Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: June 28, 2023 by Crystal Uys


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.

Signs of lily toxicity

Signs 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.

Cat blood tests
Image Credit: PRESSLAB, Shutterstock

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.

Featured Image Credit: megaflopp, Shutterstock

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