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Are cats allergic to Devil’s Backbone or is it toxic to them?

Byzantine-style illustration of a Devil’s Backbone plant with intricate patterns

Devil’s Backbone (Euphorbia tithymaloides), also known as redbird cactus, is a succulent plant commonly grown as an indoor houseplant.

While it may be an attractive addition to your home, it poses a significant threat to cats. Devil’s Backbone is highly toxic to felines and can cause severe symptoms if ingested.

Toxicity level

High

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Symptoms your cat may have

If your cat has ingested any part of a Devil’s Backbone plant, they may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Weakness
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

In severe cases, Devil’s Backbone poisoning can lead to collapse and even death if left untreated.

Potential diagnosis your Vet may give

If you suspect your cat has ingested Devil’s Backbone, seek immediate veterinary attention. Your vet will likely perform the following steps to diagnose the poisoning:

  1. Conduct a thorough physical examination
  2. Analyze blood work to assess organ function and electrolyte imbalances
  3. Perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) to evaluate heart rhythm abnormalities

Treatment may include induced vomiting, administration of activated charcoal to bind the toxins, and intravenous fluids to support the body’s functions. For more information on diagnosis and treatment, visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

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 Devil’s Backbone?

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

Q: Is Devil’s Backbone toxic to cats?

A: Yes, Devil’s Backbone, also known as Euphorbia tithymaloides or Pedilanthus tithymaloides, 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 Devil’s Backbone poisoning in cats?

A: Symptoms of Devil’s Backbone poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, abdominal pain, and mouth irritation. Immediate veterinary care is recommended if ingestion is suspected.

Q: How can I prevent my cat from coming into contact with Devil’s Backbone?

A: To prevent contact, ensure that Devil’s Backbone 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 Devil’s Backbone?

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

Q: Is Devil’s Backbone commonly found in gardens?

A: Yes, Devil’s Backbone 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 the Devil's Backbone

Devil’s Backbone is a succulent in the Euphorbiaceae family, native to the Caribbean and Central America. It has been cultivated as an ornamental plant for its unique zig-zag stems and vibrant red bracts.

The plant contains toxic compounds called bufadienolides, which are similar to the cardiac glycosides found in digitalis. These toxins can cause serious harm to cats if consumed.

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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