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Are cats allergic to Jack-in-the-pulpit or is it toxic to them?

Gothic-style illustration of a Jack-in-the-pulpit plant

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), also known as Indian turnip or bog onion, is a flowering plant native to eastern North America. While cats are not technically allergic to this plant, Jack-in-the-pulpit is highly toxic to felines if ingested. The plant contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which can cause severe irritation and damage to a cat’s mouth, throat, and digestive tract.

Jack-in-the-pulpit is commonly found in moist woodlandsbogs, and wetlands throughout its native range.

Toxicity level

High

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Additional image of the plant

Symptoms your cat may have

If a cat ingests any part of a Jack-in-the-pulpit plant, it may experience a range of unpleasant and potentially dangerous symptoms due to the calcium oxalate crystals. These microscopic, needle-like structures cause intense irritation and pain when they contact the soft tissues of the mouth and digestive tract.Common signs that a cat has eaten Jack-in-the-pulpit include:

  • Excessive drooling or hypersalivation
  • Pawing at the mouth or face
  • Oral pain and swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite and refusal to eat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Abdominal pain

In severe cases, a cat may develop breathing difficulties due to swelling of the airways. If large amounts of the plant are consumed, renal failureseizurescoma, and even death can occur. Prompt veterinary care is essential if Jack-in-the-pulpit poisoning is suspected.

Potential diagnosis your Vet may give

If you suspect your cat has ingested Jack-in-the-pulpit, it is crucial to seek veterinary care immediately. Your vet will likely follow these steps to diagnose and treat the poisoning:

  1. Perform a thorough physical exam to assess your cat’s condition and check for signs of oral irritation, swelling, or difficulty breathing.
  2. Take a detailed history, asking about any potential exposure to toxic plants and the onset and progression of symptoms.
  3. Conduct blood tests and a urinalysis to evaluate kidney function and check for signs of calcium oxalate crystals in the urine.
  4. Provide supportive care, which may include intravenous fluidspain reliefanti-inflammatory medications, and antihistamines to reduce swelling.
  5. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary for more intensive treatment and monitoring.

For more information on how veterinarians diagnose and treat Jack-in-the-pulpit poisoning, visit: https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/jack-in-the-pulpit/

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 Jack-in-the-pulpit toxic to cats?

A: Yes, Jack-in-the-pulpit is toxic to cats. Ingestion can cause symptoms like vomiting, drooling, and difficulty swallowing due to the plant’s calcium oxalate crystals.

Q: What symptoms do cats show if they ingest Jack-in-the-pulpit?

A: If a cat ingests Jack-in-the-pulpit, it may show symptoms such as vomiting, excessive drooling, and difficulty swallowing. These symptoms are caused by the plant’s irritating calcium oxalate crystals.

Q: How can I keep my cat safe from Jack-in-the-pulpit?

A: To keep your cat safe from Jack-in-the-pulpit, place the plant in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. Additionally, using pet-safe barriers or deterrents can help prevent your cat from reaching the plant.

Q: Are there any cat-safe alternatives to Jack-in-the-pulpit?

A: Yes, there are several cat-safe alternatives to Jack-in-the-pulpit. Consider plants like catnip, spider plants, and Boston ferns, which are non-toxic and safe for homes with cats.

Q: What should I do if my cat eats Jack-in-the-pulpit?

A: If your cat eats Jack-in-the-pulpit, contact your veterinarian immediately. Prompt action is crucial to address any potential toxicity and prevent severe health issues.

Q: Why is Jack-in-the-pulpit harmful to cats?

A: Jack-in-the-pulpit is harmful to cats because it contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause severe irritation. These crystals can lead to vomiting, drooling, and difficulty swallowing in felines.

History of Jack-in-the-pulpit

Jack-in-the-pulpit is a perennial plant that has been known by many names, including Indian turnipwild turnip, and dragon root. Native American tribes have used the plant for various purposes, such as:

  • food source, with the roots being cooked or dried to remove the toxic calcium oxalate crystals before consumption.
  • Medicinal uses, including treatments for sore eyesrheumatismbronchitis, and snakebites.
  • In folklore and cultural practices, such as the Meskwaki people using the plant to determine the fate of the sick.

The plant’s unique flower structure, with its hooded spathe and central spadix, has also made it a popular subject for botanical illustrations and wildflower enthusiasts. However, its toxicity to pets and livestock has led to it being considered a weed 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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