Lily Ingestion Toxicity in Cats
Spring signifies renewal. New green growth and blooming flowers mark a new beginning. Many people will celebrate during this time by adorning their households with flowers and plants. However, cat owners need to beware that some of the most common plants are highly toxic to their beloved feline companions.
Easter lilies and other species of the genus Lilium (Tiger lily, rubrum lily, Japanese show lily, and Asiatic hybrid lily), are highly toxic to cats leading to kidney damage. All parts of the plant are considered toxic, and intoxication can occur with ingestion of less than one leaf. To date, the toxic component has not been determined.
Within the first two to six hours of lily ingestion, a cat may manifest intestinal upset including vomiting, loss of appetite, and depression.
Signs may temporarily subside only to return within twelve to eighteen hours as kidney damage ensues.
Treatment consists of rapid decontamination (inducing vomiting to remove plant material and administration of activated charcoal), and intravenous fluid.
Postponing treatment for more than eighteen hours can result in renal failure, and death; therefore, prompt and aggressive veterinary care is paramount. With prompt treatment, full recovery is possible. However, if treatment is delayed, varying degrees of permanent kidney damage will occur. If the cat is not treated at all, death usually occurs in three to seven days.
Cats can be extremely inquisitive, and may graze on plants in and around a house. Therefore, cat owners are encouraged to avoid placing lilies where cats reside, whether indoor or outdoor.
During Easter celebration and for that matter year around, substituting Easter lilies and other kidney toxic plants with plants such as Easter Orchids, Easter Lily Cactus, Easter Daisy or violets is recommended.
Lilies known to cause kidney failure in cats include*:
Common names Scientific names
Easter lily Lilium longiflorum
Tiger lily Lilium tigrinum
Rubrum lily Lilium speciosum
Japanese show lily Lilium lancifolium
Daylily Hemerocallis species