Despite their attractiveness, most begonia species are harmful to cats. Peace begonias, sometimes known as rex begonias, are one example. Calcium oxalate is a chemical found in abundance in the peace begonia plant. The oxalate crystals lodge themselves in numerous tissues, producing discomfort, and can break down into ‘oxalic acid,’ which is also a severe irritant, once consumed. By vomiting and attempting to dilute the acid with saliva, the cat’s body will try to minimize further irritation and damage to the digestive tract.
The poisonous effects of peace begonia are particularly dangerous to cats and other small mammals. Peace begonia’s toxicity is concentrated primarily in the juice of its stems, leaves, and flowers. If it is mistakenly touched, it will itch, redden, and enlarge the skin. It causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, dyspnea, and other poisoning symptoms if consumed.
What Is Peace Begonia?
With over 1,000 species and hybrids, begonias are a popular garden and houseplant. Because they thrive outside but cannot withstand temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, most people bring them indoors during winter.
Peace begonia is a perennial herb that is commonly used as a family attractive potted plant. Plants of the peace begonia family are short, colorful, and have a high decorative value. The plants grow to be one to one and a half feet tall, with smooth, waxy leaves up to six inches long. Depending on the species and cultivar, leaves might be green, silver, yellow, white, purple, or variegated.
Clinical Signs of Peace Begonia Poisoning in Cats
Begonia poisoning is rarely fatal to cats, however, it can still cause a number of noticeable symptoms which typically involve:
- Excessive drooling
- Oral sores
- Redness around the mouth
- Swelling of the mouth and tongue
- Inability to swallow
- Loss of appetite
First Aid and Treatment of Peace Begonia Poisoning in Cats
The majority of cases of begonia poisoning are minor. Symptoms normally subside within 48 hours. The doctor may offer a prescription diet because it is easier on the cat’s stomach. It can also help remove any oxalate crystals that have remained in the digestive tract of the cat.
Anti-inflammatories may be used to minimize throat swelling and maintain the airway clean in the event of swelling. To maintain the stomach lining intact, further medicines may be required. The vet may also recommend fluid therapy depending on the cat’s condition.
Recovery from Peace Begonia Poisoning in Cats
A severe case of begonia poisoning usually has a quick recovery time, with most cases being resolved in two weeks or less. Follow-up appointments are not required in the vast majority of cases.
However, if the esophagus has been severely damaged, the veterinarian may decide to insert a feeding tube temporarily. This will prevent the cat from straining injured digestive tract tissues by swallowing, allowing them to heal on a liquid diet.
Prevention of Peace Begonia Poisoning in Cats
Begonias are commonly found in most gardens and cats have direct access to them. Avoid growing this plant in your yards. Restrict your cat’s outdoor activities to lessen the risk of exposure to peace begonias or other toxic plants.
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