Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats. Just one small bite of a flower, leaf, stem or even the pollen of this plant can cause gastric distress, and, more importantly, if left untreated, can lead to fatal kidney failure.

Symptoms of lily toxicity

Symptoms usually develop 6-12 hours after ingestion, and can include:

  • vomiting
  • lethargy
  • lack of appetite.

Within 24-72 hours, signs of kidney failure will develop:

  • increased thirst
  • increased urination, followed by decreased and eventually no urination
  • dehydration
  • death

If you see any of these symptoms, and if there is even a small chance that your cat may have ingested parts of an Easter lily, get your get to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic. Keep in mind that you may not have seen your cat eat the plant.

Diagnosis of lily toxicity

Your vet will perform blood and urinary testing.  Urine analysis will show epithelial casts (indicators of kidney disease) in as few as 12 hours after ingestion. Increased BUN, creatinine and potassium levels in the blood will be seen 18 – 24 hours after ingestion.

Treatment of lily toxicity – time is of the essence

If treatment is initiated within 6 hours of ingestion, chances are good that the cat will survive. After 18-24 hours, the prognosis, even with treatment, is poor.

Treatment will involve aggressive intravenous fluid therapy for at least 48 hours after ingestion. Your veterinarian may also administer activated charcoal to neutralize any remaining toxins in the digestive tract.

Just say no to Easter lilies

The best way to keep your cat safe is to not have Easter lilies in your home, and ensure that your cat does not have access to these plants if she goes outside. Several other types of lilies that are toxic to cats as well: Tiger lilies, Day lilies and Asiatic lilies. These popular plants found in many yards can also result in severe acute kidney failure. These lilies are also found in florist bouquets, so it is imperative to check for poisonous flowers before bringing bouquets into the household.

This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated.

19 Comments on Easter Lilies and Cats: A Potentially Deadly Combination

  1. Thanks for the reminder. It sure doesn’t feel like Easter is coming up. it will be so different this year without spending it with family.

  2. We call the popular, Christmas time, red flowered plant a poinsettia in America.
    In case you were still wondering. .
    Better late than never, lol, on my reply to your post from 4 years ago.

  3. All lilies are poisonous for cats-the whole plant! My kitty chewed on a leaf of a lily i had in the house and became very sick. She was vomiting blood…it was a Sunday, of course, so i had to take her to the Emergency Vet. She had to get IV for days…the whole thing cost $2000! that was back in 2008 i think…No more lilies here!

    • I’m glad your kitty survived. You are absolutely right – all parts of the plant are poisonous. Even just getting some of the pollen on fur and licking it off can be enough to cause fatal kidney damage.

  4. Tiger lilies are bad too. The most expensive housewarming present we ever got was a bouquet containing tiger lilies. It cost $600 at the emergency vet for induced vomiting and charcoal.

    • You’re right, Jessica. I couldn’t find a photo of a cat with actual Easter lilies (which is probably a good thing!) – they are, of course, white.

  5. Thanks for posting! This is the reason we don’t have any real flowers or plants in our home as well. There are just too many that will make your cat sick ( if you’re lucky that is, there are also many highly toxic ones that most likely will kill them 🙁 ). My sister lost a cat ones because it ate the red flowers that become populair around christmas time here in the Netherlands (they call them christmas stars, not sure what the English name is). I’ll just stick to silk flowers for that matter, better save than sorry!

    • We call the popular, Christmas time, red flowered plant a poinsettia in America.
      In case you were still wondering. .
      Better late than never, lol, on my reply to your post from 4 years ago.

  6. Like everyone else cannot emphasise this enough and thought that ALL lilies were
    toxic to cats. Frightening thought.

    Am I right in thinking poinsettias are also toxic, but not quite so devastating – can cause severe kidney damage and make the cat unwell but not necessarily a death threat? We once had one of these plants given as a present and one of our cats in particular cosied up to it – plant hastily removed – and Alice is still with us happily!

  7. Great post. We always had these every Easter(even as a child)till I found out they could hurt your kitty. Now I don’t get them anymore. Sure don’t want to take a chance.

  8. this cannot be stressed enough. Way back in our archives we did a post called “Zack’s Precious Message”, I think it was in 2010…it was about a local boy who lost his cat due to it eating an Easter Lily plant. He and his Mom contacted me, asking me to blog about it to prevent the same thing happening to others. To be safe, I bring NO live plants into my home.

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