How To Protect Your Cat From Lily Toxicity

Cats, Emergency Situations

Springtime is one of the best times of the year, but for cats, it can be one of the most dangerous. As we near the Easter holiday, we see an abundance of lilies popping up in stores, backyards, and flower arrangements. This is worrisome as lilies are one of the most severe toxins that we treat in cats.

Lilies Can Cause Liver Failure

This toxin affects the kidneys in cats, and can rapidly progress to acute, irreversible renal failure. This is a life-threatening condition that can result in death.

Every part of the lily plant are capable of passing a toxin to your cat, including the leaves, petals, pollen, and stamen. Only a trivial amount can be very toxic. A cat biting a couple of leaves or even drinking the water from the vase can be enough. There is a misconception that removing the stamens and pollen from a lily removes the toxic parts, but this is not the case.

Symptoms of Lily Toxicity

Signs of lily toxicity are non-specific in cats and include lethargy, anorexia, and vomiting. These changes can take 1-2 days to develop, and by this time significant damage to the kidneys may have occurred. This is why the sooner your cat can be brought in for treatment, the better the possible outcome.

Knowing Which Types Of Lilies To Avoid

It is important to note that there are many types of lilies, and not all of them are toxic. The toxic lily varieties are of the species Lilium or Hemerocallis and include Asiatic lilies, Easter lilies, Stargazer lilies, and Tiger lilies, among others.

Easter lilies are a species of lily that are toxic to cats.

Easter lilies are extremely toxic to cats.

Asiatic lilies are also very toxic to cats

Asiatic lilies come in many colors, all of which are very toxic to cats.

Starfire lilies are another toxic flower species that cats should avoid.

Starfire lilies are stunning, but extremely toxic to cats.

Not all lily species are toxic. Peace lilies are an example of a non-toxic variety. However, even though these non-toxic lilies don’t have kidney-damaging properties, they are still capable of causing gastrointestinal upset or irritation in your cat’s mouth.

How to Protect Your Cat From Lilies

So what can you do as a cat owner? First and foremost, unless you are a plant enthusiast and can ID plants easily, you should commit to having no lilies both in the home or outside in the yard. This includes promptly removing lilies from any flower arrangements brought into the home.

Call a Vet if Your Cat Encounters Lilies

If you see your cat licking or chewing a lily plant, you should immediately bring your cat to be seen by a veterinarian. If decontamination and appropriate treatment can be initiated before the kidneys become affected, the prognosis is generally good. This may consist of inducing vomiting (emesis), administration of charcoal, and intravenous fluids given over a period of several days.

Cat owners — as Easter approaches, beware of this common flower and the harm it could cause to your pet! Contact EMRVC if you have any questions about lily-proofing your home this Easter!

Essex Middle River Veterinary Center provides medical and surgical care for cats and dogs at our animal hospital and veterinary clinic in Essex, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. Our services include preventive wellness care exams, vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care. Our state-of-the-art veterinary offices are conveniently located near I-695 where we see pets from Towson, Honeygo, White Marsh, and other neighboring Baltimore areas.

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