Toxic plants

Is Buckeye or Horse Chestnut Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
Is Buckeye or Horse Chestnut Toxic To Cats? 

Buckeye, often known as Horse Chestnut, is an extremely hazardous tree that can reach 50 feet or more in height. The toxicity of the plant can be linked to glycosides such as aesculin, saponin, fraxin, and perhaps alkaloids, which can be found in the seeds, leaves, and bark. Depression, twitching, mucous membrane inflammation, and vomiting are all common indications of ingestion in cats.

What Is Buckeye or Horse Chestnut? 

Cat hisses at Horse Chestnut

Buckeye trees, scientifically known as aesculus, are prominent ornamental plants native to North America due it produces candelabra-like flower clusters with four or five fused petals that are often spectacular, and their fruits are dry capsules with hard leathery husks that are smooth to weakly prickly. From the plant family of Hippocastanaceae, Buckeye or horse chestnut trees are deciduous and feature palmately compound opposite leaves with five to seven leaflets that turn orange to yellow in the fall.

There are six known species of buckeye trees that grow in the United States. The Ohio buckeye, also known as the fetid or Texas buckeye, is the most well-known species, found largely in the United States’ Midwestern region.

Clinical Signs of Buckeye or Horse Chestnut Poisoning in Cats

Horse Chestnuts and cats

Saponins from the buckeye tree are known to induce severe stomach problems. The central nervous system and muscular system of your cat can both be affected by buckeye poisoning. The typical signs of buckeye poisoning include:

  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Anorexia
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Coma
  • Convulsions
  • Death
  • Decreased appetite
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Dilated pupils
  • Excitement
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Loss of coordination
  • Severe vomiting
  • Twitching
  • Wobbly

First Aid and Treatment of Buckeye or Horse Chestnut Poisoning in Cats

Horse Chestnuts with a big cat trying to sniff it

After doing a complete physical examination and some laboratory tests, the veterinarian will provide treatment to your cat depending on the severity of his or her condition. Oxygen and IV fluids may be administered as well as activated charcoal if the situation calls for it. In case of seizures and anxiety, paraldehyde may be given to your cat. Other necessary medications may be also given by the veterinarian as the situation may need.

Recovery from Buckeye or Horse Chestnut Poisoning in Cats

The vet may require close monitoring depending on the extent of your cat’s ailment. You can take him or her home as soon as the vet gives you permission. Follow the vet’s post-treatment instructions to the letter. While your cat is recuperating, make sure he or she intakes plenty of fluids and has a calm and comfortable environment at home. As long as your cat was given quick veterinary care and medical attention, he or she will fully recover fast.

Prevention of Buckeye or Horse Chestnut Poisoning in Cats

You may control what you plant at home but you cannot totally avoid your cat being exposed to buckeye trees and other toxic plants outside. Restrict your cat from getting out and straying far from your house by keeping him or her occupied at home. Utilize playpens and cat houses and install additional security at home like fences and safety nets.

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

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