Toxic plants

Is Spring Parsley Toxic To Cats? 

by Clair Chesterman
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Is Spring Parsley Toxic to Cats

The spring parsley plant has high levels of ‘furanocoumarins,’ which are harmful to most animals, including cats. These compounds are generated by a variety of plants to serve a range of functions, the most important of which is to act as a deterrent to would-be predators. The specific substance responsible for the aforementioned symptoms is known as ‘psoralen.’ When psoralen enters the body, it combines with cells and attaches to their DNA.

When exposed to UV light, the psoralen begins a process that destroys the structure of the DNA, stopping it from reproducing and killing the cell. This cell death causes the burn-like reaction to sunlight that an animal suffering from spring parsley poisoning would have. Aside from psoralen, the plant includes a number of irritants that can cause oral irritation.

What Is Spring Parsley?

Scientifically known as Cymopterus watsonii, spring parsley is a perennial that grows 8-12 cm tall. It receives its name from its finely split leaves, which look like parsley. Small white or cream-colored blooms bloom in umbrella-like clusters approximately an inch across. The taproot of the plant is rather lengthy. The carrot family of Apiaceae includes spring parsley. From early spring until they grow and dry in early summer, plants remain toxic.

Spring parsley is native to North America and thrives in well-drained soils and rolling slopes. It blooms from late April to June and then fades away by early summer. It is a noxious plant that frequently invades pastures and rangelands.

Clinical Signs of Spring Parsley Poisoning in Cats

Spring parsley exposure might result in potentially severe symptoms for the cat’s health. As a result, owners should seek veterinarian assistance as soon as they identify a problem. Signs of spring parsley toxicity in cats usually include:

  • Photosensitivity 
  • Oral irritation
  • Phytophotodermatitis
  • Sunburn
  • Skin irritation

First Aid and Treatment of Spring Parsley Poisoning in Cats

To minimize further photosensitivity damage, the doctor may provide a dosage of hydrogen peroxide to the cat to induce vomiting. By causing the animal to vomit the contents of its stomach, no more psoralen should be absorbed. Following that, the veterinarian may provide activated charcoal to absorb any leftover spring parsley toxins in the intestines. The vet may then provide a little sedative to the cat and place it in a darkened enclosure to rest and enable the photosensitivity to fade. If the resultant dermatitis is severe, further treatment with steroids and antiseptics may be required.

Recovery from Spring Parsley Poisoning in Cats

The majority of cats will recover approximately a week after treatment, but those that have been severely sunburned may need to be monitored to ensure their wounds heal properly. When you get home from the vet, put the cat in a cool, dark place for a few hours to let the psoralen wear off. The vet may also offer owners a lotion to apply on uncomfortable areas of the cat’s skin to aid with recovery.

Prevention of Spring Parsley Poisoning in Cats

Remove any spring parsley that has sprung about your home. If spring parsleys are growing in your location, keep your cat indoors to limit the chance of exposure to this plant.

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

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