Toxic plants

Is Starch Root Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
Is Starch Root Toxic to Cats

The starch root is dangerous to cats because it contains high quantities of a chemical known as ‘insoluble calcium oxalates.’ The oxalates are a hardened form of oxalic acid that is created to dissuade animals that might otherwise regard the starch root as a food source.

The oxalates function by digging into soft tissues and causing significant discomfort with their sharp, crystalline form. This simple process is responsible for the swelling, discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea described above. Proteinase is a second chemical found in the starch root. This toxin, once taken into the target animal’s body, inhibits the operation of numerous neurotransmitter enzymes. This results in a lack of equilibrium and restrained behavior that would not occur if oxalate was consumed alone.

What Is Starch Root?

Starch Root and a cat nearby

The starch root is a kind of forest flowering plant of the Araceae family. It is widely found in most of Europe. Adam and Eve, Adder’s root, arum, wild arum, bobbins, cows and bulls, cuckoopint, cuckoo-plant, devils and angels, friar’s cowl, lords-and-ladies, naked lads, snakeshead, and wake-robin are some of the common names for arum maculatum.

The leaves of the starch root sprout in the spring. Depending on the cultivar, they might be purple-spotted or unspotted. The flowers are followed by a spadix, which is a poker-shaped inflorescence covered in a pale green spathe or leaf-like hood. 

When crushed, the roots of this plant are edible and were once known as Portland sago. It was used in the same way as salep (orchid flour) to make saloop, a popular beverage prior to the introduction of tea or coffee. It was also substituted for arrowroot. It may be highly dangerous if not properly cooked.

Clinical Signs of Starch Root Poisoning in Cats

Starch Root and cats

Symptoms of starch root poisoning are similar to symptoms of poisoning from other Araceae plants. After ingesting starch root, cats may develop the following symptoms. 

First Aid and Treatment of Starch Root Poisoning in Cats

Starch Root and a cat hissing at it

If you see your cat eating a part of the starch root, give him or her some yogurt, milk, or cheese. This will aid in the precipitation of some calcium oxalates and will relieve the sensation of oxalic acid discomfort. If your cat continues to experience symptoms after doing this, consult a veterinarian immediately.

When you take your cat to a veterinary facility, the veterinarian will examine the symptoms and determine how serious they are. Cats that have had recurring bouts of vomiting and diarrhea will almost certainly be given hydration treatment. This will replenish the cat’s lost fluids and prevent catastrophic dehydration. Depending on the extent of your cat’s symptoms, the doctor may recommend further therapies.

Recovery from Starch Root Poisoning in Cats

Cats will recover from starch root poisoning in most cases within a week; however, aged cats may require more specialist treatment. The majority of cats will not require a follow-up visit following treatment. But, those who have been seriously impacted by issues such as dehydration may benefit from another session to monitor their improvement.

Prevention of Starch Root Poisoning in Cats

If starch root is growing in your yards, it would be best to remove it immediately. Keep your house cat-friendly and restrict your cat’s access outdoors.

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

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