Toxic plants

Is Bog Laurel or Bog Kalmia Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
Is Bog Laurel or Bog Kalmia Toxic To Cats? 

Bog laurel or also known for its other common names, Pale Laurel and Bog Kalmia, is a perennial evergreen shrub that contains grayanotoxins that are poisonous to cats.

Grayanotoxins attach to sodium channels in cell membranes and cause them to close. They interfere with cells’ natural electrical current, preventing them from returning to normal and keeping them permanently stimulated. Ingestion of bog laurel may cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and cardiac failure in cats. If your cat chewed on a bog laurel, calling a veterinarian or an animal center is vital for immediate veterinary care and treatment.

What Is Bog Laurel?

Bog Laurel and cats

Bog Laurel or scientifically known as Kalmia polifolia is a tiny evergreen shrub that grows to a height of six to 22 inches. The leaves of the Bog Laurel are tiny, lance-shaped, leathery, and have smooth edges that turn downward and have whitish hairs on the underside. The flowers that bloom in spring are tiny, pink cup-shaped with five edges and are 1/3 to 1/2 inch in diameter. This plant from the Ericaceae family is commonly found in north-eastern North America, from Newfoundland to Hudson Bay.

Clinical Signs of Bog Laurel Poisoning in Cats

Cat sniffs Bog Laurel

Grayanotoxins are present in every part of the laurel plant, thus, cats who eat even a small bit are at risk of suffering major health problems. The following are some of the most typical signs of bog laurel poisoning:

First Aid and Treatment of Bog Laurel Poisoning in Cats

Bog Laurel with a cat trying to sniff it

In most circumstances, your veterinarian will give your cat hydrogen peroxide solution to induce vomiting and eliminate any remaining laurel plant from his stomach. When your cat’s vomiting stops, the vet can give him activated charcoal to absorb any toxins that haven’t yet made their way into his circulation. Gastric lavage, which is a procedure that washes the stomach cavity to remove any poisons that remain on the cat’s stomach lining, may also be performed.

The vet may also need to give your cat sodium channel blockers like quinidine or isoproterenol. If your cat is having trouble breathing as a result of the poisoning, the vet can give him respiratory support until his condition improves.

Recovery from Bog Laurel Poisoning in Cats

Laurel poisoning can be lethal if you wait too long. The sooner you get your cat to a veterinarian for medical care, the greater the chances of your cat making a full recovery. 

If your cat’s condition is severe, he or she might need to stay with the vet until his condition improves. Once you get home, keep him calm and comfortable while he or she is gaining strength from the stressful experience. Keep close tabs on your cat and call the vet straight soon if you notice the symptoms are returning, particularly if your cat has another seizure.

Prevention of Bog Laurel Poisoning in Cats

If you have bog laurels growing in your yard, remove them as soon as possible to prevent your cat from another poisoning experience. Keeping your cat indoors as much as possible is the best way to minimize the risk of exposure to bog laurel or other toxic plants.

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

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