The Toxic Hidden Secret in our Gardens - Lilies

Written by Dr Amanda Auricht

Did you know that lilies are poisonous to cats?

True lilies (genus Lilium) including Easter lilies, stargazer lilies, tiger lilies and day lilies (genus Hemerocallus) are all toxic to cats.

They cause damage to the kidneys, and the ingestion of only a very small amount of any part of the plant, including the pollen can cause potentially fatal kidney disease.

Even consuming less than one leaf can lead to severe consequences.

Cats may even become poisoned by rubbing up against a lily, getting the pollen on their coat and then grooming it off.

Early signs include drooling, dullness and vomiting but within 12 hours this can progress to refusing to eat, depression, swelling of the face and paws and neurological signs including seizures.

Some cats may not exhibit any clinical signs for up to five days.

Immediate treatment is essential.

If there is any pollen on the cat, it should be washed off immediately.

If the cat has eaten any part of the lily, it will be made to vomit and then given activated charcoal to prevent any further absorption of the toxin.

At the veterinary surgery, the cat will be placed on an intravenous drip and blood will be taken to monitor kidney function.

Medication will be administered for nausea and nutritional support may need to be provided by the placement of a feeding tube.

Early and intensive treatment is usually successful if administered within the first 18 hours.

After that time, the damage to the kidneys is likely to be irreversible and may cause the death of the cat.

Prevention is the key! 

If you have a cat, the best option is not to have any of the poisonous lilies in your home.