Although lilies in the house and garden are beautiful to look at, they can be very dangerous if eaten by your feline friend. All parts of the lily plant are dangerous to cats, including the stem, leaves, flowers, pollen and even the water from the vase. Eating even small amounts of the plant or pollen can lead to serious illness. Lilies can rapidly cause kidney failure in cats which can be fatal within a few days, so if you suspect your cat has ingested any part of a lily, please seek veterinary advice immediately.
The Vet on the Net team is here to answer any questions you have regarding lily toxicity in cats, however we would advise you call your normal vet practice or local emergency veterinary service as soon as possible as this toxicity requires urgent hands-on veterinary treatment.
Which lilies are harmful to cats?
Plants within the ‘True lily’ family are the most dangerous to your cat, which includes plants such as the Asiatic lily, Easter lily, Japanese show lily, Oriental lily, Rubrum lily, Stargazer lily, Tiger lily and Wood lily. Ingesting the Day lily (Hemerocalllis sp.) can also result in kidney failure in cats.
Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is toxic to cats but causes heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat rather than kidney failure.
What are the signs of lily toxicity in cats?
Loss of appetite
Clinical signs can develop within 2 – 6 hours of a cat ingesting part of a lily plant. Kidney failure develops within 24 – 72 hours.
What should I do if I think my cat has ingested lilies?
Call your vet or local vet emergency service immediately; the sooner your cat receives treatment, the better chance they have of survival. If there is pollen on your cats’ fur, you can try to wash off as much pollen as possible before heading to the vet. If you have a buster collar for your cat at home then, by putting the collar on, you can stop your cat from licking more pollen off their coat as you travel to the vets.
What will the vet do to treat my cat?
Your vet will continue the process of removing any lily pollen from your cats’ fur.
Your vet may give your cat an injection to try to make them vomit, to bring up the parts of the lily ingested.
Activated charcoal is commonly given to help to absorb any toxins from the lily that remain in the gut.
Your vet will start your cat on intravenous fluids to help to protect the kidneys against damage from the lilies. Cats are often hospitalised for 1 – 2 days of fluid therapy following exposure to lilies.
Your vet will monitor your cat’s kidney function using blood tests. Sometimes additional tests, such as urine tests, are also recommended.
What is the prognosis?
Cats have the best chance of recovery if they are taken to the vet as soon as possible after ingesting the lily. If lily toxicity is treated promptly, then many cats can fully recover with no long-term side-effects. Once the kidneys start to become damaged by the lilies, the prognosis is guarded.
How can I prevent lily toxicity in my cat?
To reduce the risk of your cat ingesting lilies, it is advised that you do not have any lilies in your home or garden. Removing the stamens from lilies can reduce the risk of exposure to pollen but as all parts of the plant are toxic, the general recommendation is to not have lilies in the home or garden if you have cats.
Dr Louise Abuzet BVM&S CertAVP(ECC) CertAVP (ZooMed) BSc(HONS) MRCVSRCVS Advanced Practitioner in Emergency and Critical Care
25th November 2020