By: Dr. Crystal Craig
Most people are aware of chocolate, onions and grapes being toxic to dogs. But did you know that Lilies are extremely toxic to cats? In fact, other members of the lily family have been found to be toxic, including the day lily and the tiger lily (although there’s no need to worry about the non-toxic calla lily, peace lily, or glory lily). Eating just one leaf of a toxic lily can result in severe poisoning, and within a short time your cat will exhibit signs of toxicity.
Easter is just around the corner and soon many homes will have a pot of Easter Lilies. If you share your home with a cat, I urge you to kick those Lilies to the curb or give them to a catless friend or neighbour. And here’s why:
Signs and Symptoms
The primary toxic effects are on the kidneys. Within minutes to hours of ingesting any part of the lily plant, your cat might stop eating and begin vomiting. As the toxin begins to affect the kidneys, the cat will become lethargic. Finally, he will experience kidney failure and death will generally occur within five days.
Once you suspect your cat has eaten any part of a lily plant, it is important that you contact your veterinarian immediately. If treatment is started early, chances are your cat will recover, but once the kidneys have been severely affected, your cat may not survive.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing lily toxicity is generally based on a history of exposure to the plant and signs of vomiting and dehydration. Your veterinarian will probably do some preliminary blood tests to determine if any kidney damage has occurred, and repeat them once treatment has been started to determine if treatment is effective.
The treatment generally consists of hospitalization and intravenous fluids. Your veterinarian may also give your cat medication to control nausea and vomiting. Home care will not result in full recovery.
Obviously, the best prevention of lily toxicity is to keep lily plants away from your cat.
Cats are curious and are attracted to anything new and interesting. Cat owners know that even putting a lily “out of reach” is asking for trouble. Lilies may pretty but not worth risking your cat’s health- please celebrate a safe “Lily Free” Easter with your feline friends!