Toxic plants

Is Mistletoe Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
Is Mistletoe Toxic To Cats? 

The mistletoe is a popular Christmas decoration that is connected with kissing under the mistletoe. However, due to its toxin level, this plant is toxic to cats. Phoratoxin, gamma-aminobutyric acid, phenols, phenethylamines, phenylpropanoids, polysaccharides, and flavonoids are among the poisonous substances present in mistletoe, and they can cause gastrointestinal disorders as well as hypotension and bradycardia in rare situations.

What Is Mistletoe?

Mistletoe with a cat trying to sniff it

Mistletoe is scientifically known as Phoradendron serotinum or commonly the North American variety and Viscum album, the European species. Mistletoe has long been associated with Christmas celebrations and rituals. Mistletoe is a subspecies of mistletoe that is native to the southern and eastern United States. It is an evergreen shrub that draws water and nutrients from other trees by leaching from them. Like a parasite, American mistletoe grows on the host tree it feeds on. Thick, green foliage and prominent white berries characterize this shrub.

Clinical Signs of Mistletoe Poisoning in Cats

Mistletoe and cats

Because certain mistletoe poisoning reactions can be life-threatening, get guidance from your veterinarian or a local poison control center as soon as you suspect a poisoning has occurred. Clinical symptoms that your cat may manifest when suffering from mistletoe poisoning may include:

First Aid and Treatment of Mint Poisoning in Cats

Mistletoe with a cat in the background

Because there is no specific treatment for mistletoe poisoning in cats, treatment is usually focused on managing symptoms as they emerge and maintaining the cat’s important functions. The better the prognosis for the cat, the sooner treatment can begin. 

The veterinarian may give the cat activated charcoal to absorb the different poisons generated by the mistletoe into the stomach and digestive tract. Once consumed, toxins are confined and can safely pass through the cat’s system.

The cat may also be given medications to help with gastrointestinal distress or to raise blood pressure. Supportive care, such as oxygen supplementation, may be necessary in extreme circumstances to help a cat whose breathing is compromised. To keep the cat from becoming very dehydrated, intravenous fluids may be administered.

Recovery from Mistletoe Poisoning in Cats

The symptoms of mistletoe poisoning can persist for up to three days. Overall, the outlook of recovery is highly dependent on the quantity of the mistletoe that was eaten and how prompt the afflicted cat was treated. If the cat received appropriate therapy promptly, fatality is improbable.

Prevention of Mistletoe Poisoning in Cats

Keep mistletoes in areas that are not accessible to your cats.  Instead of actual mistletoe clippings, there are various faux alternatives that are safe for pets and can be used for décor. If you live in a community where mistletoe grows wild, keeping your cats engaged and occupied indoors reduces the risk of exposure to this and other harmful plants.

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

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