Are the pesticides on house plants poisonous to cats as well as the poisonous plants themselves? It seems distinctly possible. There are hundreds of thousands of web pages on plants that are poisonous to cats. I am yet to see something on the insecticides that are on house plants that are poisonous to cats. Or is someone going to tell me that there are no insecticides on plants bought for the home?
I am writing about the insecticides that plant nurseries – the people who “manufacture” the plants – spray on them to make them look better and live longer. Isn’t it inevitable that they remain on the plant right up to sale? Perhaps sellers of plants also spray their products with insecticides. I don’t know. I do know that in commercial enterprises they will do all they can to improve and protect their product. I would doubt whether anyone has given serious concern to the affects of pesticides on plants on the domestic cat.
The types of pesticides that are used in landscape and nursery pest management are as follows¹:
- Organophosphate Insecticides
- Carbamate Insecticides
I’ll briefly set out how poisonous these chemicals are to animals and the possible effect on animals. I will them compare the symptoms with those of the cats who died by ingesting lily pollen. The purpose: to try and decide if lily pollen poisoned the cats as well as the any insecticide that there might have been on the pollen. The symptoms of the cats poisoned by lily pollen were:
- Kidney Damage
Of these three reported symptoms, kidney failure is the known symptoms of poisoning by lilies. I wonder if the other symptoms, which are connected to the nervous system are due to insecticides on the lilies?
The symptoms are similar to the other poisonous insecticide types called carbamates. For severe poisoning the symptoms are a lack of coordination with apprehension and seizures². Also a cat will have muscle twitching, weakness and stagger.
Symptoms of cabamate insecticide poisoning in cats include: drooling, cramps in the abdomen, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, anemia, small pupils, muscle spasms, convulsions².
For high doses: high fever, very low body temperature, breathing problems, bad tremors, disorientation, and seizures. Question: how high would a dose be if a cat ingested lily pollen that had been sprayed with pyrethroids? Pretty high it seems to me. This is straight eating of a poison².
Used for flea control on cats as well as a plant pesticide³. I can’t find anything useful on how they can poison cats. There is severe concern about their effect on honey bee populations4.
I can’t be precise and definitive because despite the vast reservoir of information on the internet there is nothing or very little on how these pesticides affect cats when sprayed on house plants. However, in general the listed pesticides affect the nervous system because one of the symptoms is seizures and another is tremors and spasms. These are all signs of damage to the nervous system as is paralysis and blindness, the symptoms suffered by the lily pollen poisoned cats.
It appears that it is quite possible that these cats were poisoned by pesticides on pollen that was on their fur that they ate when they groomed themselves.
- Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University
- The Merck Manual For Pet Health
- NEONICOTINOID INSECTICIDE TOXICOLOGY: Mechanisms of Selective Action
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