Toxic plants

Is Oregon Holly Toxic To Cats?

Is Oregon Holly Toxic To Cats? 
Written by Clair Chesterman

Oregon holly, also known as English holly, European holly, American holly, and winterberry, is toxic to cats due to saponins, which are irritants that affect your cat’s oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, and skin. Even though Oregon holly poisoning is rarely fatal, it can cause significant discomfort in cats who have come into contact with or consumed the plant.

Saponin glycosides are most abundant in the young leaves and berries of the Oregon holly plant. Saponins have the ability to cause red blood cell death as well as changes in the permeability of small intestinal mucosal cells.

What Is Oregon Holly?

Oregon holly is a semi-evergreen, Aquifoliaceae plant family member with upright to oval shrub. It has a suckering propensity that develops to be four to five feet tall and three feet wide. The burgundy fall leaves of the previous year’s growth contrast with the early spring blossoms of bright yellow clusters of tiny flowers. Summer foliage is lustrous and holly-like, starting burgundy and then blue-green as it matures.

Native to western North America, Oregon holly can be found from Southeast Alaska to Northern California, and from eastern Alberta to central New Mexico. It’s a one- to three-meter-tall evergreen shrub with pinnate leaves with spiky leaflets and thick clusters of yellow flowers in the early spring, followed by dark bluish-black berries.

Clinical Signs of Oregon Holly Poisoning in Cats

Cats who chew or swallow pieces of the Oregon holly plant will usually show signs of poisoning almost immediately. Symptoms may vary, but the following are some of the most common that cats manifest:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Increased heart rate and respiratory rate

First Aid and Treatment of Oregon Holly Poisoning in Cats

The first step in the treatment will be to remove any remaining Oregon holly from the cat’s stomach. Depending on your cat’s condition, the vet may induce vomiting, provide activated charcoal, or perform gastric lavage or a stomach pump.

In order to preserve the stomach lining and prevent the recurrence of symptoms, the veterinarian may prescribe drugs. In case of skin irritation, the vet may administer a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation and irritation.

Because of the forced vomiting, the cat may get dehydrated during treatment. If this happens, the veterinarian will give your cat intravenous fluids to keep her healthy.

Recovery from Oregon Holly Poisoning in Cats

Because Oregon holly poisoning is rarely lethal, a cat should be able to recover completely without further issues. The vet may advise feeding softer meals to keep the cat’s stomach from becoming inflamed. In the days following therapy, keep the cat calm and comfortable to help him restore his strength.

Prevention of Oregon Holly Poisoning in Cats

Staying indoors is the best method for cats to reduce the risk of exposure to toxic plants outside. Keep them mentally stimulated indoors by utilizing cat trees, playpens, and other toys suitable for them. Remove any Oregon holly that may be growing within your yards.

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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.