Toxic plants

Is Ranger’s Button Toxic To Cats? 

by Clair Chesterman
Is Ranger's Button Toxic to Cats

All components of the ranger’s button plant should be regarded as highly hazardous to animals, particularly to cats. Furanocoumarins are the toxins found in the ranger’s button plant that are thought to protect plants from natural illnesses in the wild. When ingested by cats, these poisons can cause photosensitization symptoms.

Despite the fact that ranger’s button poisoning is rarely lethal, it can create major health problems in your cat. For better diagnosis and treatment, take your cat to the veterinary clinic once you notice any sign of ranger’s button poisoning.

What Is Ranger’s Button?

Ranger’s Button and a cat hissing at it


The swamp whiteheads, button parsley, and woolly head parsnip plant, also known as the ranger’s button plant, grow in moist areas near streams or rivers. It is one of the most attractive wildflowers, with bright white stalks and spherical flowers.

Scientifically known as Sphenosciadium capitellatum, the ranger’s button plant is native to western North America. This plant from the Apiaceae family is a robust perennial herb that grows from a tuberous root. The ranger’s button plant produces an erect stem that can reach 1 meter in height. Its stem and leaves are normally green, but they can also be practically white in color, and they are smooth below but have rough hairs on the inflorescence.

The distinct feature of the ranger’s button plant is its inflorescence which is a whitish compound umbel with many branches. In full bloom, the nearly spherical, headlike terminal umbellets contain many tiny white or purple-tinged flowers with projecting stamens that make them appear incredibly fuzzy, as shown in the top right image.

Clinical Signs of Ranger’s Button Poisoning in Cats

ranger's buttons plant with a cat in the background

Within hours after exposure to the ranger’s button plant,  your cat may exhibit the following symptoms:

First Aid and Treatment of Ranger’s Button Poisoning in Cats

Ranger’s Button and cats

The usual first step of the veterinarian is to induce vomiting. This is usually done by giving your cat a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution orally. After that, the vet might give the cat activated charcoal to absorb any remaining poisons. Any poisons that remain in your cat’s stomach can be washed out using a gastric lavage, which is the medical word for a stomach wash.

Any lesions on your cat’s skin will need to be treated by the veterinarian. The inflamed regions will need to be properly cleaned. The vet may administer a topical treatment to the wounds to reduce any discomfort the cat is feeling. If the cat is in a lot of pain, the vet can give him some oral medicine to aid with the inflammation and irritation.

Recovery from Ranger’s Button Poisoning in Cats

Ranger’s button poisoning is seldom fatal, but it can be quite uncomfortable. If your cat is dehydrated, he may need to stay at the veterinarian’s office after treatment until he is fully recovered.

Your cat may be given a protective cone by the doctor to keep him from scratching or rubbing his sensitive skin and eyes. This must be worn till the cat is completely healed.

Prevention of Ranger’s Button Poisoning in Cats

You should completely remove this plant from your home and yard to minimize further exposure to your cat. Keep your cat indoors to avoid coming into touch with any ranger’s button plants that may be sprouting in your neighborhood.

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

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