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Are cats allergic to False Bittersweet or is it toxic to them?

Illustration of an American Bittersweet plant in Ukiyo-e style

The False Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), also known as American BittersweetClimbing Bittersweet, or Waxwork, is a deciduous woody vine native to eastern North America. While not typically associated with allergies in cats, this plant contains toxic compounds that can cause serious health issues  if ingested.

The False Bittersweet is commonly found in woodlands, thickets, and along fences or walls where it can climb using its twining stems.

Toxicity level

High

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Additional image of the plant

Symptoms your cat may have

If a cat ingests any part of the False Bittersweet plant, it may experience various symptoms due to the toxic plant compounds present. The severity of the symptoms depends on the amount of plant material consumed. Common signs of False Bittersweet poisoning in cats include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Abdominal pain
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite

Potential diagnosis your Vet may give

If you suspect your cat has ingested False Bittersweet, it is crucial to seek veterinary care immediately. Your veterinarian will likely perform the following steps to diagnose and treat your cat:

  1. Physical examination to assess overall health and check for signs of poisoning
  2. Blood work to evaluate organ function and electrolyte balance
  3. Induce vomiting to remove any remaining plant material from the stomach
  4. Administer activated charcoal to bind to toxins and prevent further absorption
  5. Provide supportive care, such as IV fluids, pain management, and anti-seizure medication if needed
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 False Bittersweet?

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

Q: Is False Bittersweet toxic to cats?

A: Yes, False Bittersweet, also known as Celastrus scandens, 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 False Bittersweet poisoning in cats?

A: Symptoms of False Bittersweet 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 False Bittersweet?

A: To prevent contact, ensure that False Bittersweet 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 False Bittersweet?

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

Q: Is False Bittersweet commonly found in gardens?

A: False Bittersweet is more commonly found in wild areas and along roadsides rather than home gardens. However, if you do have this plant in your vicinity, it is important to ensure it is kept out of reach of cats to prevent accidental ingestion.

History of the False Bittersweet

False Bittersweet has a long history of use by Native American tribes for medicinal purposes, such as treating venereal diseasestuberculosis, and inducing vomiting.

The plant was introduced to Europe in the 1860s as an ornamental vine and has since been cultivated for its attractive fruit and foliage. However, due to its invasive nature and toxicity, False Bittersweet is now considered a problematic species in some areas.

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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