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Are cats allergic to Ivy Arum or is it toxic to them?

Gothic-style illustration of an Ivy Arum plant

Ivy arum, also known as pothosgolden pothosdevil’s ivy, or taro vine, is a popular houseplant that can be toxic to cats. While not technically an allergy, ingesting any part of the ivy arum plant can cause severe irritation and discomfort for felines.

The plant contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which are released when the leaves or stems are chewed, leading to oral pain, drooling, vomiting and difficulty swallowing in cats. Ivy arum is commonly found as an indoor ornamental plant in homes and offices.

Toxicity level

Moderate to Severe

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Additional image of the plant

Symptoms your cat may have

If a cat ingests or chews on any part of an ivy arum plant, they may experience a range of uncomfortable symptoms due to the calcium oxalate crystals. These microscopic needle-like crystals penetrate the soft tissues of the mouth, tongue, throat and gastrointestinal tract leading to:

  • Excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth
  • Pawing at the face and mouth
  • Oral pain and swelling of the lips and tongue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing

In severe cases where a large amount of the plant has been consumed, a cat may have trouble breathing due to inflammation and swelling of the airway. This is a medical emergency requiring immediate veterinary care.

Potential diagnosis your Vet may give

If you suspect your cat has chewed on or eaten an ivy arum plant, it’s important to contact your veterinarian right away. Diagnosis will involve:

  1. Asking about possible exposure to toxic plants and a description of the symptoms you’ve noticed
  2. Conducting a physical exam to check for oral inflammation, swelling, excessive salivation, etc.
  3. No specific test exists for ivy arum poisoning, but the vet may be able to identify calcium oxalate crystals in the mouth which indicates exposure to plants containing this toxin

Based on the exam findings and history you provide, the veterinarian will likely diagnose ivy arum or calcium oxalate poisoning. Treatment involves rinsing the mouth to remove crystals, medication to control pain and swelling, and IV fluids if the cat is dehydrated from excessive vomiting. With prompt supportive care, the prognosis for recovery is good.

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 Ivy Arum toxic to cats?

A: Yes, Ivy Arum is toxic to cats. Ingestion can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, drooling, and difficulty swallowing.

Q: What symptoms do cats show if they ingest Ivy Arum?

A: If a cat ingests Ivy Arum, it may show symptoms like vomiting, excessive drooling, and difficulty swallowing. These symptoms indicate that the plant’s toxins are affecting your cat’s health.

Q: How can I keep my cat safe from Ivy Arum?

A: To keep your cat safe from Ivy Arum, ensure the plant is placed out of reach. Using barriers or deterrents can also help prevent your cat from accessing the plant.

Q: Are there any cat-safe alternatives to Ivy Arum?

A: Yes, there are several cat-safe alternatives to Ivy Arum. Consider plants like catnip, spider plants, and Boston ferns, which are non-toxic to cats and safe for your home.

Q: What should I do if my cat eats Ivy Arum?

A: If your cat eats Ivy Arum, contact your veterinarian immediately. Quick action is essential to address any potential toxicity and prevent serious health issues.

Q: Why is Ivy Arum harmful to cats?

A: Ivy Arum is harmful to cats because it contains toxic compounds that can irritate their digestive system. These toxins can cause vomiting, drooling, and other adverse health effects in felines.

History of the Ivy Arum

Ivy arum (Epipremnum aureum) is native to French Polynesia but is now found worldwide as a popular houseplant. It was first described in 1880 and has been known by various names like devil’s ivygolden pothos, and taro vine.

The plant thrives in a range of conditions and can grow up to 40 feet long in its natural jungle habitat. As a houseplant, it is valued for its attractive marbled foliage, easy care, and air purifying abilities. However, its toxic properties make it a risky choice for pet owners.

Despite its common name, ivy arum is not a true ivy but rather a member of the Araceae or arum family. Many of its relatives like philodendron and dieffenbachia also contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which can irritate the mouths and digestive tracts of animals.

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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