The flowers, sap, leaves, and seeds of the virgin’s bower contain a variety of poisons that can cause illness in cats. This plant contains both irritating glycosides (such as helleborein, helleborin, and hellebrin) and protoanemonin toxins. While all portions of the plant are poisonous, the newest leaf has the most toxin. Contact with the sap can cause significant skin irritation or burning. The glycosides are sugar-linked compounds that are stripped of their sugar molecules during digestion and become toxic.
What is Virgin’s Bower?
Virgin’s bower (Clematis virginiana) is a Ranunculaceae vine in the Clematis genus. Italian clematis, woodbine, and devil’s darning needle are all common names for the Virgin’s Bower vine. It climbs by wrapping its leaf petioles around upright support, just like other forms of clematis. It is native to North America, ranging from Newfoundland to southern Manitoba and down to the Gulf of Mexico. The native virgin’s bower has delicate white flowers that grow in clusters, while imported varieties have larger blossoms in purples, whites, or reds. The leaves are jagged and grow in sets of trees.This deciduous perennial vine can be found in damp lowlands, thickets, and forests, particularly near streams and ponds. The Virgin’s Bower vine is adept at climbing natural materials such as trees and plants. It can also spread along the ground’s surface, generating a dense canopy of leaves.
Clinical Signs of Virgin’s Bower Poisoning in Cats
The juices inside the virgin’s bower plant cause painful internal and external burning when they come into contact. Mild poisonings usually result in gastrointestinal problems, however, severe poisonings can be fatal. The following are all of the known symptoms of virgin’s bower poisoning.
- Excessive drooling
- Abdominal pain
- Skin and mouth blisters
- Bradycardia (slowed heartbeat)
- Dyspnea (difficulty breathing)
First Aid and Treatment of Virgin’s Bower Poisoning in Cats
The cat will likely respond well to basic treatment if only a tiny bit of the virgin’s bower plant has been consumed. If a substantial amount of food has been consumed, hospitalization may be required.
Emesis using hydrogen peroxide or gastric lavage can be used to empty the stomach contents (stomach pumping), this is to get rid of any undigested plant matter so the body could stop processing more toxins. Demulcent substances that calm the stomach, such as glycerin, honey, or pectin, can aid to relieve irritation in internal membranes. Atropine can be given orally or intravenously to a cat whose blood pressure has dropped dangerously low while the heart is monitored.
Recovery from Virgin’s Bower Poisoning in Cats
Because most cats can only eat a small amount of the plant, the vast majority of them will recover completely within 24 hours. If your cat consumes too much plant matter, he could suffer chronic heart and kidney damage, as well as lung paralysis and death. In a cat struggling from virgin’s bower poisoning, seeking treatment as soon as possible may boost the chances of survival.
Prevention of Virgin’s Bower Poisoning in Cats
Virgin’s bower can be found in both gardens and the wild, posing a threat to any outdoor cat. Keeping your cat indoors prevents it from coming into contact with virgin’s bower or other harmful plants. As a precaution, some may choose to remove the plant from their garden.
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