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

Byzantine-style illustration of a Foxglove with purple and pink flowers

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is a tall, flowering plant known for its vibrant, bell-shaped blossoms that come in shades of pink, purple, and white. While beautiful, foxglove is highly toxic to cats and can cause severe illness or even death if ingested.

Cats are not actually allergic to foxglove, but the plant contains dangerous compounds called cardiac glycosides that disrupt the heart‘s normal function. Foxglove is commonly found in gardens, woodlands, and along roadsides.

Toxicity level

High

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Symptoms your cat may have

If a cat ingests any part of the foxglove plant, they may experience a range of troubling symptoms. These can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

In severe cases, foxglove poisoning can lead to heart failure and death. Seek immediate veterinary care if you suspect your cat has eaten any part of a foxglove plant.

Potential diagnosis your Vet may give

If you bring your cat to the vet after suspected foxglove ingestion, they will likely perform the following steps to diagnose and treat the poisoning:

  1. Take a thorough history and ask about any plants the cat may have had access to
  2. Perform a physical exam to check vitals and look for symptoms
  3. Run bloodwork to assess organ function and electrolyte balance
  4. Monitor the heart with an ECG
  5. Provide supportive care such as IV fluids, heart medications, and activated charcoal to bind the toxins
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 Foxglove?

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

Q: Is Foxglove toxic to cats?

A: Yes, Foxglove is highly toxic to cats. Ingesting any part of this plant can cause severe symptoms and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

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

A: Symptoms of Foxglove poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, lethargy, abnormal heart rate, tremors, and seizures. Immediate veterinary care is crucial if ingestion is suspected.

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

A: To prevent contact, ensure that Foxglove 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 Foxglove?

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

Q: Is Foxglove commonly found in gardens?

A: Yes, Foxglove 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 Foxglove

Foxglove is native to Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia. It was introduced to the United States as an ornamental garden plant in the 1700s. The plant gets its name from the old English word “foxes-glew”, which means “fox music”. This may refer to the resemblance of the flower spikes to an ancient musical instrument.

Medicinally, foxglove has been used since the 1500s. It is the original source of the heart medication digoxin, which is made from the cardiac glycosides found in the plant’s leaves. However, the plant itself is dangerous to ingest and the medication must be carefully formulated. Historically, foxglove was used to treat epilepsy, tuberculosis, and even as a diuretic before its effects on the heart were fully understood.

Today, foxglove is still a popular garden plant, but should be avoided in households with cats or other pets due to its toxicity. With prompt treatment, many cats can recover from foxglove poisoning.

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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