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

Byzantine Art Style Illustration of a Dieffenbachia Plant

Dieffenbachia, also known as dumb cane or leopard lily, is a popular houseplant known for its attractive foliage. However, cat owners should be aware that this plant is highly toxic to cats.

Dieffenbachia contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which can cause severe irritation and inflammation in the mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal tract if ingested by cats. This tropical plant is commonly found as an indoor ornamental plant in homes and offices.

Toxicity level

Moderate

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Additional image of the plant

Symptoms your cat may have

If a cat chews on or ingests any part of a Dieffenbachia plant, it will quickly begin to show signs of oral irritation. Common symptoms include:

  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of the mouth, tongue, and throat
  • Difficulty breathing (in severe cases)

The cat may also experience abdominal pain and distended stomach if a significant amount of the plant was consumed.

Potential diagnosis your Vet may give

If you suspect your cat has ingested Dieffenbachia, take them to a veterinarian immediately. The vet will perform an oral examination to look for signs of irritation and swelling caused by the calcium oxalate crystals. They may also:

  1. Rinse your cat’s mouth with milk to help dissolve the crystals
  2. Administer anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling
  3. Provide gastroprotectant drugs to soothe the stomach lining
  4. Give intravenous fluids if the cat is dehydrated from vomiting
  5. Prescribe antibiotics if aspiration pneumonia develops

More information: Dieffenbachia Toxicity in Dogs and Cats

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 Dieffenbachia?

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

Q: Is Dieffenbachia toxic to cats?

A: Yes, Dieffenbachia, also known as Dumb Cane, is highly toxic to cats. Ingesting any part of this plant can cause severe symptoms and can be harmful if not treated promptly.

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

A: Symptoms of Dieffenbachia poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, and swelling of the mouth and throat. Immediate veterinary care is crucial if ingestion is suspected.

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

A: To prevent contact, ensure that Dieffenbachia 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 Dieffenbachia?

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

Q: Is Dieffenbachia commonly found in homes and gardens?

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

History of Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachia is native to the tropical regions of Mexico, the West Indies, and South America. It was named after Joseph Dieffenbach, a head gardener at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna during the 1800s.

Sadly, the plant has a dark past. In the West Indies, slave owners would use Dieffenbachia as a cruel punishment, rubbing the toxic sap on slaves’ tongues to cause intense pain and swelling. This abuse is the origin of the common name “dumb cane.”

The Nazis also considered using Dieffenbachia sap to sterilize prisoners, but were unable to obtain sufficient quantities of the plant.

Today, Dieffenbachia is a popular ornamental houseplant, appreciated for its attractive variegated foliage. However, its toxic properties make it dangerous for cats and other pets.

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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