Easter Lilies Are Deadly to Cats

lilies_are_deadly_to_cats

As we approach the Easter holiday, it becomes vitally important once again to ensure that all cat owners know that Easter Lilies are deadly to cats. The information below comes to us courtesy of Dr. Lorie Huston of the Pet Health Care Gazette, and the veterinarians at the Pet Poison Helpline.

The Pet Poison Helpline, a national 24/7 animal poison control center, receives hundreds of calls this time of year from pet owners and veterinarians concerning cats that have ingested Easter lilies.

Easter lilies are deadly to cats“Unbeknownst to many pet owners, Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline. “All parts of the Easter lily plant are poisonous – the petals, the leaves, the stem and even the pollen. Cats that ingest as few as one or two leaves, or even a small amount of pollen while grooming their fur, can suffer severe kidney failure.”

In most situations, symptoms of poisoning will develop within six to 12 hours of exposure. Early signs include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and dehydration. Symptoms worsen as kidney failure develops. Some cats will experience disorientation, staggering and seizures.

“There is no effective antidote to counteract lily poisoning, so the sooner you can get your cat to the veterinarian, the better his chances of survival will be,” said Brutlag. “If you see your cat licking or eating any part of an Easter lily, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately. If left untreated, his chances of survival are low.”

Treatment includes inducing vomiting, administering drugs like activated charcoal (to bind the poison in the stomach and intestines), intravenous fluid therapy to flush out the kidneys, and monitoring of kidney function through blood testing. The prognosis and the cost – both financially and physically – to the pet owner and cat, are best when treated immediately.

There are several other types of lilies that are toxic to cats as well. They are of the Lilium and Hemerocallis species and commonly referred to as Tiger lilies, Day lilies and Asiatic lilies. Popular in many gardens and yards, they can also result in severe acute kidney failure. These lilies are commonly found in florist bouquets, so it is imperative to check for poisonous flowers before bringing bouquets into the household. Other types of lilies – such as the Peace, Peruvian and Calla lilies – are usually not a problem for cats and may cause only minor drooling.

Thankfully, lily poisoning does not occur in dogs or people. However, if a large amount is ingested, it can result in mild gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Photo of cat with Tiger lilies: istockphoto, photo of Easter lily: morguefile.com

18 Comments on Easter Lilies Are Deadly to Cats

  1. Anthony
    March 27, 2016 at 10:12 am (4 years ago)

    Please be aware that before re-posting any articles that Hemerocallis are toxic to cats, there is no controlled study which in any way supports this supposition. The information being distributed for years is based on a single anecdotal study, which likely involved Lilium but not Hemerocallis. We all love our cats and dogs, but we need to be aware of the true science, and not just regurgitation of untested positions. I’ve spoken with the originator of the original study, and even he acknowledged that further study needed to be done, to my knowledge, it never has. I do believe that everyone who does this “information sharing” has good intentions, but it does a disservice to just mimic the position of the ASPCA, which is questionable at best.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 27, 2016 at 3:00 pm (4 years ago)

      I think all the cat parents whose cats have died after ingesting lilies and all the veterinarians who have treated lily toxicity in cats will disagree with your opinion, Anthony.

      Reply
  2. LeAnn
    April 7, 2012 at 3:02 pm (8 years ago)

    Thank you so much for posting this!! I have cats in the house and my mother-in-law had brought me some Easter Lillies…and I had them in my house!! I had no idea they were toxic to cats! I am just so thankful my cats didn’t pay the plants any attention, and I have removed the plants from my house! Thank you, again, for posting this article!! YOu probably saved my cat’s life!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm (8 years ago)

      I’m so glad you read this post before your cats could get to the lilies!

      Reply
  3. sue
    April 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm (8 years ago)

    I don’t think I have seen Easter lillies over here.
    I dont have any house plants inside except 3 pots
    of Benji’s cat herb!!!! my balcony plants he cant get
    too and has never thown any interest. Flies are his
    fabourite catch!!

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth Chace
    April 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm (8 years ago)

    My sister lost one of her young cats a few years ago to Lilly poisoning. Her daughter had brought her some lilies for Easter and she put them in the sink with plans to find a vase to put them in. The next morning the lilies were chewed up and one of the cats had been throwing up but she was not sure which of the cats it was. By the time she figured out which one it was, and $2,ooo.00 later in vet bills, her beloved cat died anyway due to organ failure. What a terrible lesson to learn.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm (8 years ago)

      I’m so sorry about your sister’s cat, Elizabeth. What a horrible way to lose a young cat.

      Reply
  5. Yika
    April 1, 2012 at 6:59 pm (8 years ago)

    I became aware of this a couple of years ago and I was sure glad I found this out. My mom is fond of giving seasonal plants during the holidays. As my cat is a senior citizen at 17 years old, this would most certainly mean instant death for him.
    I also forwarded this to my vet who runs a feline-only clinic asking her to post it this week.
    Thanks for the timely posting. You may have saved a cat’s life!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 1, 2012 at 7:01 pm (8 years ago)

      I’m always surprised how many people don’t know about this, which is why I repost this frequently. Thank you for sharing this with your vet, Yika.

      Reply
  6. Ann
    April 23, 2011 at 7:29 am (9 years ago)

    I did not realize lilies were so poisonous. I don’t have any plants in my house because all three of my cats chew them. Last time I bought cat grass it was down to stubs in 10 minutes. NO other plants come in.
    I do have lillies in the yard, but my cats don’t go out.
    As much as I love fresh flowers I love my cats more.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 23, 2011 at 8:36 am (9 years ago)

      I gave up on houseplants a while back, too, Ann, and people know not to send or give me flowers. It’s not worth taking chances.

      Reply
  7. Dr. Plotnick
    April 22, 2011 at 9:48 am (9 years ago)

    Thank you Ingrid for this important reminder

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 22, 2011 at 10:00 am (9 years ago)

      I’m always surprised how many cat owners don’t know this. Here’s hoping that you won’t see any of these cases at your clinic this Easter season!

      Reply
  8. Layla Morgan Wilde
    April 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm (9 years ago)

    Timely and maybe life-saving advice. This would be a good time to explore our homes for other toxic plants. I keep no plants indoors in the warm weather months except for African violets which are non-toxic. But in the winter, I do bring in herbs and other plants to winter indoors. A good guide to sort safe from toxic is http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/

    Reply
  9. Max the Quilt Cat
    April 11, 2011 at 7:56 am (9 years ago)

    Thanks for the heads up on the deadly lily… HH doesn’t have any plants or flowers. Can you imagine what the boys would do with flowers… HEE HEE. Have a great day.

    pawhugs, Max

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm (9 years ago)

      I don’t have any real plants at my house either, Max – all of my plants are silk. It’s just not worth it to me to take chances. Oh, and then there’s also the matter of me having a black thumb when it comes to plants…

      Reply

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