CATS AND LILIES

KNOW THE DANGER

It probably will come as a surprise to many cat owners that something as beautiful as a lily could potentially kill their beloved pet cat within hours.

As spring approaches, lilies will become more common in households as potted plants or in bouquets.  Unfortunately, several types of lilies can be deadly to cats.

Easter lily, tiger lily, rubrum lily, Japanese show lily, some species of day lily, and certain other members of the Liliaceae family can cause kidney failure in cats. (So far, toxicity has not been reported in dogs.)

Eating just one leaf of this toxic plant can result in severe poisoning and within a short time your cat will exhibit signs of toxicity.  Minutes to hours after ingestion, your cat may stop eating and begin vomiting.  As the toxins begin to affect the kidneys, your pet may become lethargic, and within five days, kidney failure will cause death.

If you suspect your cat has eaten part of a lily plant, it is important that you contact your veterinarian immediately.  If treatment is started early, chances for recovery are good, but once the kidneys have been severely affected, your cat may not survive.
Obviously, the best prevention of lily toxicity is to keep the plants away from your kitty.

If you bring Easter lilies into the house, keep them in a separate room where your nibbling cat cannot enter.  To help educate cat owners about the dangers of lilies, and other plants, the CFA and the ASPCA have developed website information for cat owners.  Among the site’s materials are common types of poisonous plants and a list of non-toxic plants.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

All parts of the Lily including flowers, stamens, leaves, root and stems are poisonous to cats.  Equally worrying is that many of these lilies are routinely included in bouquets of flowers that you may buy or be given on special occasions.

Only small amounts are required to cause renal failure in cats, although the exact toxic does is not known.
Bear in mind that brushing past the flower and then grooming the pollen from the fur can also have the same effect.

HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY CAT HAS BEEN AFFECTED:

Your pet will most likely show signs of vomiting, a lack of interest in food and generally lethargic behaviour.
If your cat appears to improve after 12 hours or so do not assume they are safe, as this can happen briefly before they progress on to advanced renal (kidney) failure with 24 – 72 hours.  An affected cat will either show signs of frequent urination or complete cessation of urine, excessive thirst and a lack of interest in activity.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT MY CAT HAS INGESTED LILIES?

The sooner you can get you cat to a vet the better, and make sure to tell your vet that the cat has possibly had access to, and ingested Lilies.  Your vet may well want to make your cat vomit and it is crucial your cat is put on fluids in the form of a drip as soon as possible, and even if the vet does save your pet, their is a strong possibility the cat will be left with a certain amount of kidney damage as a result of the poisoning.
Cats not treated within 18 hours are most unlikely to recover.

HOW CAN I AVOID THIS HAPPENING TO MY CAT?

Tell your friends not to buy you flowers unless they specifically request that the florist does not include lilies in the bouquet or basket. Explain why this is and how important it is they get this message across to the florist, (this is important because even after requesting lilies to be excluded, I have seen bouquets arrive which had them in regardless).

If in doubt keep any flowers away from an area your cat can get to.

Don’t plant Lilies in your gardens.

Warn other cat owners so that they too ensure their pets are not put at risk.