Lilies are favorites in gardens and as cut flowers in bouquets. However, for cats, lilies can be fatal. Many types of lilies are highly toxic when ingested by a cat.
What Types of Lilies Are Toxic to Cats?
The true lilies are the most dangerous. These are lilies of the Lilium or Hemerocallis species and include the tiger, day, Asiatic hybrid, Easter, Japanese Show, rubrum, stargazer, red, Western, and wood lilies. These types of lilies cause kidney failure for a cat unlucky enough to ingest any part of these lilies.
Lilies such as the Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies are much less dangerous. These lilies can cause irritation to your cat’s mouth, tongue, pharynx and esophagus but do not cause kidney damage. Cats that ingest these plants may drool, paw at the mouth and even vomit but the effects are transient and cats generally recover fully.
Another type of lily that can be dangerous for cats is the lily of the valley. This type of lily can cause a heart arrhythmia and can be fatal if ingested by your cat. However, these lilies do not affect the kidneys like the true lilies.
Symptoms of Lily Poisoning
With true lilies, all parts of the plant are toxic to your cat. Even the pollen is dangerous, and cats can be poisoned by rubbing up against a lily plant and then ingesting pollen from their fur while grooming. They can also be poisoned by drinking water from the vase of a flower bouquet containing these lilies.
The symptoms of lily poisoning are those of kidney failure. These include:
- lack of appetite
- change in water consumption
- change in urine volume
- bad breath
Treatment of Lily Toxicity in Cats
If you see or suspect that your cat has ingested any part of a lily plant, seek veterinary care immediately. Early diagnosis and intervention is key to successful treatment.
If the ingestion is recent, your veterinarian may induce vomiting for your cat, depending on your cat’s condition. Intestinal protectants such as activated charcoal may also be administered in an attempt to block absorption of the toxins from the intestinal tract.
Supportive care and monitoring will be essential for your cat. Fluid therapy is the mainstay of treating acute kidney disease such as that caused by lily poisoning. Other medications to control vomiting and other symptoms may be necessary as well.
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