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The Danger Zone

The Secret Language of Cats

No Lilies For Cats

Have cats? Give lilies a hard pass—exposure could be deadly

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Featured Photo Sergeeva Leka/bigstock.com

The entire lily plant is toxic to cats: the stem, leaves, flowers, pollen, and even the water in a vase. Eating just a small amount of a leaf or flower petal, licking a few pollen grains off the fur while grooming, or drinking the water from the vase can cause your cat to develop fatal kidney failure in less than three days, notes the FDA. 

Signs of Lily Toxicity 

Early signs of lily toxicity in cats include decreased activity level, drooling, vomiting, and loss of appetite. These symptoms start zero to 12 hours after ingestion. Signs of kidney damage start about 12 to 24 hours after ingestion and include increased urination and dehydration.

What Should I Do If My Cat Ate a Lily?

Lilies cause acute renal failure in cats. If you suspect your cat ate or was exposed to a lily, the best thing to do is immediately take your cat to the vet. If you remember to do so, take a photo of the flower in question or bring it with you in a sealed Ziploc bag.  Any pollen on your cat’s fur should be immediately washed off with lots of water to prevent your cat from grooming and ingesting the pollen.

“All parts of the lily (the flowers, pollen, leaves, and stems) are extremely toxic to cats, even in very small quantities. Even minor exposures, such as a cat chewing on a leaf or getting pollen on the coat or whiskers, can prove fatal.”

At the vet, your cat will be given an oral liquid that binds to the toxins and moves them out of the body through the GI tract. Fluid therapy will likely also be initiated. Cats who are treated within 18 hours of exposure to a toxic lily generally recover. However, in cases where treatment is delayed, the prognosis is generally poor and most cats are euthanized, notes the resource website noliliesforcats.com.

If you have cats, make sure there are no lilies in your home (like in flower arrangements) or yard, if you have outdoor cats in your area. Exposure could prove fatal to your cat. 

Why Lillies Are Bad For Cats?Photo: Old Man Stocker/bigstock.com

Which Lilies Are Poisonous to Cats?

The list of poisonous lilies includes Easter lilies, day lilies, tiger lilies, and stargazer lilies. (Other plants with ‘lily’ in the name, such as peace lily, which is not a true lily, does not cause the acute renal failure associated with members of the Lilium and Hermerocallis genera, though peace lilies are mildly toxic to cats in their own right.)

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