Toxic plants

Is Periwinkle Toxic To Cats?

Is Periwinkle Toxic To Cats? 
Written by Clair Chesterman

Vincristine and vinblastine are two powerful alkaloids found in periwinkles. These toxins are extracted from the plant for use in chemotherapy, which is a controlled way of poisoning the body in and of itself. If a cat eats the plant, it may experience negative consequences. Periwinkle has cytotoxic and hypoglycemic qualities, meaning it can damage cell activity, cause severe blistering, and cause low blood pressure. It’s possible for cats to have liver failure if it has eaten a large portion of periwinkles.

What Is Periwinkle?

Periwinkle plants can be found crawling down steep hillsides and banks, providing a green and growing impression in otherwise barren environments. The most common use for periwinkle is as a ground cover. The periwinkle plant gets its name from the periwinkle blue blossoms that occur in April and May on the foliage. There are about 30 different types of this plant, some with variegated foliage and different flower colors.

Scientifically known as vinca rosea, periwinkles are subshrubs or herbaceous and have slender trailing stems about three to six feet long. Its stems frequently take root where they touch the ground, enabling the plant to spread widely. This Apocynaceae plant is known to be native to Europe, Africa, and Asia. 

Clinical Signs of Periwinkle Poisoning in Cats

The most typical symptom that occurs after consuming the vinca plant is gastrointestinal upset. Brain and central nervous system problems can occur in extreme cases, but this is uncommon. The following are all warning signs to look out for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Low blood pressure
  • Cardiac abnormalities
  • Problems with the central nervous system
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma

First Aid and Treatment of Periwinkle Poisoning in Cats

The treatment will be based on the symptoms that the cat exhibits. In some cases, treatment may need to commence before a diagnosis has been made.

To remove any remaining plant material, the cat’s oral cavity will be rinsed with water. The veterinarian may choose to make the cat vomit in order to clear the stomach of its contents. If the cat is not stable, gastric lavage, also known as stomach pumping, may be used instead of emesis.

To relieve stomach irritation, some drugs may be prescribed. Both Kapectolin and sucralfate, which coat the stomach and protect it from its contents, can be administered.

Recovery from Periwinkle Poisoning in Cats

Because most cats only consume a small amount, they will recover after the gastrointestinal symptoms have subsided. In the rare occasion that a considerable amount of plant material is ingested, the poisoning might cause lasting liver damage, a compromised immune system, and even death.

Prevention of Periwinkle Poisoning in Cats

Remove any periwinkle plants that are growing in your yards. If this plant is growing in your neighbor’s gardens, it is best to keep your cat indoors for precaution. Staying indoors will minimize the risk of getting in contact with periwinkle or any toxic plants.

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.