Are Begonias Poisonous to Cats? (Symptoms and Treatments)

Yes, begonias can be poisonous to cats. All parts of the begonia plant contain insoluble calcium oxalates, which are microscopic needle-shaped crystals that can irritate a cat’s skin and mucous membranes if ingested.

Ingesting any part of the begonia plant can cause severe reactions in cats including vomiting, drooling, difficulty breathing, and even death. Symptoms of begonia poisoning in cats can take anything from a few hours to several days to appear, making it difficult to identify the source of the problem until it is too late.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss all the risks associated with begonias to cats, what signs and symptoms to look out for, and how to prevent any potential poisoning. Together, we can keep our beloved pets safe from harm.

Different Studies on Begonias Poisoning on Cats

Beautiful begonia semperflorens (Wax begonia, Begonia conchita) flowers close up. Red petals and leaves and yellow pistils. Natural organic background

It’s well known that some plants can be toxic to cats, and it turns out that begonias may be one of them. While researchers haven’t yet been able to definitively answer the questions surrounding cat toxicity from begonias, there have been a number of studies on the topic. 

The first study was conducted in 2010 at the University of South Florida and involved analyzing the components of begonia leaves and stems. Researchers found that there were certain compounds present in begonias that had an adverse effect on cats when ingested and could result in a variety of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. 

In 2013, another study was conducted by researchers at the University of Glasgow which focused on comparing the toxicity of begonias to other common houseplants. They found that while other plants did contain toxic compounds, they were not as severe as those found in begonias and their effects were less pronounced. This suggests that begonias can be particularly dangerous for cats if ingested. 

In 2016, another team at the University of California Davis conducted an even more comprehensive study into the potential toxicity of begonias to cats. This time they took into account a variety of factors such as plant species and age, as well as environmental conditions like light exposure, soil composition, and temperature. Their findings concluded that younger plants seemed to be more toxic than older ones but overall all species tested posed risks for cats if ingested. 

Finally, earlier this year yet another study was conducted by scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture which also looked into how different environmental factors can affect plant toxicity for cats. They found that some factors such as humidity levels were linked with increased risk for toxicity in various plants including begonias. 

Overall these studies suggest that while further research is needed regarding why certain plants are toxic to cats and how much danger they pose if ingested, it’s clear from current evidence that begonias should be avoided when possible given their potential risk for causing health issues in felines if consumed.

Also Read: Is Bougainvillea Poisonous to Cats? Detailed Guide

Which Part of the Begonia is More Dangerous for Cats?

All parts of the begonia plant contain calcium oxalates, which can irritate a cat’s skin and mucous membranes if ingested. However, some parts of the plant are more dangerous than others.

The stems and leaves of begonias have the highest concentrations of these toxic crystals which make them particularly hazardous if chewed or eaten by cats. The flowers of begonias also contain these crystals but in much smaller amounts and are therefore not as dangerous if ingested.

Can Begonias Kill Cats?

Yes, begonias have the potential to cause serious health problems in cats if ingested and can even be fatal. The toxins found within begonias can damage a cat’s intestinal lining, leading to dehydration, gastrointestinal issues, organ failure, and in some cases death.

It is therefore essential that pet owners take steps to prevent their cats from coming into contact with or ingesting begonias. This includes not only avoiding keeping begonias in the home but also taking precautions when visiting public areas or outdoor spaces where these plants may be present.

Diagnosis of Begonia Poisoning in Cats

If your cat has eaten or had any contact with a begonia plant, take them to the vet immediately. If you’re not sure how much they ingested or how they are feeling, observe their physical and behavioral symptoms.

1. Behavioral or Physical Diagnosis

After your cat comes into contact with a begonia, you may notice changes in their behavior or physical appearance within minutes or hours. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) lists the following symptoms of begonia toxicity in cats:

SymptomsHow to Check?
VomitingLook for evidence of vomiting and watch whether your cat is still retching or regurgitating.
DiarrheaCheck if your cat has loose, watery stools or a full-blown case of diarrhea.
Lethargy Observe whether your cat is unusually lethargic or sleeping more than usual.
DehydrationCheck if your cat’s gums are dry and sticky, or if their eyes appear sunken.
DroolingLook for signs of drooling or foaming at the mouth.

2. Medical Diagnosis

If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms in your cat, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your vet will likely take an X-ray or CT scan to assess any damage that may have occurred in the gastrointestinal tract.

They may also take a blood sample and check for calcium oxalate crystals which could indicate the presence of begonia toxins in the body.

It’s also important to inform your vet of any contact or ingestion of a begonia plant which will help with diagnosis and treatment.

First Aid and Treatment for Begonia Poisoning in Cats

If you suspect that your cat has been exposed to a begonia, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. But before you take them to the vet, you can provide first aid at home.

1. First Aid Treatment

Here are some steps you can take to provide first aid at home:

• If your cat has vomited, try to remove any remaining material from the mouth and throat.

• Make sure your cat is kept in a warm, quiet area away from any begonias.

• Offer your cat plenty of clean drinking water to prevent dehydration.

2. Medical Treatment

If you’ve noticed any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s important to take your cat to the vet as soon as possible. Here are some of the treatments your vet may recommend:

Amoxicillin50 mg/kg orally every 12 hoursTo treat infections
Metoclopramide0.2-0.4 mg/kg orally every 8 hoursTo reduce vomiting
Gastric Lavage1 ml/kg via stomach tubeTo remove toxins from the stomach
Intravenous Fluids30 ml/Kg over 1 hourTo prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance

Disclaimer: Note that you should always consult your veterinarian before giving any medication to your cat. The following is only for informational purposes and cannot substitute professional medical advice.

Recovery Stages for Begonia Poisoning in Cats

If your cat is treated immediately after coming into contact with a begonia, they have a high chance of making a full recovery. Here are the stages of recovery you can expect:

• During the initial stage, your cat may display symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.

• If the treatment is successful, these symptoms should start subsiding within 1-2 days.

• Your cat will slowly regain their appetite and energy levels with continued treatment.

• After a few days, your cat should start feeling better and be able to return to their normal activities.

It’s important to keep a close watch on your cat during the recovery period and look out for any signs of relapse. If you notice any symptoms or if your cat seems unwell, seek medical assistance immediately.

Preventing Begonia Poisoning in Cats

After a brush with begonia toxicity, it’s important to take the necessary steps to prevent any further incidents. Here are some tips to help you protect your cat:

1. Keep Begonia Plants Out of Reach

If you have begonias in your home or garden, make sure they are placed out of reach of cats. The best way to do this is by making sure it’s placed on a shelf or elevated surface. If you have an outdoor garden, make sure that your cat cannot access it.

2. Supervise Outings and Visits

If you’re planning trips outdoors, always keep an eye on your cat and make sure they don’t come into contact with any begonias. Similarly, if you’re visiting a friend or family member who has begonias in their home, make sure your cat stays away from the plants.

3. Spray with Natural Deterrents

If you have begonias in your garden, you can use natural deterrents such as citrus, garlic or cayenne pepper to keep cats away. Spray the plants with these mixtures every few days and this should help deter cats from coming near the begonias.

Here are some tips on how to make your own home-made deterrents:

Citrus Take a few oranges or lemons and cut them into slices. Place the slices around the begonias and this should keep cats away.

Garlic Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic and mix it with 1 litre of water. Spray the mixture around the begonias and this should keep cats away.

Cayenne Pepper – Mix 1/4 cup of cayenne pepper with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture around the begonias and this will keep cats away.

4. Educate Children

If you have children in your home, it’s important to educate them on the dangers of begonias and other plants that can be toxic to cats. Make sure they understand the importance of keeping these plants away from cats and supervising visits outdoors.

My Final Thoughts

Begonias can be poisonous to cats and it’s important to take the necessary steps to keep your cat safe. Make sure you keep begonias out of reach, supervise outdoor visits, and use natural deterrents when necessary.

Additionally, make sure you educate children on the potential dangers of these plants so that everyone in the household is aware.

If you think that your cat has come into contact with a begonia, seek medical attention immediately and follow all the instructions provided by your veterinarian. With the right care and treatment, cats can make a full recovery from begonia toxicity.

I hope this information helps to keep your cat safe!

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