Toxic plants

Is Vinca Toxic To Cats? 

by Clair Chesterman
Is Vinca Toxic To Cats

Vinca is a flowering plant genus in the Apocynaceae family also commonly called periwinkle.

People, dogs, cats, and horses are all at risk from all parts of the vinca plant. There are 30 different Periwinkle plant species and not all of these cultivated species are harmful. Catharanthus roseus is a very toxic variety, but Vinca major and Vinca minor are rarely toxic.

The Vinca (Catharanthus roseus) plant contains alkaloids that can be used in chemotherapy treatments as well as medications for diabetes and high blood pressure. If cats consume these naturally generated toxic alkaloids in the plant, they can become poisoned. Vinca plants are safe to handle and do not damage when touched. To eliminate any poisons that you may have come into touch with, it is essential to wash your hands after planting or trimming.

What Is Vinca?

Vinca flowers with a cat in the background

Vinca plants are herbaceous or subshrubs with thin trailing stem one to two meters tall that grow no higher than 20 to 70 cm above the ground. Vinca plant stems typically take root where they meet the ground, allowing the plant to spread widely. Its leaves are opposite, simple, wide lanceolate to ovate, and opposite. Four species of vincas are evergreen, while the others are deciduous.

The vinca flowers, which bloom for the majority of the growing season, are salver-shaped, simple, and two to seven centimeters wide, with five generally violets (rarely white) petals united at the base to create a tube. The fruit is made up of two diverging follicles, and the dry fruit dehisces along one rupture point to release seeds.

Vinca is commonly found in Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia. Vinca major and Vinca minor are two species that are typically planted as evergreen flowering decorative plants. They are widely used as ground cover in garden landscapes and container gardens because they are low to the ground and spread quickly. In older cemeteries, they are also widely used as an evergreen, low-maintenance ground cover. There are various variations, each with its own plant, leaf, and flower color, size, and habit.

Clinical Signs of Vinca Poisoning in Cats

Vinca and cats

Serious intoxication from vinca ingestion in cats is extremely rare, and lethal intoxication is much rarer. After consuming a portion of the vinca plant, your feline pets may exhibit the following clinical signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Possible cardiac irregularities
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Progressive paralysis
  • Coma
  • Death

First Aid and Treatment of Vinca Poisoning in Cats

Cat looks at Vinca

There is no precise antidote for periwinkle intake, however major medical care is rarely necessary. If the consumption was recent, remove any remaining plant debris from the mouth; if vomiting does not occur, the veterinarian may give hydrogen peroxide orally to induce vomiting. 

Make sure the cat drinks lots of water to minimize dehydration induced by diarrhea. Kapectolin may be also given by the vet to relieve your cat’s gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea.

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 Vinca Poisoning in Cats

Cats only consume a small amount of vinca in most cases, thus they will recover after the gastrointestinal symptoms have disappeared. In some severe cases, long-term liver damage, a compromised immune system, and even death may occur.

Prevention of Vinca Poisoning in Cats

Consider utilizing physical barriers such as ornamental fences to prevent cats from getting too close to the plant. It is better to keep your home cat-friendly and remove the plant completely. Avoid growing or bringing it into your house. Always do your research before buying or bringing plants into your home.

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

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