Lilies: they're a beautiful, fragrant flower for humans and a deadly poison for cats. While lilies are all around us, few pet parents realize that these delicate, ornamental flowers are dangerous for their feline friends.
Unfortunately, lilies can produce renal failure in cats, which is deadly if not treated promptly. In order to be better prepared to handle lily poisoning, cat parents can benefit from knowing the signs and symptoms of this dangerous complication.
Symptoms of Lily Poisoning
The symptoms of lily poisoning can be vague or pronounced, depending upon how many lilies the cat ingested. In many cases, it takes as few as two lily leaves to make a cat very sick, and if the condition goes without treatment, poisoning could prove fatal within three days.
Lily poisoning is caused by all different kinds of lily plants, including the Easter lily, daylily, tiger lily, peace lily, lily of the valley, and calla lily. If the cat has ingested a toxic plant, symptoms will often include loss of appetite, drooling, dehydration, vomiting, or stumbling. The lilies that are most toxic are those from the genus Lilium and Hemerocallis.
What to Do if Your Cat Has Symptoms
The first thing to do with a cat that has ingested dangerous lilies is to call the vet. If the cat has not vomited, the vet may instruct you to induce vomiting before bringing him into the pet hospital. If you can, it is important to bring a sample of the plant with you for identification and sampling.
Treatment of Lily Poisoning
When your cat arrives at the vet, the first thing the vet will do is attempt to identify which type of lily your cat has eaten. The vet may do this through the sample you provide or through pieces of the plant in the cat's vomit. Urine tests will then be taken to check for any impaired kidney function.
If the pet has recently ingested the lily and has not vomited, the vet will most likely induce vomiting. The vet may then give activated charcoal to absorb toxins in the gut and will probably begin IV fluid therapy to stabilize the cat's kidneys and internal mechanisms. The fluid therapy will likely go on for one to two days in conjunction with close monitoring of the cat's kidneys.
Preventing Lily Poisoning
The most effective way to avoid lily poisoning is to prevent it entirely. This means keeping lilies out of the house and ensuring that lilies in the garden or in outside landscaping situations are fenced securely so that cats cannot reach them. Keep in mind, however, that cats are very athletic and can easily jump a fence, so it is generally recommended to avoid lilies as ornamental flowers entirely. This keeps cats safe and ensures that your feline friend won't have to contend with any of the difficult and often dangerous symptoms of lily poisoning, while ensuring that you won't have to make a stressful and frightening trip to the vet.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.