Toxic plants

Is Variable Dieffenbachia Toxic To Cats? 

by Clair Chesterman
Is Variable Dieffenbachia Toxic to Cats

Variable dieffenbachia is considered harmful to cats. The toxic elements found in this plant are insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which are commonly found in plants from the Araceae family. 

When these plants are ingested by cats, they create a severe burning feeling in the mouth, throat, lips, and tongue, as well as profuse drooling, choking, gagging, and potentially dangerous enlargement of the throat, which may cause difficulties or incapacity to swallow (dysphagia).

What Is Variable Dieffenbachia?

Variable Dieffenbachia with a cat in the background

Variable dieffenbachia, sometimes known as dieffenbachia picta, is a herbaceous perennial endemic to the tropical Americas. It is often grown as an attractive plant in temperate shade gardens and as a houseplant in a pot. Cultivars highlight various patterns of variegation.

Variable dieffenbachia has an exotic appearance and beautifully formed leaves with cream, yellow, and white brushstrokes that emphasize the shape of the foliage. This plant stands out due to its deep green hue and color brush strokes.

Clinical Signs of Variable Dieffenbachia Poisoning in Cats

Variable Dieffenbachia and cats

Variable dieffenbachia poisoning in cats may manifest as the following clinical signs:

  • Burning feeling in the mouth, throat, lips, and tongue
  • Excessive salivation
  • Choking and swelling of the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing or dysphagia

The aforementioned effects may linger for up to two weeks after ingestion. Eating larger quantities of this toxic plant can cause cats to experience the following adverse effects:

First Aid and Treatment of Variable Dieffenbachia Poisoning in Cats

Cat looks at Variable Dieffenbachia

In case your feline companion has ingested a part of variable dieffenbachia you should remove the plant from your cat’s mouth and thoroughly cleanse it with water. He or she can then be fed yogurt, milk, cheese, or any other calcium-containing food to alleviate discomfort by perhaps precipitating some of the calcium oxalate crystals.

If the cat is having more severe gastrointestinal distress, continuous vomiting, and diarrhea, it should be closely checked for symptoms of dehydration and given fluid treatment if necessary. 

In situations when there is visible oral swelling, an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine may be administered to the cat. This will assist to reduce swelling, pain, and potential airway obstructions caused by the body’s inflammatory reaction.

Kapectolin may be administered to ease gastrointestinal distress. Kapectolin acts as a coating agent, protecting the stomach lining. Sucralfate can also be used to treat gastrointestinal discomfort because it combines with stomach acids to generate a paste-like substance that functions as a barrier between the stomach and its contents.

Recovery from Variable Dieffenbachia Poisoning in Cats

The cat will recover completely in the great majority of instances within 12 to 24 hours after consumption of the plant. Allow your cat to recover in a peaceful and comfortable environment at home.

Prevention of Variable Dieffenbachia Poisoning in Cats

Avoid growing variable dieffenbachia and other toxic plants at home. If you have one, be sure to remove it right away to prevent another poisoning episode. Keep your home cat-friendly and minimize your cat’s outdoor activities.

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

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