Toxic plants

Is Malanga or Taro Plant Toxic To Cats?

Is Malanga or Taro Plant Toxic To Cats? 
Written by Clair Chesterman

Malanga or also commonly called caladium, elephant’s ear, and taro plant is a  popular ornamental plant due to its dense and majestic foliage. However, insoluble calcium oxalate crystals found in malanga can be harmful to cats as these crystals can rip through soft tissues in the mouth, throat, and stomach. When your cat chews or eats the plant, these crystals are discharged into his mouth, causing him instant agony.

Malanga poisoning is not usually fatal, but it can cause major health problems if left untreated. If you notice signs of malanga poisoning in your cat, take him to a veterinarian as fast as possible for proper care. 

What Is Malanga or Taro Plant?

Malanga or taro plant, scientifically known as colocasia esculenta, is the most frequently grown species of many plants in the Araceae family that are utilized as vegetables for their corms, leaves, and petioles. Malanga or taro corms, is a mainstay of African, Oceanic, and South Asian cuisines. The generic name comes from the ancient Greek term kolokasion, which denoted the edible roots of both Colocasia esculenta are said to have been grown throughout Asia for over ten thousand years.

Malanga is distinguished by its distinctive wide green leaves with a vivid pink center. Because of its dense foliage and majestic leaves, it is often grown as a beautiful plant indoors and utilized in landscaping.

Clinical Signs of Malanga or Taro Plant Poisoning in Cats

Malanga poisoning symptoms are typically mild, however, larger amounts can induce significant gastric discomfort while consumption in massive amounts can produce much more severe symptoms, which can include:

  • Oral irritation
  • Excessive salivation
  • Choking and swelling of the throat
  • Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing
  • Extreme difficulty breathing
  • Dyspnea or rapid shallow gasps
  • Convulsions
  • Renal failure
  • Coma
  • Death 

First Aid Treatment of Malanga or Taro Plant Poisoning in Cats

If your cat ingested a part of the malanga plant, his or her mouth should be carefully rinsed and washed with water. The cat might be given yogurt, milk, cheese, or any other calcium source in order to precipitate some of the calcium oxalate crystals and alleviate the pain and discomfort he or she is experiencing.

If your cat is showing more severe symptoms, veterinary intervention is required. Fluid therapy will be most likely provided particularly if the cat has lost a lot of fluids due to continuous vomiting and diarrhea. The vet may also opt to perform gastric lavage and prescribe Kapectolin or sucralfate to protect the stomach and prevent further irritation.

Swelling is one of the negative effects of being exposed to insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. This may not appear to be a significant problem, but it can cause your cat’s airway to expand and make breathing difficult. A dose of Benadryl given by the veterinarian can help prevent this condition.

Recovery from Malanga or Taro Plant Poisoning in Cats

Most cats get better as soon the symptoms of malanga poisoning subside. However, if your cat has any issues, such as dehydration or airway edema, he may be needed to stay with the vet for prolonged monitoring.

Prevention of Malanga or Taro Plant Poisoning in Cats

Poisoning prevention can be done by removing the malanga plant in your home and making your cat stay indoors as much as possible. This will minimize your cat’s risk of exposure to the said plant and to other poisonous plants in your neighborhood as well.

If you love plants but have cats at home, check out these lists:

About the author

Clair Chesterman

Clair Chesterman is a professional cat breeder having her own cageless CFA and CCA Registered cattery & fostering company FluffyMeowPaws in Eugene, Oregon. Clair is a plant enthusiast too and she made in-depth research on toxic and non-toxic plants for cats.

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