Toxic plants

Is Milfoil or Yarrow Toxic To Cats?

Is Milfoil or Yarrow Toxic To Cats? 
Written by Clair Chesterman

Milfoil is commonly grown for medicinal purposes however, it poses a threat for cats due to its toxin content. The toxic principle found in milfoil are Glyco-alkaloids such as achilleine and moschatine, hydrolyzable tannins, and volatile oils. 

Milfoil is said to have diaphoretic, or perspiration-inducing and astringent, or clotting-inducing effects when applied externally, and stimulant-like properties. Achilleine is an alkaloid found in milfoil that has been demonstrated to be hemostatic, lowering clotting time without causing hazardous side effects. It was identified and used as a quinine alternative for the prophylaxis of Malaria at the turn of the century, and it has also been found to reduce blood pressure.

What Is Milfoil or Yarrow?

Milfoil is a flowering plant native to Northern Asia, Europe, and North America. Its scientific name is achillea millefolium. It’s also known as yarrow, and it’s been used for a long time as a topical treatment for wounds including cuts and abrasions. The genus Achilles is named after the Greek character Achilles, who is known to be the hero of the Trojan War and Homer’s Iliad’s greatest warrior, it is said that he has brought milfoil or yarrow with his army to treat battle wounds.

Milfoil is a plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family and is commonly grown as a decorative plant in plant nurseries. It grows in a variety of climates and styles in gardens and natural landscaping settings. The plant is commonly seen in butterfly gardens and requires well-drained soil in full sun, but it can also thrive in less-than-ideal conditions.

Clinical Signs of Milfoil or Yarrow Poisoning in Cats

Milfoil poisoning is uncommon because the plant’s tannins give it a harsh flavor that deters animals from eating too much of it. In addition, a cat would have to swallow an almost impossibly large amount of the plant to risk being killed. The following are symptoms that cat owners should be aware of:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lethargy
  • Frequent urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin irritation

First Aid and Treatment of Milfoil or Yarrow Poisoning in Cats

Milfoil toxicity is usually treated symptomatically. The cat’s symptoms will be managed by the veterinarian when they arise. He’ll make sure the cat stays hydrated and doesn’t eat any more of the plant. In cats who are allergic to ragweed and allied plants in the Asteraceae or Compositae family, milfoil may cause increased or more severe symptoms.

The veterinarian’s treatment routine may involve intravenous fluid therapy, vomit induction, giving activated charcoal, and performing gastric lavage. Necessary medications to ease your cat’s symptoms will be also given.

Recovery from Milfoil or Yarrow Poisoning in Cats

Milfoil poisoning rarely results in death and the majority of the cats will fully recover once all of the plant’s harmful substance has been ejected from their bodies. There should be no long-term effects from the poisoning however it can cause miscarriage in pregnant cats. Mother cats who have recently consumed milfoil should not be permitted to milk their kittens.

Prevention of Milfoil or Yarrow Poisoning in Cats

Remove all milfoil plant in your gardens and keep your home cat-friendly as much as possible. Staying indoors is the best way for your cats to minimize the risk of exposure to milfoil and other poisonous plants that may be growing within the vicinity og your residence.

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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