Toxic plants

Is Shamrock Plant Toxic To Cats? 

by Clair Chesterman
Is Shamrock Toxic to Cats

The poisonous principle known as oxalic acid in the shamrock plant makes it toxic to cats. These toxins are rapidly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and bind to systemic calcium, producing dramatic drops in blood calcium levels (acute hypocalcemia) and calcium oxalate (CaOx) accumulation in the renal tubules, leading to acute renal (kidney) failure.

Insoluble oxalic acid forms clusters of needle-sharp crystals called raphides in the tissues. When an animal bites on these plants, raphides are produced, causing severe discomfort in the oropharynx. Domesticated animals will generally cease eating plants containing insoluble calcium oxalates due to pain and discomfort.

Because of their tendency to cause hypocalcemia and severe renal damage, plants containing soluble oxalic acid are considered more harmful. The period of exposure and the amount of plant consumed influence the degree of toxicity.

What Is Shamrock Plant?

Cat lies Shamrock Plant

Oxalis, also commonly called sorrel or good luck plant, is a big flowering plant genus with approximately 550 species in the wood-sorrel family Oxalidaceae. Except for the polar regions, the genus is found all over the planet; tropical Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa have particularly high species variety.

Oxalis can be either annuals or perennials. The leaves are split into three to ten or more obovate and top-notched leaflets that are grouped palmately and are about equal in size. The majority of oxalis species have three leaflets and resemble those of some clovers on the surface.

Oxalis blooms feature five petals that are normally joined at the base and ten stamens. The hue of the petals ranges from white to pink, red, or yellow. It also produces fruit which is a tiny capsule with numerous seeds within. The roots are frequently tuberous and succulent, and numerous species reproduce vegetatively by producing bulbils, which detach to form new plants.

Clinical Signs of Shamrock Plant Poisoning in Cats

Shamrock Plant and cats

There is no toxic dosage. Symptoms of shamrock poisoning will vary depending on the amount of plant consumed as well as the cat’s overall condition. Cats that are dehydrated or have the chronic renal illness are more vulnerable. The following are the common signs to look out for:

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Hypersalivation 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors secondary to hypocalcemia
  • Kidney damage 24-36 hours after ingestion

First Aid and Treatment of Shamrock Plant Poisoning in Cats

Shamrock Plant with a cat in the background

Some of the veterinarian’s treatment options for mild instances of shamrock poisoning include causing vomiting, starting intravenous fluid therapy, using activated charcoal to eliminate toxins in the cat’s stomach, and administering drugs to minimize repeated vomiting. Depending on the cat’s symptoms, further drugs and treatments may be offered.

Recovery from Shamrock Plant Poisoning in Cats

The probability of a cat’s recovery is determined by how fast the poisoning was detected and treated upon ingestion, as well as whether or not renal failure ensued. Mild instances of shamrock poisoning that are treated promptly and properly generally resolve themselves within 24 hours. In the event of renal impairment, the veterinarian may demand regular clinic visits to check on the cat.

Prevention of Shamrock Plant Poisoning in Cats

Make sure that you do not grow shamrock plant in your home. Keep your house cat-friendly. Letting your cat stay indoors is the best way to prevent exposure to shamrock plants and other toxic plants. 

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

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