Cats & Lilies: Avoid The Danger Lurking In Your Home

Cat Care

Ahh, Those Beautiful Lilies.

Everyone knows and loves lilies. The official Latin name of this group of plants is Lilium. It includes dozens of types of lilies, all of which have captivating floral displays.

Lilies are so beautiful that they have inspired phrases such as “to gild the lily”, meaning to decorate something that is pleasing in its original state. It’s no wonder they’re often a popular choice at garden supplies stores – where they are sold as bulbs – and florists’ shops, where they are sold in full bloom, on their own or as part of glamorous flower arrangements.

Lilies are also extremely poisonous to cats. Ingesting any part of a lily plant, even in small quantities, can be lethal to a cat.

What are the symptoms of lily poisoning in cats?

These plants are considered to be nephrotoxic, i.e., affecting the kidneys. When a cat ingests even a small amount of lily petals, leaves or any other part of the plant (even pollen!) the toxic compounds enter its body and begin to poison the kidneys.

Some owners report initial vomiting and drooling following ingestion. Within 24 hours signs of kidney failure show up, with excessive urination followed by dehydration and a decrease in urine amounts, vomiting and lethargy. The prognosis is poor. Unless emergency medical care is provided within the first few hours, the cat may die within 3-6 days.

What to do if you suspect your cat ingested a piece of a lily?

If you suspect your cat has come in contact with lilies, call your vet immediately. This is a medical emergency. If your veterinarian is unavailable, call the nearest emergency clinic.

Let them know what happened and ask for advice. The vet may instruct you to induce vomiting as a preliminary step. He or she will also ask you to get the cat to the clinic right away to begin treatment. Do not delay treatment! If you do, the result will be a painful death for your cat.

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Are all types of lilies toxic to cats?

Yes and no. There are many kinds of flowers that are commonly known as lilies but don’t really belong to the Lilium genus. Only members of the Lilium genus are “true lilies” and they are the ones most dangerous to cats. For example, the plant known as Calla Lily is not a true lily and belongs to genus Calla. Water lilies belong to the Nymphaeaceae family and are not a Lilium as well.

Confusing? It can be. If you are not a botanist, your safest bet is just to keep any plant with the word “lily” in its name away from your cat. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and after all, while other plants may not be as toxic as true lilies are, they can be toxic enough to get your cat sick or at least uncomfortable.

Popular kinds of lilies include Easter, Tiger, Day (Hemerocallis), Asiatic, Stargazer and Japanese show lilies.

How to keep your cat safe from lilies

It’s simple. Keep lilies – all lilies – out of your home.

Don’t bother with trying to assess each variety and type. If it’s a lily – it should not be in your home. Here are a few additional ideas –

  • Spread the word and let people know you want to keep lilies out of your home. Hopefully, they’ll keep this in mind if they want to send you flowers.
  • If you’re getting flowers from a regular florist, ask them to have it on your card that you do not want to ever get lilies in any flower arrangement.
  • Sending someone else flowers? Make sure there no lilies in the arrangements to keep their cats safe, too.

Think that your cats are safe because they never chew on house plants? Think again. Some cats only do that when they feel sick and with no other alternatives they may nibble a lily. Even without chewing, and even if you keep lilies out of Kitty’s reach, all it takes is for some pollen to fall off the plant and land somewhere it can easily get on your cat’s coat. If that happens, lily poison will be ingested during the next grooming session.

Having lilies around your home is simply not safe. Ever. If you have any, today is the day for you to put on a pair of gloves and get rid of them. There are other safe plant alternatives, and if you absolutely need them as part of your home decor, opt for these safe and toxin-free silk lilies.

Please help spread the word.

Help us save the lives of cats. Every spring, cat owners bring lilies into their homes and innocent cats are harmed. Share this article to spread the information and help save a feline life.

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