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Unexpected Pet Poisons: Lily Poisoning in Cats

lily poisoning in cats

Lily poisoning in cats.

Many people are surprised to learn that lilies, some of the most beautiful and common household flowers used in celebrations of life and love, are very toxic for cats. It’s estimated that there are 10 to 11 million plants produced annually in the United States.  Eating any plant in the lily family is dangerous for cats, but ingesting Lilium and Hemerocallis genera lilies is can lead to death; simply eating a few petals can cause renal failure or heart problems in cats. People tend to give lilies as gifts during Spring and Easter. It’s important to educate yourself and fellow animal lovers about the dangers that these elegant, popular flowers present to our feline and canine friends.

What Kind of Lilies are Toxic to Cats?

All lilies are poisonous to cats in varying degrees. However, the Lilium (lily) and Hemerocallis (day lily) genera are the most dangerous to cats, causing nephrotoxicity (the toxic substances affect the kidneys, which can lead to severe, acute kidney failure). Flowers of the genus Convallaria, which are the pretty Lily of the Valley, are also extremely poisonous and affect the hearts of both dogs and cats, causing heart-threatening arrythmias and possibly death in both species.
Please note the whole plant is dangerous: the stem, leaves, flowers, and pollen. Even drinking water with pollen in it has been found to be toxic.

Symptoms of Lily Poisoning:

  • salivation
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • anorexia (lack of appetite)
  • deyhydration
  • depression
If you have lilies in your home or your neighborhood and your cat displays these symptoms, please take him/her to your veterinarian immediately.

Treating Lily Poisoning in Cats:

Knowing that your cat has ingested any part of the lily is extremely important in helping your veterinarian diagnose and treat lily poisoning. If you notice symptoms, your first step is to take your pet to your veterinarian right away with a sample of the plant or any other suspected poison.
Your veterinarian may induce vomiting and give binders like activated charcoal, flush the stomach, use intravenous fluid therapy to prevent renal failure, run tests, and might even need to use dialysis if there has already been organ damage. As with all cases of poisoning, your pet’s chances of survival are highest when given care immediately. The cost of not identifying these symptoms and taking your cat to the vet in a timely manner is, sadly, death.
Actions for Survival with Lily Poisoning in Cats:
  1. Own a cat or dog? Keep lilies out of your home. Cats climb all over and can reach even out-of-the way vases with a little determination.
  2. Keep an eye out for lilies while on walks or if you have outdoor cats
  3. Keep the Pet Poison Helpline on hand for emergencies: 855.764.7661 (there is a cost, but they are available 24/7)
  4. Make sure your pet care professional is trained in Pet CPR & First Aid (part of the Equipaws training for our employees!)
  5. Share this post!

Photo of a Lily of the Valley. Other lilies are pictured in the photo above.

lily of the valley


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