Toxic plants

Is Autumn Crocus Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
Is Autumn Crocus Toxic To Cats? 

As its name suggests, the autumn crocus is a blooming plant that blooms in the autumn season. It is also known for its other names meadow saffron and naked ladies. Though widely used as ornamental plants, it is considered to be toxic particularly to cats as it contains colchicine and other alkaloids. Ingestion of autumn crocus can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, and damage to multiple internal organs to your cat.

What Is Autumn Crocus?

Meadow Saffron plant with a cat trying to sniff it

Autumn crocus, scientifically known as Colchicum autumnale, is a flowering plant native to Europe and Northern Africa that is now grown as a decorative plant in various regions of the world. Its magnificent blossoming flowers normally have six tepals and six stamens, with three white styles and orange anthers, and colors varying from pinkish-purple to white. Autumn crocus’ dark green leaves can reach a length of ten centimeters. Although they belong to the Liliaceae family, autumn crocuses may have a resemblance with true crocuses.

Clinical Signs of Autumn Crocus Poisoning in Cats

Meadow Saffron and cats

Symptoms of autumn crocus poisoning can arise immediately as soon as your cat ingested it or sometimes, it may also take several days to appear. If your cat is showing any signs of autumn crocus poisoning, set an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Poisoning of this nature should be addressed urgently. The usual clinical signs to look out for are

  • Anemia
  • Bloody stool
  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Death
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing problems
  • Drooling excessively
  • Fever
  • Appetite loss
  • Organ damage
  • Seizures
  • Shock
  • Slow heart rate
  • Vomiting that may or may not be bloody

First Aid and Treatment of Autumn Crocus Poisoning in Cats

Cat hisses at Meadow Saffron

If you caught your cat chewing autumn crocus, remove the plant from his or her mouth and bring the remaining pieces to the veterinarian for further analysis. The vet may induce vomiting to eliminate toxins from your cat’s system. Activated charcoal may be also administered by the vet to absorb the remaining colchicine in your cat’s body. IV fluids and oxygen may be also given to your cat if he or she is suffering from vomiting and difficulty in breathing.

If days already passed by after the incident of autumn crocus ingestion, the vet may perform gastric lavage to remove the toxins from your cat’s stomach. 

Recovery from Autumn Crocus Poisoning in Cats

Give your cat a calm and quiet space at home while he or she is recovering from autumn crocus poisoning. If your cat suffered from severe symptoms, it may take a little bit more time for him to recuperate. As long as your cat was given immediate medical attention and proper care, he or she will fully recover. You may be requested to come back to the veterinary office for follow-up check-ups particularly if your cat suffered from organ damage.

Prevention of Autumn Crocus Poisoning in Cats

Avoid areas with known autumn crocuses or if you have it at home, remove them right away. Get to know what plants are growing in the neighborhood to know what places to avoid. Keep your cats busy inside your homes by installing play fences and cathouses. You can also build fences and place safety nets around your home, as necessary. You may also grow cat-friendly grasses in your home to prevent your cat from nibbling and chewing other plants outside your home.

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

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