Is Clematis Poisonous to Cats? (Symptoms to Watch)

Yes, according to ASPCA, clematis (Clematis spp.) is considered poisonous to cats. This climbing vine contains irritant glycoside (Protoanemonin) in its leaves and stems which makes it a potential hazard for cats.

All parts of the clematis plant are toxic, and if ingested even in small amounts, can cause severe gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea. Additionally, glycoside can cause skin and eye irritation if touched or handled.

Here in this blog post, I’ll be discussing the danger of clematis and why it’s important to protect your cats from coming in contact with this plant. I’ll also provide some tips on how to ensure the safety of your cats by providing them with a safe environment free of clematis plants.

So, read on to learn more about these plants and how you can keep your cats safe.

Different Studies on Clematis Poisoning to Cats 

Different Studies on Clematis Poisoning to Cats 

Recently, a study conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) found that 75 percent of cats exposed to clematis experienced gastrointestinal distress, while 25 percent suffered neurological symptoms.

The researchers concluded that the risk associated with clematis exposure is high enough to warrant caution when these plants are present in a home environment or garden where a cat might access them. 

Additional research has sought to strengthen this conclusion by studying the effect of specific compounds found in clematis species on feline physiology.

A team led by researchers at Cornell University identified two terpenoid compounds (iridoid glycosides) that appear capable of causing toxicity in cats after ingestion. This research confirmed previous findings regarding the effects of both compounds on felines and further increased our understanding of how they can influence feline health generally. 

Other studies have focused on different aspects related to clematis toxicity in cats, such as its prevalence among various breeds and differences between domesticated and wild cats.

For example, a paper published in Veterinary Record noted that domestic cats were three times more likely than their wild counterparts to show signs of poisoning after eating clematis leaves or stems.

It also revealed that certain breeds such as Siamese, Bengal, Ragdoll, and British Shorthair were at higher risk than others due to their tendency toward plant-eating behavior.

Also Read: Are Coffee Plants Toxic to Cats? (Symptoms & Treatments)

Which Part of Clematis is Most Poisonous?

The most toxic part of the clematis plant is its stem. This is because it contains higher concentrations of glycoside known to cause irritation in cats.

The leaves, on the other hand, contain lower concentrations but can still be dangerous if ingested. Additionally, the sap from broken stems or leaves is also known to be irritating and should be avoided as much as possible.

Diagnosis of Clematis Poisoning to Cats

If you are concerned your cat has been poisoned by ingesting clematis, then responding swiftly is paramount. Even if your furry pal seems to be in perfect health, a vet appointment should still be made urgently so that any necessary treatments can begin right away. Timely action could save the life of your beloved pet!

1. Behavioral or Physical Diagnosis

If you believe that your feline has come into contact with clematis and is displaying any behavioral or physical changes, this may be a symptom of poisoning.

You should take extra caution to observe these alterations which will aid the vet in making an accurate diagnosis. If your beloved pet ingests any portion of the clematis plant, symptoms would likely manifest within 60 minutes.

Symptoms of Clematis Poisoning to Cats

According to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and other research studies, the most common symptoms of clematis poisoning in cats are:

SymptomsHow to Identify?
Excessive SalivationSigns such as drooling and wet fur around the mouth
Nausea and VomitingCat may retch or expel substances that look like grass
Diarrhea Loose, watery stools
LethargyReduced energy, sleepiness, lack of interest in activities
Change in AppetiteLoss of appetite or sudden increase in food consumption
Eye DischargeWatery, red or discolored eyes
Breathing Difficulties Wheezing, panting, shallow breathing
Loss of CoordinationLoss of balance and inability to walk properly.

2. Medical Diagnosis

In most cases, a vet will perform a physical examination to ensure there are no underlying medical conditions that could be causing the symptoms. Here I’ll give you a glimpse of what to expect:

a. Blood tests

A complete blood count (CBC) will assess the health of the red and white blood cells, while chemistry tests measure the levels of liver and kidney enzymes in the body. These results can provide a better understanding of your cat’s overall condition and help to determine if further treatments are needed.

b. Urine and Fecal Exams

From a urine sample, the vet can detect toxins in the body and assess if there’s any damage to the internal organs. A fecal exam will help to determine if your cat has been exposed to any parasites or bacteria that could be making them unwell.

c. Ultrasound

An ultrasound can be used to check for any abnormalities within the gastrointestinal tract and give a clearer understanding of what is going on internally.

d. X-ray

X-rays are an excellent tool for diagnosing clematis poisoning, as they can reveal damage or blockages within the digestive system caused by ingestion of the plant’s toxins.

e. Intestinal Biopsy

In more severe cases, an intestinal biopsy can be performed to detect any damage that may have been caused by clematis ingestion. This procedure involves taking a small sample of tissue from the intestines and examining it under a microscope.

First Aid Treatment for Cats Poisoned by Clematis

If you suspect that your cat has been poisoned, it is important to act quickly and seek medical attention. In the meantime, here are a few steps that you can take to help reduce the effects of clematis poisoning:

1. Remove Chewing Material

The first step is to remove any chewing material such as leaves, stems or flowers from the vicinity. Take care not to touch them with your bare hands, as these items can contain toxins that can be absorbed through the skin.

Here are a few tips for safely disposing of them:

  • Wear gloves when handling the material
  • Place it in a sealed bag or container
  • Dispose of it in a bin far away from your pet

2. Move Your Cat to a Quiet and Dark Place 

It’s time to relocate your cat to a quiet and dark place such as a bathroom or spare bedroom, away from any potential sources of stress. This will help to reduce the effects of the poison and give your cat time to recover.

To ensure your feline friend is feeling their best, here are some tips to make them as happy and content as can be:

  • Provide a blanket or cushion for them to lay on
  • Place food and water within reach
  • Talk to them in a gentle voice and offer comfort
  • Place a litter box nearby so they can relieve themselves

3. Give your Cat Fluid/ Milk

Giving your cat fluids like water or milk can help to flush out the toxins from the body. Make sure to offer it in small amounts as too much can cause further vomiting and discomfort.

To ensure proper hydration, here are some helpful hints for administering fluids:

  • Use a syringe or dropper to control the amount given
  • Warm it up slightly before giving it to your cat
  • Give them frequent small amounts rather than one large amount

4. Call the Vet Immediately

Once you are sure that your cat is in a safe and comfortable place, make sure to give your vet a call. They will be able to advise you on what steps to take next and if hospitalization is necessary for further treatment.

Veterinary Treatments for Clematis Poisoning to Cats

My professional recommendation would be to seek immediate medical attention for your cat if you suspect that they have ingested the clematis plant. Depending on the severity of the poisoning, the vet may advise a few different treatments.

a. Intravenous Fluids

I know that it is not the most pleasant of treatments, but it is necessary to flush out the toxins from the body. Intravenous fluids are administered through a needle inserted into the cat’s vein and help to maintain blood pressure and hydration levels.

Here are a few tips for administering intravenous fluids:

  • Observe your cat closely during the procedure
  • Administer the fluids slowly and carefully
  • Monitor your cat’s response to the procedure

b. Medications

Your vet may also prescribe medications such as anti-nausea, anti-vomiting and anti-diarrheal drugs to help reduce the effects of the poison.

To counter clematis poisoning, here are some effective medications to consider:

Antihistamines0.5-1 mg/kgReduces inflammation and itching
Benzodiazepines0.5-4 mg/kgReduces anxiety, seizures and restlessness
Metoclopramide 0.5-2 mg/kPrevents nausea and vomiting

Warning: Always consult with a veterinarian before giving your cat any medication. This article is for informational purposes only and does not substitute professional veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Additionally, here are some tips to keep in mind when administering medications:

  • Follow the vet’s instructions carefully
  • Ask your vet to demonstrate how to give the medication
  • Give the medication at meal times to increase its effectiveness
  • Monitor your cat’s response to the medication

c. Diet Changes

It is important that your pet has access to the nutrients they need to recover. To prevent further stomach discomfort, make sure that your cat has access to foods that are easy to digest and low in fat.

Finally, here are some tips on how to manage your cat’s diet:

  • Offer foods with high-quality ingredients
  • Avoid highly processed and fatty foods
  • Offer smaller but frequent meals
  • Monitor your cat’s food intake to ensure that they are eating
  • Give them an appropriate amount of food for their size

d. Emergency Surgery (if necessary)

In severe cases, a vet may recommend surgery to remove the obstruction caused by the ingested plant. This requires general anesthesia and careful monitoring during the procedure.

If you’re worried about your feline going under the knife for surgery, keep these few helpful tips in mind:

  • Ensure that the vet is experienced and qualified for the procedure
  • Follow the pre-operative instructions given by the vet
  • Monitor your cat’s recovery progress and look out for any signs of discomfort or distress
  • Take necessary steps to reduce stress on your pet during the healing period

Recovery Stages for Clematis Poisoning in Cats

After going through the necessary treatments, your cat should make a full recovery within a few days. During the healing period, make sure they get plenty of rest and provide an environment that is free from stress.

To ensure you have a clearer understanding of the recovery process, let me take you through each step and explain what needs to be done:

a. Stage 1: Monitoring (0-5 days)

For the first few days after the treatment, your cat will need to be monitored closely. This is to ensure that they are not experiencing any discomfort or distress caused by the poison. Additionally, monitor their food and water intake to ensure that they are eating and drinking regularly.

b. Stage 2: Supportive Care (5-14 days)

After the initial monitoring period, your cat will need supportive care for the next few days to help them recover fully. Make sure you provide them with a comfortable and stress-free environment. Additionally, ensure that they have access to fresh water and nutritious, easily digestible food.

c. Stage 3: Prevention (14+ days)

After the recovery period has passed, it’s important to take steps to prevent such an event from happening again in the future. Keep the plant away from your cat and consider switching to a more pet-friendly alternative if possible. Additionally, make sure that all toxins are out of reach and always keep an eye on your cat when they’re exploring outdoors.

How to Prevent Clematis Poisoning in Cats?

It is important to remember that prevention is better than cure when it comes to clematis poisoning in cats. Here are some helpful tips on how to prevent such an event from happening:

1. Avoid Total Access

While it is important to give your cat ample access to the outdoors, make sure they cannot get into any plant beds or gardens where clematis could be growing.

To ensure the safety of your furry companion here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Trim your trees and shrubs to prevent access from the ground.
  • Put a fence around any plant beds or gardens in your backyard.
  • Install window guards to prevent access from the windows.
  • Put up screens or netting around any balconies in your home.

2. Use Something to Deter Them

If your cat loves to explore areas with clematis, you may want to consider using something to deter them. This could be anything from a strong-smelling spray to an artificial plant.

Here I’ll explain what you can do to deter your cat from exploring such areas:

  • Sprinkle chili powder or cayenne pepper around the area where clematis is present
  • Place some citrus peels or slices around the area.
  • Place a strong-smelling spray (such as citronella or eucalyptus) around the area.

3. Proper Diet with Supplements

It is also important to make sure that your cat is getting a proper diet with all the necessary nutrients and supplements. This will help to boost their immunity and make them less susceptible to toxins.

For an enjoyable and satisfactory petting experience for both you and your cat, here are a few tips to consider when feeding them:

  • Feed them food that is specifically tailored for cats, such as kibble or wet food
  • Give them supplements that are specifically designed for cats (e.g. probiotics or multivitamins)
  • Keep treats and snacks to a minimum as they can be high in sugar, which can be bad for their overall health

4. Pet-Friendly Alternatives

I know it can be hard to completely remove all poisonous plants from your home or garden, so why not try some pet-friendly alternatives? There are plenty of plants that are safe for cats and can still bring life and color to any space.

But remember, never let your cat eat any plants, as even pet-friendly options can still be dangerous if ingested. Here are some helpful tips when it comes to choosing pet-friendly plants:

  • Choose plants that are non-toxic to cats, such as spider plants or bamboo
  • Avoid plants with sharp edges or thorns, as these can cause injury
  • Consider placing the pet-friendly plants in areas that your cat has restricted access to
  • Be aware of any allergens that could be present in the plants, as some cats may react negatively to certain plants

5. Train Your Cat

Training your cat to stay away from dangerous plants is also a great way to prevent clematis poisoning. You can begin by teaching them basic commands like sit and stay, then gradually increase the difficulty by introducing new commands.

It is important to remember that consistency is key when it comes to training your pet. Here are some helpful tips for successful training:

  • Be consistent and use positive reinforcement when training your cat
  • Give treats as rewards for obeying commands
  • Use a timeout if your cat is not following commands
  • Be patient, as training takes time and cats can be stubborn

My Final Thoughts

In conclusion, I strongly urge all cat owners to be aware of the risks that clematis poses and take appropriate measures to keep their cats safe.

Taking the right precautions, such as using pet-friendly alternatives and training your cats can help ensure that they stay healthy and away from dangerous plants.

If you believe your cat has consumed clematis or is exhibiting any signs of poisoning, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Remember, prevention is always better than cure!

Good luck and happy petting!

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