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Lilies or a Lily can kill your cat within hours!

Updated on August 8, 2012
Stargazer Lily
Stargazer Lily

Easter Lilies

Rubrum Lilies

Tiger Lilies

Stargazer Lilies

Japanese Show Lilies

Asiatic Lilies

Day 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.

Peace Lilies

Calla Lilies

Lily of the Valley


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    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      16 months ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      That is so sad Ruth, what a terrible tragedy.

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 

      16 months ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      This is such an important thing to know. I had a friend whose husband accidentally ran over their dog on a Friday. She brought home some easter lilies the next day and her cat died two days later.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      So sorry to hear your sad tale Veronica. I totally agree that lilies should come with warnings on them, plus professional florists should ask people ordering flowers if the recipient has cats so that they can avoid including lilies in the arrangements they deliver.

    • profile image 

      6 years ago

      My 2 year old cat Odie died in my arms April 10 from just smelling an Easter Lily. My daughter gave me the plant for Easter, she is just 20 years old. We tried very hard to save him but his kidneys totally shut down with in 36 hours. I feel there should be warnings on the plants, a sticker something warning people. I am very sorry to hear Linda's story and the others, it is such a loss. I miss my little guy he was black and beautiful like a black panther. They told me if i had 4 thousand i could give him a kidney transplant there is a lot of black cats there. I guess black cats are not wanted and are put down quite a bit. We are rescueing a black cat that has no home from kittenaid. I don't know where to start but I am mad that the plants don't have warnings. For Odie and all the other kitty's, what more can we do? Thank you for hearing me.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Yes I did know that Nancy, I am actually a very keen gardener. You might enjoy my other hub of the A-Z of houseplants poisonous to your cats, because although most of them are houseplants, some are also grown outdoors on occasion. Thanks for commenting here :)

    • profile image

      Nancy Henley 

      7 years ago

      Did you know that Lupins are very poisonous to a human as well

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      I am sorry this has happened Linda, it is a shame you didn't know the dangers beforehand. I hope you will now spread the word to many more cat owners and this info might save some more lives at least. Again I am really sorry, losing a pet is so painful anyway, but it is somehow worse when something like this causes the death.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Be aware. My 18 lb. perfectly healthy big boy - 3 years old - passed away Friday evening - and I had star gazer lilies in the house, though nowhere near where he could have gotten at them. I could have been just the pollen falling and getting onto him, and him grooming. He was perfect that morning. Pass the word, in the name of Benny Black. My Benny is gone now, and I learned an extremely valuable lesson. Of course, he could have passed away from a number of underlying issues - he had been a stray and was only with me for a year and a half, but it is TOO coincidental that I happened to have those lilies in the vase, and the vet asked ME if I had lilies in the house. So sad.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      I am so sorry to hear this JoJo, it is always tragic to lose a pet in this kind of way. I am glad you have got rid of the plants though, and the wheatgrass is a good idea.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My dear cat has just died because i think she nibbled on my Peace Lily. We had just come back from holiday and didn't know what was the problem. She had been inside for 2 weeks and even though we rushed her to the vets, she didn't survive. I have niw cleared my houseplants out and got some wheatgrass for my other cat.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks Sharon, good advice there. Yes, you would hope they would choose the wheatgrass over the dangerous plants, at least in most cases.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      A good idea for housebound cat owners to do is to keep a small plants of catnip or wheatgrass in the house so that the cat has something green to nibble on. I try to make sure I always have some safe greens around for my cat. I also have lots of plants inside and out and I am going to do a little "plant-cleaning" of the more dangerous ones even though I do offer her other options. Wouldn't you think that a cat would choose the wheatgrass if given a choice over the dangerous plants?

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      9 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Cheers Paradise, very important information, so I hope your Sister acts on it :)

    • Paradise7 profile image


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for this hub, Misty. I DIN'T KNOW THAT! I must remember to tell my sister--she just got White Lily bulbs and is also working on getting the landlady to let her keep a cat! Thanks again for the interesting and informative hubs, and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      9 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Hi H P, There are also many other plants and flowers dangerous to cats which I may attempt to cover in a separate hub/hubs.

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Hi Jen, glad your friend knew about them, and now you do too you can tell other people and so keep this important information circulating. Thanks for commenting :)

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      9 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks for commenting Hello Hello, it is an important message to get out there as it is such an avoidable way to lose your pet.

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 

      9 years ago from Delaware

      I had no idea. Just gave lillies to a friend, who knew? Great hub! Thanks for the info.

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 

      9 years ago from Guwahati, India

      It is astonishing to know that flower plant can kill cat. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your information which I am sure almost nobody knows and yet everybody love lilies.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      9 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Hi Camlo, thanks for commenting. It is definitely well worth looking out for what plants or flowers you bring in to your home as you might be surprised at some of the ones which are dangerous to your cat.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      9 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      You are more than welcome Tatjana, it came as a shock to me too when I first ever found out about it.

    • camlo profile image

      Camlo De Ville 

      9 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Hi! An interesting and informative Hub. I have a cat. Because she never goes outside (I live in a flat in the middle of a busy city), I never really worried about such things. Nevertheless, I should be thinking of things that are brought inside -- like lilies and other, possibly dangerous, plants. Thanks for enlightening me! All the best, Camlo

    • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image


      9 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

      Wow, I did not know that. Thanks for sharing... in my name and in name of my cats.


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