My cat is a chronic plant chewer. While I try to keep her away from the plants, she continues to “stalk them” and chew on their leaves. Therefore, I keep the number of plants in my apartment to a minimum. This spring my cousin sent me an Easter Lily and card for my birthday. Inside of the card was a small note saying, “Don’t let your cat eat this plant!” I took the plant to work so it wouldn’t be in my apartment. But my cat goes outside where I have calla lilies planted. Are these poisonous too?
Your cousin was correct about Easter Lilies being poisonous to cats. For some cats even a few bites of the leaves can be sufficient to produce kidney damage or even failure. Typically cats vomit a few hours after eating the lily, become depressed, stop eating, and show no interest in their surroundings.
Other signs associated with kidney damage occur within one to three days. Fortunately, if a cat receives prompt veterinary care (within 12-18 hours of ingesting the plant) they have a good chance of recovering. The prognosis for recovery without treatment, however, is guarded.
Please note that only true lily plants (Easter lily, Tiger Lilies, Japanese Lilies, and other members of the Lilium species of plant) and some Day Lilies are poisonous to the cat’s kidneys. Many “lily” plants are not true lilies. Calla Lilies are not true lilies and are not poisonous to the kidney, but can cause mouth irritation if the cat chews on them due to microscopic sharp crystals in the plant. If ingested, Lily of the Valley ( Convallaria species) does not result in damage to the kidney but can have a toxic effect on the heart. When in doubt, identify the plant and contact your veterinarian or animal poison control center with any questions.