Lily Toxicity in Cats by Dr. Virginia Kiefer

Happy Spring! With the coming of spring, we are seeing beautiful flowers and plants (and lots of pollen!) While these flowers and plants are bright and beautiful to behold, some can be dangerous for our furry friends. Specifically, I wanted to address Lily toxicity in cats, especially with Easter right around the corner.

Certain species of Lilies are highly toxic to cats. The species of Lilies that are known to cause toxicity in cats include the Easter Lily, Tiger Lily, Oriental Lily, Daylily, and Stargazer Lily. Ingestion of the plant can lead to kidney damage and kidney failure. All parts of the plant are considered toxic, and intoxication can occur with ingestion of less than one leaf. The toxic principle of the plant is currently unknown.

Initial symptoms (within the first 2-6 hours of ingestion) include gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, depression, loss of appetite). Symptoms may temporarily subside only to return within 12-18 hours as kidney damage develops. After 18 hours, kidney failure and death can occur.

Cats that have ingested lilies need emergency treatment, right away. Treatment consists of rapid decontamination (inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal), followed by several days of hospitalization on intravenous fluids to prevent kidney damage. With prompt and aggressive treatment, full recovery is possible; however, if treatment is delayed, varying degrees of permanent kidney damage will occur. If the cat is not treated, death usually occurs in 3-7 days.

The moral of the story- keep lilies out of reach of inquisitive kitties. (While lilies happen to be my favorite flower, due to my 3 adorable cats there will be none around my house either!)

In any case of a suspected ingestion of a potentially toxic substance by your pet, the best resource to call is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435.

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