Sago Palm Poisoning in Cats

Oct 01, 2012
2 min read
Image: Photo Grapher / via Image Bank

Sage Palm Toxicity

Cats often chew on plants and will sometimes swallow pieces of the plant as well. Sometimes they unwittingly chew on plants that have toxic properties to them. Sago palms are one of these plants. The leaves from the sago palm can cause severe damage to the liver, the damage of which can potentially lead to death when the plant has been ingested by a cat.

The sago palm is also known colloquially as coontie palms, cardboard palms, cycads, or zymias.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms seen with ingestion of sago palms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Blood in feces
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Icterus (yellow coloration of skin and gums)
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urine
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding easily (coagulopathy, DIC)
  • Neurological signs such as depression, circling, paralysis, seizures, coma
  • Death

Causes

The symptoms seen are the result of liver damage caused by a toxin called cycasin, which is found in the sago palm. Liver disease may lead to bleeding deficits (disseminated intravascular coagulation - DIC), that is, abnormal bleeding and clots in the bloodstream, and neurological abnormalities.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is based on a history of ingestion of the plant and on blood and urine test results supportive of liver disease.

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