Lilies can be fatal in your cat
Beautiful flower, right? But did you know this pretty and seemingly harmless plant could actually kill your feline companions with a single nibble? It’s true! Certain types of lilies are among the most dangerous types of flowers for felines, and far too people are aware of this until it may be too late. With Spring slowly starting to make its reappearance and stores full of flowers waiting to make their way into your home, we need to take a moment to discuss this potentially deadly toxicity.
The types of lilies that you need to worry about include:
- Japanese Show
- Any other members of the genus Lilum (“true lilies”)
The toxic compound in lilies is extremely destructive to a cat’s kidneys. It only takes a nibble on a single leaf or stem, drinking the vase water, or ingesting a small amount of pollen from these flowers (as with grooming) to send your cat into acute (sudden and often irreversible) kidney failure and have you rushing them to the nearest emergency room.
The prognosis for acute kidney failure from lily ingestion may be good as long as it is caught early so that aggressive treatment can be started. However, if too much time elapses between ingestion and the start of treatment, the prognosis becomes significantly worse and death from disease or euthanasia is much more likely. Without treatment, acute kidney failure is fatal.
Treatment for lily-induced acute kidney failure involves aggressive IV fluid diuresis, injectable medications, nutritional support, and very close monitoring. If these fail, advanced procedures could be attempted, such as different types of dialysis, however these are quite expensive and are not readily available even at most specialty veterinary hospitals.
Hopefully it is clear based on all of this information that the best thing you can do is to PREVENT their exposure to lilies. Here are some suggestions for doing this.
- If you have cats in your household, do not have lilies! There is no such thing as “out of reach” for most cats, and even a fallen dead leaf or airborne pollen could be enough to cause toxicity.
- Keep your cats indoors as many people have lilies in their garden.
- If you are buying or sending a bouquet to friends or family members with cats, ensure there are no lilies present.
- Share the knowledge of lily toxicity with family, friends, and florists to try to prevent feline exposure. From personal experience, it crucial to share knowledge of toxins with those who may inadvertently bring these plants into the house without realizing the danger. I suggest making a list of toxins for whatever types of animals you have in your home and placing it somewhere important such as on the refrigerator so everyone is aware. You can ask your veterinarian to help with the making of such a list.
Hopefully this entry has helped provide some information to you regarding a dangerous toxicity we see far too often. Happy Spring!
Dr. Jenna Koenigstein