Toxic plants

Is Oleander Toxic To Cats?

Is Oleander Toxic To Cats? 
Written by Clair Chesterman

Oleander or also commonly called rosebay is an evergreen shrub that is poisonous to people and cats alike. Ingesting a few leaves, nibbling on a twig of the plant, or even drinking water containing oleander can result in death. The toxic components found in oleanders are cardiac glycosides. Cardiac glycosides work by blocking the sodium/potassium ATPase pump, resulting in hyperkalemia and a rise in intracellular calcium. These turn of events causes premature depolarization, heart irritability, and arrhythmias in cats.

Other conditions, such as hemoconcentration, prerenal azotemia, and electrolyte abnormalities, may be seen as a result of gastrointestinal effects or poor perfusion due to the potential severity of the signs.

What Is Oleander?

Oleander, or Nerium oleander as it is scientifically known, is a shrub or small tree that is grown as an ornamental and landscape plant in temperate and subtropical areas all over the world. Although this Apocynaceae plant is native to North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, it is now widely cultivated.

Oleander blooms in enormous clusters of red, pink, yellow, or white single or double blossoms from early summer to mid-autumn. It’s an evergreen with long, narrow leaves that are smooth yet leathery, and it grows swiftly but tolerates rigorous pruning to keep it in check. Because it’s such a hardy shrub, it’s commonly planted along highways as a noise and pollution barrier, as well as in residential landscaping.

Clinical Signs of Oleander Poisoning in Cats

Even little amounts of Oleander can be fatal if consumed. Symptoms typically appear within the first three hours after ingestion, if not immediately. If your cat ingests a piece of Oleander, he or she may experience the following symptoms:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Arrhythmias
  • Bradycardia
  • Tachycardia
  • Premature ventricular contractions
  • Blood pressure irregularities
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Ataxia
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Shock
  • Death

First Aid and Treatment of Oleander Poisoning in Cats

The symptoms that have developed in the cat will determine the treatment that will be given. All efforts will be made by the veterinarian to stabilize the cat’s condition.

The vet will use hydrogen peroxide emesis, gastric lavage, or stomach pumping to empty the stomach and eliminate any remaining plant material before it is digested. If the cat becomes dehydrated, saline and electrolytes will be administered intravenously

In case of arrhythmias, it can be treated with a range of medications. Potassium chloride, Procainamide, dipotassium EDTA, atropine, FDP, or lidocaine are some of the medications that may be prescribed by the veterinarian. 

Recovery from Oleander Poisoning in Cats

If the cat ingested very small amounts of oleander, the prognosis is uncertain, but recovery is possible. The cat’s heart may be permanently damaged as a result of the poisoning incident. Death is possible if a large amount of oleander is consumed. Within 24 hours, the cat may be paralyzed, go into a coma, and die.

Prevention of Oleander Poisoning in Cats

If you have oleanders in your yards, it is best to remove them immediately. Keep your cats indoors so you can keep an eye on them better and lessen the risk of exposure to oleanders and other toxic plants that may be growing in your neighborhood.

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.