Lilies or a Lily can kill your cat within hours!
Japanese Show Lilies
It probably will come as a surprise to many cat owners that something as beautiful as a lily could potentially kill their beloved pet cat within hours. I found this fact out when I was working for a local veterinary surgery and witnessed at least two cats being admitted for kidney failure based on their having ingested parts of Lilies or Lily pollen within the previous few hours. This can effect cats or kittens of any age, so I urge you to be very aware of what plants or flowers your cat is being exposed to both inside and outside of the home environment.
The peace and calla lily also cause kidney disease but through a different mechanism and the lily-of-the-valley is also dangerous but is different again as it causes heart disease.
What you should know.
Many lily species are poisonous to cats including the Easter Lily (Lilium Longiflorum), the Tiger Lily (Lilium Tigrinum), the Rubrum Lily (Lilium Speciosum), the Stargazer Lily (Lilium Orientalis), the Japanese Show Lily (Lilium Lancifolium), Asiatic Lilies and species of the Day Lily (Hemerocalis), but be careful with all types of lily.
All parts of the Lily including flowers, stamens, leaves, root and stems are poisonous to cats. Equally worrying is that many of these lilies are routinely included in bouquets of flowers that you may buy or be given on special occasions.
Only small amounts are required to cause renal failure in cats, although the exact toxic does is not known.
Bear in mind that brushing past the flower and then grooming the pollen from the fur can also have the same effect.
Ingestion of just 2 lily leaves can be fatal
Most at risk are house cats due to their limited access to vegetation. Naturally they will be curious and investigate such flowers brought into the home.
How will I know if my cat has been affected?
Your pet will most likely show signs of vomiting, a lack of interest in food and generally lethargic behaviour.
If your cat appears to improve after 12 hours or so do not assume they are safe, as this can happen briefly before they progress on to advanced renal (kidney) failure with 24 - 72 hours.
An affected cat will either show signs of frequent urination or complete cessation of urine, excessive thirst and a lack of interest in activity.
What should I do if I suspect my cat has ingested Lilies?
The sooner you can get you cat to a vet the better, and make sure to tell your vet that the cat has possibly had access to, and ingested Lilies. Your vet may well want to make your cat vomit and it is crucial your cat is put on fluids in the form of a drip as soon as possible, and even if the vet does save your pet, there is a strong possibility the cat will be left with a certain amount of kidney damage as a result of the poisoning.
Cats not treated within 18 hours are most unlikely to recover.
How can I avoid this happening to my cat?
Tell your friends not to buy you flowers unless they specifically request that the florist does not include Lilies in the bouquet or basket. Explain why this is and how important it is they get this message across to the florist, (this is important because even after requesting lilies to be excluded, I have seen bouquets arrive which had them in regardless).
If in doubt keep any flowers away from an area your cat can get to.
Don't plant Lilies in your gardens.
Warn other cat owners so that they too ensure their pets are not put at risk.
Footnote: There are many other plants also toxic to cats, so it is always worth checking before you buy any plant or flowers as to if it may pose a health risk to your pet.
Lily of the Valley
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