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Are cats allergic to Hercules’ Club or is it toxic to them?

Gothic-style illustration of a Hercules' Club plant

The Hercules’ Club, also known as the Devil’s Walking StickPrickly AshPrickly Elder, or Angelica Tree, is a large perennial plant that can be toxic to cats if ingested.

While not an allergy per se, this plant contains a toxin callearaliin which can cause irritation and discomfort in cats. Hercules’ Club is commonly found as a decorative plant around walkways, patios, and gardens.

Toxicity level

Moderate

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Additional image of the plant

Symptoms your cat may have

If a cat ingests any part of the Hercules’ Club plant, they may experience various symptoms due to the toxic compound araliin. These symptoms usually appear shortly after consumption and can include:

  • Skin irritation or inflammation in the oral cavity
  • Excessive drooling or hypersalivation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal upset

Potential diagnosis your Vet may give

If you suspect your cat has ingested Hercules’ Club, take them to a veterinarian promptly. The vet will assess the symptoms and may follow these steps for diagnosis:

  1. Observe the cat’s symptoms and collect a history of potential exposure to toxins.
  2. Take a sample of the cat’s vomit, if available, to test for toxins or clues about what was ingested.
  3. Perform a gastric lavage (stomach wash) to remove any remaining plant material.
  4. Administer treatments such as inducing vomiting, giving Kapectolin to soothe the stomach, or Sucralfate to protect the stomach lining.
  5. Provide IV fluids to prevent dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea.

For more information on treating plant poisoning in cats, consult with your veterinarian or visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control website.

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: Is Hercules’ Club toxic to cats?

A: Yes, Hercules’ Club is toxic to cats. Ingesting this plant can cause symptoms such as vomiting, drooling, and difficulty breathing.

Q: What are the symptoms of Hercules’ Club poisoning in cats?

A: Symptoms of Hercules’ Club poisoning in cats include vomiting, drooling, and difficulty breathing. Cats may also experience weakness and lethargy.

Q: How can I treat Hercules’ Club poisoning in cats?

A: If your cat has ingested Hercules’ Club, seek immediate veterinary care. Treatment usually involves supportive care to manage symptoms and prevent further complications.

Q: Are there other plants similar to Hercules’ Club that are toxic to cats?

A: Yes, other plants like Angel’s Trumpet and Oleander are also toxic to cats. It’s important to keep these and other harmful plants out of reach of your pets.

Q: How can I prevent my cat from eating Hercules’ Club?

A: To prevent your cat from eating Hercules’ Club, place the plant in an area inaccessible to your cat or opt for pet-safe plants. Providing alternative chew toys and engaging activities can also help deter your cat from chewing on houseplants.

Q: What should I do if my cat shows signs of poisoning after eating Hercules’ Club?

A: If your cat shows signs of poisoning after eating Hercules’ Club, contact your veterinarian immediately. Prompt treatment is essential to alleviate symptoms and prevent serious health issues.

History of Hercules' Club

Native Americans historically used the bark of the Hercules’ Club tree for various medicinal purposes. They would consume the bark to induce vomiting, make tinctures for treating skin diseases and rheumatism, and even use it to treat syphilis.

The berries, when dried and powdered, were used to relieve toothaches and other body pains, as well as serving as a strong laxative for constipation. Parts of the plant were also used as a sialogogue to stimulate saliva production in conditions causing dry mouth and throat.

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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