Tree philodendron is toxic to cats. Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals formed by specialized cells known as idioblasts are hazardous to cats. Within the plant’s tissue, these needle-sharp crystals create raphides, which protect the plant from herbivory. Crystals reach the sensitive tissues of the mouth and pharynx when the plant is chewed, causing severe discomfort and burning.
What is Tree Philodendron?
Tree Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) belongs to the Araceae Family. It is a huge genus of Central and South American flowering plants. Many kinds of philodendrons are popular houseplants or decorative outdoor plants in warmer regions due to their ease of maintenance and glossy, heart-shaped leaves.
Philodendrons are divided into two types: trailing and non-trailing. There are 400 species of philodendron. Philodendrons contain up to 0.7 percent oxalates in the form of calcium oxalate crystals as raphides.
Clinical Signs of Tree Philodendron Poisoning in Cats
Because of the bitter taste and intense pain, most cats will stop chewing on philodendron. Contact with needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals usually causes acute oropharyngeal discomfort. Here are the common symptoms:
- Oral pain and intense burning
- Hypersalivation (drooling)
- Soft tissue swelling
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swelling of the mouth and throat
- Difficulty breathing (rare)
First Aid and Treatment of Tree Philodendron Poisoning in Cats
Although veterinary care is rarely required, you should keep an eye on the symptoms and contact your veterinarian if they worsen. Otherwise, tuna water or a light chicken broth might be fed. These drinks will assist to flush the crystals out of your cat’s mouth and relieve the discomfort they have caused. Your cat may need pain medicine, anti-swelling medication, medication to assist bind any remaining plant material in the GI tract, as well as IV fluids and nutritional support until they are able to eat on their own.
Recovery from Tree Philodendron Poisoning in Cats
The tree philodendron’s toxicity ranges from mild to moderate. Because the toxin contains insoluble crystals, the sooner you wash the toxin out of your cat’s mouth, the less harm the crystals can cause. The crystals can also harm the gastrointestinal tract if a piece of the plant is consumed. However, with competent veterinary care, the chances of a full recovery are good.
Prevention of Tree Philodendron Poisoning in Cats
Keeping tree philodendrons out of the house and yard is the only way to avoid poisoning. If you keep it in the same house as your cat, better to keep it out of reach. Most cats will be put off by the bitter taste and severe mouth discomfort. Due to their inquisitive curiosity, cats are more likely to consume non-food objects.
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