Lemongrass is a common ingredient in a variety of meals. You can use it in marinades, stir-fries, spice rubs, salads, and pastes. However, if you’re using lemongrass in a meal, you should not share it with your feline, as it can be mildly toxic. It depends mostly on how much is eaten, as well as the size of your feline.
Cats love many types of grass, and many tend to overeat them. In most cases, cats can moderate how much of a particular food they eat. However, this may not be easy to do with grass. This may cause your feline to over-eat, which can cause mild symptoms.
Lemongrass is considered toxic to cats, but only in massive quantities. It is nearly impossible for any cat to eat enough to get seriously ill. Most cases are incredibly mild and clear up on their own.
Why Is Lemongrass Toxic?
There are three different types of lemongrass. Only one type of lemongrass is used for cooking and eating. The second kind is often referred to as citronella and is used to repel insects. The third and final kind is referred to as citronella grass and is used for aesthetic purposes only. It has a nice maroon color.
All of these forms of lemongrass can be mildly toxic to cats—not just the kind you cook with. All of them contain citronella oil, which is the plant that causes the toxic reaction. Usually, it requires quite a bit to upset a feline’s stomach, though some will be more sensitive than others. Kittens and smaller cats are particularly vulnerable, as they are generally smaller.
In its raw form, a feline will be able to nibble on lemongrass in moderation. However, the oil in lemongrass is toxic, so moderation is key. The essential oil of lemongrass is toxic in its processed form.
What Are the Signs of Lemongrass Poisoning?
Lemongrass poisoning usually only has minor signs. Your cat will first get a mildly upset stomach and abdominal pain. Some may react worse to lemongrass than others. A swollen abdomen is also possible.
Fever can set in if the cat eats an exceptionally high amount of lemongrass. Shock and vomiting can occur in more severe cases.
If a cat eats a considerable amount of lemongrass, they may develop weakness in their back legs and cannot control their bladder. They may be unable to eliminate their body wastes. At this point, veterinary care is required.
Concentrated forms of lemongrass, like the essential oil, are even more harmful. These can cause significant issues if your feline ingests them.
How Do Vets Diagnose Lemongrass Poisoning?
Typically, the easiest way to diagnose lemongrass poisoning is to actually catch your cat eating the grass. Alternatively, your vet may be able to run a variety of tests to detect the toxin in your feline’s blood. This can include a blood count, urinalysis, blood work, and biochemistry profile.
If your cat eats a lot of lemongrass, it may put them at risk for intestinal blockage. For this reason, your vet may decide to order an ultrasound to ensure that their digestive tract is clear. This may include a barium study, which makes the blockage easier to see.
Pesticide toxicity is also possible when a cat overeats grass. For this reason, your vet may also test for pesticides.
How Is Lemongrass Poisoning Treated?
Lemongrass poisoning treatment usually involves IV fluids if your feline gets dehydrated, which can occur with vomiting. Your cat’s waste will need to be expressed by the vet to ensure that their bladder doesn’t bust.
If a blockage occurs, the vet will need to flush out the leaves in the intestinal system. Sometimes, surgery may be required to remove the mass.
If the essential oil causes the poisoning, some further steps may need to be taken. Your cat’s liver function will need careful watching, as the essential oil can severely handicap your feline’s liver function. Simultaneously, the vet may decide to flush your cat’s stomach and use activated charcoal to absorb any toxin left in your cat’s body.
Do Cats With Lemongrass Poisoning Recover?
Typically, these cats recover if they are treated promptly. The plant is only mildly toxic and usually doesn’t cause huge problems. The essential oil is more concentrated, so symptoms are usually more severe. However, this condition is treatable.
If your cat nibbles enough lemongrass to get poisoned once, they may very well do it again. For this reason, we recommend removing lemongrass from your home and getting cat-safe grass instead.
Cats with serious lemongrass cravings may have an underlying medical problem, like nutritional deficiencies. Your vet may decide to examine your feline further to ensure that there isn’t an underlying cause for their mass consumption of lemongrass.
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Lemongrass is only mildly toxic, but you should still avoid feeding it to your feline. If you have a live plant, most cats will not consume enough to cause any problems. However, you should keep an eye on them just in case. Some underlying conditions can cause cats to overeat certain foods, including lemongrass. Pica can also cause strange cravings, which may result in poisoning. If you’re worried this may be the case, take your cat to the vet for a closer look.
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