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gondwanalon's avatar

How much responsibility do I have for a cat poisoned by it eating my “Hawaiian Ti” plant?

Asked by gondwanalon (21031points) January 21st, 2022

I adopted a cat named “Bill” from Craigslist with the understanding that if Bill didn’t get along with my cat I could return Bill.

We have a big house so the two cats had plenty of space to sort things out. But the cats would have nothing to do with each other.
The Bill growled, hissed, meow, howled a lot and hid a lot. Bill seemed very unhappy. My cat was unhappy too. I could see after 4 days that this was a bad match so I returned Bill to the Craigslist cat owner.

I even let the Craigslist cat owner keep the $120 rehoming fee.

3 days after I returned Bill to the Craigslist cat owner, she texted me saying that Bill was sick and the veterinarian bill was $350.

Bill had obviously ate an equivalent to ½ a toxic Hawaiian Ti plant leaf that was in the large sun room where Bill was staying. I’ve had Ti plants and cats for 30 years and none of my cats ate the Ti leaves before.

I didn’t know that Ti leaves were toxic to cats. After all Hawaiians rap food in Ti leaves. So I googled the following:

“Hawaiian ti poisoning in cats is caused by the ingestion of any portion of the Hawaiian ti plant. The Hawaiian ti produces naturally occurring toxins, known as saponins, which cause the feline to develop gastrointestinal upset. Vomiting and diarrhea are the main symptoms of a Hawaiian ti poisoning in cats, but additional signs of central nervous system disruption may be present.”

So far I have paid the Craigslist cat owner $120 rehoming fee plus I paid the $350 vet bill for Bill the cat. All of Bill’s test result were normal and he should recover completely soon.

I expect that I’m going to be asked to pay more for Bill’s health care.

What do you think. Have I paid enough?

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22 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Very responsible.
Just as responsible as you would have been, if your toddler gulped down a bottle of bleach it found in an unlocked and easily accessible cabinet.

janbb's avatar

I would think that you’ve paid plenty already and maybe should make it tactfully clear that you’ve paid all that you will for Bill’s care. And props to you for being so responsible!

Smashley's avatar

350 for a basic vet check up? Did they do an ekg or something? Yeesh. I’d call the vet about pricing to see if you’re being robbed, unless you paid them directly.
Yes, you are responsible. Ignorance isn’t a great defense. If your ignorance has caused long term damages to the owner, you should be expected to make it right. If the owner does come at you with more costs, be sure to hear it from the vet too.

gondwanalon's avatar

@ragingloli I don’t think so. That’s a very different situation involving gross negligence. Everyone knows to keep chemicals out of the reach of toddlers. There were no warning messages on the Ti plants. That same plants the people rap food in.

gondwanalon's avatar

@Smashley They did an exam, blood tests and boarding the cat for a couple days. Any more money from me will require vet receipts to verify the cost.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

@Smashley You must not take pets to the vet much. Vet bills are a lot higher now and I’m of the opinion that many vet offices are actually rip off artists that put guilt trips on people to get them to pay exorbitant prices for things they may not even need. If you ever want to adopt a pet later you will need to give a vet reference and if you don’t do exactly what they want you’ll get a bad reference. It’s very important to find a trustworthy, skilled and ethical vet office. Even if you do find one you trust vet visits simply cost more now for various reasons, one being that the level of care is far superior than just a decade or two ago.

janbb's avatar

@gondwanalon That price sounds about right for that; around here would probably be more. As I said above, I think you have more than fulfilled your responsibility.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I agree you’ve paid plenty. If they disagree they can file a small claims suit. Seems to me you tried to make it right but hang on to communications and receipts just in case.

kritiper's avatar

You’ve paid enough. Shit happens, and it happens with animals. You can’t control that.

rebbel's avatar

About the time between ingestion and occurance of said symptoms…., does that seem about right? that’s at least three days
I thought that the digestion system of cats would be smaller, thus faster (than humans).
Did you get copies of the vet bills this time too (I read you would want them if new visits were needed)?

flutherother's avatar

It is not your cat anymore and you have been more than fair. I would draw a line under it.

tinyfaery's avatar

You are absolutely at fault. You already have a cat. You should know what in your home a cat can get into that could be harmful. Not only that, but did you even bother to find out how to introduce cats to each other? I know the answer is no, because there is a right way and wrong way to do it, and you did it the wrong way. You will never be able to have another cat until you learn the right way to introduce them.

Have you now taken the time to find out what in your home can harm a cat and either secure it or get rid of it so your current cat won’t be harmed?

You are using your ignorance to excuse yourself. What happened to the cat is your responsibility so deal with it. Had things worked out with the cat you would be paying the vet bills anyway.

However, once the cat has recovered there is no reason you should have to pay for subsequent treatment. If there will be long-term issues because of your mistake, well, I doubt your conscience will be that troubled by it.

zenvelo's avatar

I don’t think you owe them anything, there was no evidence that Bill ate any Ti leaves.

He was rehomed for three days before getting sick. For all you know, the other owner could have fed him expired cat food.

ragingloli's avatar

That was revealed by the vet, I assume the cat vomited out some undigested remnants of the plant.
It would be quite the coincidence that they randomly told him that it was poisoned by the plant, and he just happens to have such a plant, with neither the vet or the original owner knowing that he had that plant.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If it’s 3 days before they get sick there would be no remnants of the plant left in the stomach to throw up.

gondwanalon's avatar

@tinyfaery I agree with you in that I’m at fault. I fucked up. As stated above, I’ve already paid for professional care for Bill the cat and then some. NO ONE LOVES CATS MORE THAN ME. I feel terrible about this.
I’m not a botanist. I don’t know the chemical makeup of all the plants. I did know that people use Ti leaves to rap food in and wrongly concluded that the leaves were safe to have in our house. I’ve had Ti plants and plants and cats in our home for the last 30 years with no previous problem.

@zenvelo and @Dutchess_III I brought Bill to our home last Friday evening (1–14-22). I returned Bill on this Monday morning (1–17-22). Bill was taken to the vet on Tuesday or Wednesday. Yesterday I paid Bill’s vet bill. Bill was still being boarded at the vet hospital until yesterday evening.
I sent 2 text messages to Bill’s owner asking how Bill is doing. No response yet.

Jeruba's avatar

@tinyfaery, I would like to know how to introduce cats to each other. Would you respond if I started a thread?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Throw ‘em in a room and RUN!!

gondwanalon's avatar

@Jeruba The SPCA has a lengthy process where the cats are separated in different rooms for a few days. Expose the cats to each other’s sent. Let them snif each other under a door. Supervise and separate as needed.

Other cat experts say to just let the cats work things out between themselves but supervise just in case it gets too intense.

Jeruba's avatar

@gondwanalon, that gradual process sounds pretty much like what we did by instinct when we merged a one-cat household and a two-cat household. Is that what you did?

gondwanalon's avatar

@Jeruba I separated the two cats but they could see each other through a glass door. Also I brought Bill (the new cat) into the same room that our cat was in on 3 brief occasions in which I sat on the couch and petted Bill (where our cat could see). Both cats did some hissing but no physical aggression. I never tried to force anything as I kept then in separate rooms.

SnipSnip's avatar

Yes, you have paid enough.

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