Toxic plants

Is Branching Ivy or California Ivy Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
Is Branching Ivy or California Ivy Toxic To Cats?

Branching Ivy or also known for its other names English Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy, and California Ivy is a long, woody, vine commonly found in gardens. While it is aesthetically pleasing, this plant should be avoided by cats as it contains Triterpenoid saponins which are harmful to them.

Triterpenoid saponins are hederagenins that are made up of a variety of acids and create a foaming reaction. When swallowed by cats, this chemical reaction causes immediate, painful stinging and burning of the mouth. Both the digestive and respiratory mucous membranes are directly affected by saponins.

What Is Branching Ivy?

Cat sits near Sweetheart Ivy

Because of its glossy, pointed leaves, Branching Ivy, scientifically known as Hedera helix, is frequently used in flower pots and arrangements. Hedera helix produces little blossoms that convert into berries later on. The plant is native to Europe, yet it thrives in a variety of temperatures. It grows quickly and can be spotted climbing buildings, fences, and trees.

Clinical Signs of Branching Ivy Poisoning in Cats

Sweetheart Ivy and cats

Depending on how much ivy the cat has eaten, the amount and severity of symptoms that arise will vary dramatically. External symptoms will appear if the plant’s juices come into contact with a cat’s skin. The following are all warning signs to look out for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling excessively
  • Pawing at the mouth 
  • Bloating 
  • Weakness
  • Sneezing
  • Coordination issues
  • Hyperthermia
  • Appetite loss
  • Excessive thirst
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Bradycardia or slowed heartbeat
  • Hypotension or low blood pressure
  • Redness of the skin 
  • Itching 
  • Blisters 

First Aid and Treatment of Branching Ivy Poisoning in Cats

Sweetheart Ivy with a cat in the background

The veterinarian will provide supportive care to relieve the symptoms that your cat is experiencing. Intravenous fluids may be needed to feed your cat as well as to help in removing toxins from the cat’s body. To eliminate any residual toxic substances in the stomach, the veterinarian may opt to use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting or perform gastric lavage to pump the stomach.

Toxins in the gastrointestinal tract can be absorbed and bound with activated charcoal, which can be given to the cat. Toxins can flow through the body without being digested because of the charcoal. Various medications may be also prescribed by the vet depending on the needs of your cat.

Recovery from Branching Ivy Poisoning in Cats

Branching Ivy poisoning has not been linked to any feline deaths. All symptoms should go away in a few days, but it still depends on how much plant the cat ate. Once the cat’s condition has stabilized, he or she will be allowed to return home. Once the cat has returned home, maintain a calm and comfortable atmosphere while he or she recovers.

Prevention of Branching Ivy Poisoning in Cats

Make sure there is no ivy in any of the planters within the house. Removing it from outside gardening may also be the safest line of action. Your cat’s risk of coming into contact with California ivy and other harmful plants in other people’s gardens will be minimized if you keep him or her indoors.

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

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