A Lily By Any Other Name. . .

Once a friend of mine jokingly asked “Are lilies toxic to cats?” because her arsehole cat chewed on the flowers someone had given her after a bad day.

I kind of freaked out at her. Dramatic caps locked exclamations freaked out.

LILIES ARE ALL OF THE TOXIC TO CATS.

Her cat is fine. But I promised her I would spread the word a little about the dangers of lilies with a blog post.

Here’s the deal: the whole plant is toxic. Stem, leaves, petals, every little bit. The actual toxin is unknown, and it caused gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea) and acute renal failure.  This is cats only, not a concern for dogs, and there is a very high mortality associated with ingestion of lilies. We treat symptoms and provide supportive care and cross our fingers and hope for the best.

So what do you do if you so much as suspect your cat has chewed on some part of a lily? Call your vet. There is no home remedy here. Call. Your. Vet.

If your vet happens to be me, this is what will happen: I will tell you that you should come in, we should do blood work to immediately assess kidney health and hospitalize your cat for observation and IV fluids. After a couple days, I would recheck the blood work and with any luck everything is fine and you can bring your cat home. I will be sympathetic to the fact that this plan costs several hundred dollars that you might not have laying around. . . so I will discuss the option of waiting to see if symptoms develop, making sure you understand the BEST option is to be proactive. If you chose to wait and monitor at home, I will advise you that the very first THOUGHT of vomiting, you need to bring that cat in. There is no ifs ands or buts about this: if your cat so much as chewed on any part of a lily and so much as urges, it needs to be seen. You cannot live without your kidneys. If you wait until the cat is definitely super ill it will be too late.

I can’t be over dramatic about this. Lilies and cats are the worst.

Personally, as a cat owner, I just don’t ever have lilies in my house. There are plenty of very pretty, non-cat-killing flowers. Like roses. People can give me all the roses they want. Just saying.

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About dottiemaggie

A veterinarian living and working in St John's, Newfoundland. I love my job, and I love my home. Professionally I am passionate about critical care and client education. Away from work I am passionate about enjoying life, spending time with friends, enjoying hobbies of all sorts, and exploring this wonderful province I call home.
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6 Responses to A Lily By Any Other Name. . .

  1. Laura says:

    Thanks for the warning! I have to be really careful about what plants I bring into the house, because I can’t predict what my cat will decide to chew on, and the only places he can’t get to are the insides of cabinets/drawers and the top of the refrigerator — none of which is an ideal spot to display a plant.

    I really like the safe/dangerous plant lists here: http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/poison-control/plant-list-cats/.

  2. Are we allowed to make requests? I’d LOVE a post on bloat. Gordon (my labradoodle) was licking/gagging forever the other day, much worse than he gets occasionally. I took him to the vet and by the time we got there, he was a lot better, so I never went in – particularly because he let out 2 huge burps, which I heard meant it probably isn’t bloat. I’ve heard horror stories of dogs getting bloat and dying out of the blue so I’m terrified every time he gets what might be just an upset tummy.

    Just a thought if you get a chance!

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