What Happens if a Cat Eats Pothos: Quick Facts and Solutions

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Pothos is a popular houseplant that’s known for its attractive foliage, but it can be toxic to cats if ingested. If your cat has eaten Pothos, it’s important to take immediate action to ensure their safety and well-being. In this article, we’ll explore the symptoms of Pothos poisoning in cats, as well as some steps you can take to treat your cat and prevent further harm. We’ll also provide some tips for keeping your pets safe around houseplants in the future.

What Is Pothos?

Pothos, scientifically known as Epipremnum aureum, is a popular houseplant that belongs to the Araceae family. It is often referred to as Devil’s Ivy or Golden Pothos due to its beautiful, trailing vines and heart-shaped leaves with golden-yellow marbling or variegation. This low-maintenance plant is admired for its ability to thrive in various light conditions and is commonly used as a decorative element in homes and offices.

Although Pothos can enhance the aesthetics of a living space, it also poses a risk to our feline friends. The plant contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which can be toxic to cats if ingested. When a cat takes a bite of the Pothos leaves, these crystals can cause a range of symptoms due to irritation and inflammation in the oral cavity and gastrointestinal tract.

Some common symptoms a cat may experience after ingesting Pothos include:

  • Eye irritation
  • Mouth irritation
  • Tongue swelling and/or irritation
  • Excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pawing at face, mouth, or eyes

If you suspect that your cat has consumed any part of a Pothos plant, it is crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention. The veterinarian may initiate treatments such as decontamination, administration of medications to relieve symptoms, and monitoring the affected cat’s progress until they fully recover. To prevent Pothos poisoning in cats, pet owners should ensure that Pothos plants are kept out of reach or are replaced with non-toxic alternatives.

Why Pothos Is Toxic to Cats

Calcium Oxalate Crystals

Pothos plants possess insoluble calcium oxalate crystals within their structure. These crystals can be damaging to a cat’s soft tissues, such as those in their mouth, throat, and stomach. Cats may feel unwell if they consume any part of the pothos plant. It is important to understand that these calcium oxalate crystals are the primary cause behind the plant’s toxicity to cats.

Clinical Signs

When a cat ingests pothos, it may experience several clinical signs related to the plant’s toxicity. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Oral irritation: Intense burning feeling in the lips, tongue, and mouth
  • Excessive drooling due to the irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Weakness, nausea, and general discomfort

Due to their natural ability to hide pain and discomfort, it might be challenging to recognize some of these symptoms in cats initially. If your cat exhibits any of these signs, it is vital to seek veterinary assistance immediately to ensure there are no severe complications resulting from the consumption of pothos. It’s worth noting that, in some cases, pothos poisoning can be fatal if left untreated.

What to Do If Your Cat Eats Pothos

Immediate Actions

If you suspect your cat has ingested a pothos plant, it’s crucial to act quickly. First, remove any remaining plant material from your cat’s mouth, and clean its face and paws to prevent further ingestion due to licking. It is essential to monitor your cat for any symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, or pawing at the face.

Some immediate steps to help your cat:

  • Rinse their mouth out with water to help alleviate irritation
  • Observe for possible symptoms, and make a note of them to inform your vet

Seeking Veterinary Care

If your cat shows signs of poisoning, it is essential to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. These symptoms may include eye irritation, mouth irritation, tongue swelling, difficulty swallowing, diarrhea, or difficulty breathing1. Your veterinarian may need to perform specific treatments to alleviate discomfort and reduce the effects of the pothos toxin.

At the vet, treatments your cat may undergo include:

  • Flushing of the cat’s mouth and stomach2
  • Gastric lavage (stomach wash) to remove as many crystals as possible2
  • Administration of dairy products, as anecdotal evidence suggests that these can help with your cat’s pain2

Remember, keeping an eye on your cat’s symptoms and acting promptly can make a significant difference in their recovery. Be diligent and consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your cat’s wellbeing.

Preventing Pothos Poisoning in Cats

Safe Plant Alternatives

There are several non-toxic plants that cat owners can keep in their homes as alternatives to pothos. Some of these safe plants include:

  • Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum)
  • Boston Ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata)
  • Areca Palms (Dypsis lutescens)
  • Maranta or the Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)

These plants not only brighten up your home but also pose no harm to your feline friends, ensuring their safety.

Home Safety Measures

Implementing a few home safety measures can effectively prevent pothos poisoning in cats. Some of these measures include:

  1. Keep Pothos Out of Reach: Place your pothos plants in inaccessible areas, such as high shelves or hanging planters, making it difficult for your cat to reach them.
  2. Monitor Your Cat: Observe your cat’s behavior and make sure they are not showing interest in the pothos plant.
  3. Educate Family Members: Ensure that all family members understand the dangers of pothos plants for cats, and not to bring them into the home.
  4. Remove Pothos Plants: If you’re unable to keep the plant out of reach or if your cat continues to show interest, consider removing the pothos plant altogether to eliminate the risk.

By following these safety measures, you can protect your cat from the harmful effects of ingesting pothos and maintain a feline-friendly environment.

Long-Term Effects on Cats

When a cat consumes pothos, it can lead to a variety of symptoms that may have long-term consequences. One of the main concerns is damage to the digestive tract, which can make it painful or nearly impossible for the cat to eat. Prolonged issues with eating can result in malnutrition and weight loss. In some cases, if golden pothos poisoning is left untreated for up to two weeks, it can cause kidney failure, which could have severe effects on the cat’s health.

Pothos poisoning can also cause irritation in the cat’s mouth, tongue, and throat, making it difficult for the cat to swallow. This could lead to a decrease in appetite and further contribute to malnutrition. The irritation might cause the cat to excessively paw at its face or mouth, potentially leading to skin infections or injuries.

Some other long-term effects of pothos poisoning in cats can include:

  • Persistent vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Breathing difficulties

If a cat owner suspects their cat has ingested pothos, it is crucial to seek immediate veterinary care. Early medical intervention can help mitigate the long-term effects mentioned above and ensure the cat’s recovery. Treatment may involve inducing vomiting and providing supportive care, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

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