With Easter just around the corner, this month we will focus on a common houseplant that is toxic to our cats - the Lily. A favorite of many, these gorgeous flowers are unfortunately very toxic to the kidneys of our feline friends. The Easter lily, Asiatic lily, Japanese lily, Tiger lily, Day lily, Stargazer lily, Rubrum lily, and Red/Western/Wood lily are those that have been associated with renal failure in cats. However, all lilies have the potential to cause gastrointestinal upset in both cats and dogs. All parts of the plant are toxic, with the flower itself being the most toxic part of all. Even pollen and water from the vase aren't safe for cats to ingest. Recent studies have shown that some cats may actually be attracted to lilies and will actively seek them out, even when the plants are in seemingly hard-to-reach locations.
Injury to the kidneys can occur within 12 hours of ingestion, but cats exposed to lilies often experience vomiting, lethargy, and anorexia within just two hours of tasting the attractive plant. It is, therefore, very important to have your cat examined by a veterinarian right away if you at all suspect he or she has ingested any part of a lily plant. Additional signs of lily ingestion include weakness, excessive salivation, depression, tremors, and increased thirst/urination. Veterinary treatment typically involves induction of vomiting and intravenous fluid therapy to help flush and protect the fragile feline kidneys. Fortunately, early therapeutic intervention has been shown to result in 90% of exposed cats surviving, with no evidence of lasting kidney damage.
It is very important that cat owners understand the hazards of lilies, and make all attempts to keep lilies out of their cat's reach.