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Are cats allergic to Coleus or is it toxic to them?

Byzantine-style illustration of a Coleus plant with vibrant green, red, and purple leaves.

Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides) is a popular ornamental plant known for its colorful foliage. However, this plant can be toxic to cats if ingested or if the cat brushes against the leaves.

Coleus contains an essential oil that is poisonous to felines. The plant is commonly found as a houseplant or grown outdoors in gardens and containers.

Toxicity level

Moderate

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Additional image of the plant

Symptoms your cat may have

If a cat ingests coleus or brushes against the plant, it may experience various symptoms due to the toxic essential oils. Common signs of coleus poisoning in cats include:

  • Vomiting (may contain blood)
  • Diarrhea (may contain blood)
  • Drooling or excessive salivation
  • Skin irritation or redness
  • Pawing at the mouth and face
  • Difficulty breathing or respiratory depression
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Tremors or shaking

Potential diagnosis your Vet may give

If you suspect your cat has been exposed to a coleus plant, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care immediately. Your veterinarian will likely perform the following steps to diagnose coleus poisoning:

  1. Obtain a thorough history of your cat’s exposure to the plant
  2. Perform a physical examination to assess symptoms
  3. Run blood tests to evaluate organ function and check for anemia
  4. Analyze a urine sample to check for kidney damage
  5. Use imaging techniques like x-rays or ultrasound to assess internal damage
An illustrative banner depicting an anthropomorphic cat in a vet's office, alongside a call-to-action message that reads: 'If you suspect your pet may have ingested a potentially toxic substance,' accompanied by a prominent button stating 'Find A Vet Near Me!
An illustrative banner depicting an anthropomorphic cat in a vet's office, alongside a call-to-action message that reads: 'If you suspect your pet may have ingested a potentially toxic substance,' accompanied by a prominent button stating 'Find A Vet Near Me!

FAQ

Q: Are cats allergic to Coleus?

A: Yes, cats can be allergic to Coleus. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include itching, sneezing, and skin irritation.

Q: Is Coleus toxic to cats?

A: Yes, Coleus is toxic to cats. Ingesting any part of this plant can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling.

Q: What are the symptoms of Coleus poisoning in cats?

A: Symptoms of Coleus poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and abdominal pain. Immediate veterinary care is recommended if ingestion is suspected.

Q: How can I prevent my cat from coming into contact with Coleus?

A: To prevent contact, ensure that Coleus is not present in your home or garden. Keep your cat indoors or monitor outdoor activities closely to avoid exposure.

Q: What should I do if my cat ingests Coleus?

A: If your cat ingests Coleus, contact your veterinarian immediately. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed by a veterinary professional. Immediate medical attention is necessary.

Q: Is Coleus commonly found in gardens?

A: Yes, Coleus is commonly found in gardens and as an ornamental plant. It is important to ensure this plant is kept out of reach of cats to prevent accidental ingestion.

History of Coleus

Coleus, also known as painted nettle or flame nettle, is native to Southeast Asia and Malaysia. It was introduced to Europe in the 1800s and gained popularity as an ornamental plant during the Victorian era.

Coleus experienced a resurgence in the 1980s and continues to be a favored choice for adding vibrant foliage color to gardens and homes. Hundreds of cultivars have been developed, showcasing a wide variety of leaf colors, patterns, and shapes.

Further reading and sources

Please note: The information shared in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as veterinary medical advice.

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