16 February 2012
As the weather improves and Easter arrives, lilies become a
common sight in households across the country, in bouquets and potted
plants. But did you know that certain lilies are very toxic for cats?
Unfortunately, several types of lilies have been found to be
deadly to cats, including Easter lily, tiger lily, rubrum lily, Japanese
show lily, some species of day lily, and certain other members of the
Liliaceae family. Ingesting just one leaf can result in severe
poisoning, and within a very short time your cat will exhibit signs of
All parts of the lily plant are considered toxic to cats, and consuming
even small amounts can cause severe poisoning. Kittens are particularly
prone to being poisoned as they explore their environment, and older
cats are often affected simply because they brush against the flower and
get pollen on their coats. Later they groom the pollen off, and of
course ingest the lily pollen as they clean their fur.
Symptoms and Treatment
The primary toxic effects are on the kidneys. Within minutes to hours of
ingesting part of the lily plant, your cat may vomit, become lethargic,
or develop a lack of appetite. As the toxin begins to affect the
kidneys, these signs continue and worsen as the kidney damage
progresses. Without prompt and proper treatment by a veterinarian, the
cat may develop kidney failure in approximately 36-72 hours.
If you see a cat eating lilies, contact a veterinarian immediately. If
emergency treatment is begun within 6 hours of consumption, the chances
are good that the cat will recover. This generally consists of emptying
the gastrointestinal tract of the affected cat and intravenous fluid
therapy in a hospital setting. If more than 18 hours has elapsed, and
the kidneys have been severely affected, your cat may not survive, even
with emergency care.
The treatment generally consists of hospitalization and intravenous
fluids. Your vet may also give your cat medication to control nausea and
vomiting. Home care will not result in full recovery.
Unfortunately the only way to prevent your cat from eating lilies, and
to ensure they're don't suffer any of these effects is simply not to
have lily plants in your home.