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Hibiscus Poisoning in Cats [Diagnosis and Recovery Tips]

Hibiscus is a hearty garden friend for most houseplants, but it may not be cheerful for your feline companions, and their friendship may prove toxic for your cats!

Although most varieties of Hibiscus are safe for cats, some may prove mildly poisonous. Nibbling of Hibiscus parts may cause oral and topical irritations, and stomach distress, like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss due to the low amount of calcium oxalate crystals in the flowers, stems, and roots.

Hibiscus poisoning in cats is curable, but diagnosis is crucial to upkeep your pets. So, let’s learn to carefully keep your cats from Hibiscus and secure their nine lives.

Is Hibiscus Toxic to Cats?

Hibiscus is native to Tropical Asia and is widely used for traditional medicinal purposes.

However, this is not enough to describe the safe nature of the plant.

Each part of the plant contains mild amounts of insoluble calcium oxalate harmful to humans and pets.

Image represents a Hibiscus plant
Flowers, leaves, and stems of Hibiscus have small amount of calcium oxalate that can prove mildly toxic for cats.

In moderate quantities, the plant is non-toxic for humans.

However, even the slightest amount of calcium oxalate mineral found in Hibiscus can lead to poisoning in pets, but the symptoms are usually mild.

Although ASPCA declares Hibiscus as non-toxic to animals, Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis, Hibiscus Syriacus “Rose of Sharon” and Hibiscus Acetosella “Panama Red” are toxic to cats.

What Causes Hibiscus Poisoning?

The leaves and flowers of Hibiscus harbor insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which are known to be harmful to pets and humans.

These parts of the plant also contain ‘Asparagine’ which induces stomach issues and dermal blisters, depending on the type of contact in pets.

Although the level of toxicity of the plant is yet to be researched in cats, it’s always better to keep them away from the plant or its parts.  

As the plant contains only a tiny amount of toxic minerals, the toxicity in cats is low to mild.

Symptoms of Hibiscus Poisoning

All parts of the Hibiscus plant, including leaves, flowers, or stems, are fairly toxic to cats.

So, depending on the amount of intake, the Hibiscus poisoning symptoms will occur within a few minutes or even hours.

If your cat nibbles or ingests on any of these parts, it will shortly develop following mild poisoning symptoms.

  • Appetite loss
  • Swelling and irritation of lips, throat, mouth, and tongue
  • Swelling and irritation of the throat
  • Gagging and choking
  • Difficulties in swallowing and breathing
  • Hoarse meows

Additionally, the following signs indicate severe poisoning.

  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Wobbly walk
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Excessive drooling

Symptoms of Non-Toxic Hibiscus Plants

Not all Hibiscus plants are toxic, so consuming them will not pose any threats, but it doesn’t mean they are digestible.

Parts of Hibiscus plants are indigestible to small animals like cats.

Therefore, consuming non-toxic Hibiscus plants in large amounts may cause other problems like stomach upset, nausea, gagging and vomiting.

Diagnosing Hibiscus Poisoning in Cats

Diagnosing Hibiscus poisoning in cats would include identifying the early symptoms.

Most of it may correlate to other common problems in cats.

Symptoms such as stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting are present in cats suffering from food poisoning or parasitic infection.

Therefore, you must rule out other possibilities before concluding Hibiscus poisoning.

DIY Diagnosis of Hibiscus Poisoning

To confirm Hibiscus poisoning, check for the following signs.

  • Plant residues such as brightly colored flowers and green leaves inside or around the cat’s mouth.
  • Broken leaves and stems lie on the floor around the plant.
  • Visible signs of bite or claw marks on flowers and leaves.

Treating Hibiscus Poisoning in Cats

Many symptoms of Hibiscus poisoning will subside after 48 hours without treatment.

However, you must provide an immediate cure if your cat’s health deteriorates.

Start with administering first aid treatment to stabilize your cat.

Image represents feeding milk to cats
Milk contains calcium that helps bind with the oxalate crystals in the Hibiscus parts.

1. First Aid Treatment

Immediate first aid treatment helps treat Hibiscus poisoning in most cats.

  • Remove your cat from close to the plant and lay it on a well-ventilated area.
  • Pick out plant residue from their mouth and wash it with clean water to remove any residue.
  • Induce vomiting by administering hydrogen peroxide (1 teaspoon per 5 pounds body weight) using an oral dropper.
  • Providing 1/20 teaspoon of activated charcoal can help detoxify the stomach.
  • For a burning sensation in the mouth, skin or eyes, provide yogurt or lactose-free milk to help soothe it.
  • You can also wash the mouth and claws with a soapy water solution to relieve the irritation.

While offering treatment, you can use a pet medical kit for assistance. 

Check the following video to offer the correct care for a poisoned cat.

2. Veterinary Treatment

Veterinary treatment is rarely necessary for Hibiscus poisoning as the symptoms are low to mild, but it is crucial for saving your cat.

Your veterinarian will remove the plant residue from the mouth, thoroughly cleanse it with water, and provide treatment depending on the severity.

So, it’s reasonable to contact an emergency helpline immediately after your cat shows signs of poisoning to avoid worse consequences.

Offer supportive care to your cats with intravenous saline when they lose a lot of fluid from dehydration and vomiting.

How to Prevent Hibiscus Poisoning in Cats?

Keeping cats away from houseplants can be pretty challenging.

However, some proven tips will prevent your cat from accidentally ingesting Hibiscus plants.

  • Use sprays like bitter deterrents to irritate cats when they come close to the plant.
  • Cats love indulging in cat grass that will keep them away from other green plants.
  • Spraying vinegar, lemon juice or neem oil on the plant leaves will repel cats.
Image illustrates the ways to keep cats out of the reach of houseplants
The best ways to prevent contact between cats and Hibiscus are coning the pet, using carpet protectors, or keeping the plant away on a high shelf.
  • Growing the plant in a high planter or on a tall shelf will keep it away from your cat’s reach.
  • Lay a plastic carpet protector around the vicinity of the plant that proves annoying to cats whenever they step on it.
  • You can also cone your pet to prevent them from biting the plant parts.

FAQs About Hibiscus Poisoning in Cats

How Long will it Take to Show Symptoms of Hibiscus Poisoning in Cats?

It may take a few hours to 3-4 days for the Hibiscus poisoning symptoms to become visible in cats.

Can you Use Muscle Relaxants for Cats during Hibiscus Poisoning?

Sometimes, the symptoms of poisoning can include shivering and muscle spasms.

You can relieve this by applying muscle relaxants with the guidance of a vet.

From Editorial Team

Avoid Vomiting As Far As Possible!
Vomiting the plant parts loaded with calcium oxalate crystals can swell the food pipe, mouth, lips and tongue of your cat even more. But, offering activated charcoal will induce vomiting without any side effects.

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