Spring! It is finally here and despite the snow today there's hope - the days are longer and flowers will soon be making their appearance. Nothing says spring more than seeing crocuses, tulips and lilies pushing up in the flower beds. It is nice to get out and smell the flowers or bring a fresh bouquet into the house, but cat owners beware, some of these flowers can cause serious, life-threatening disease for our feline friends.
While all plants may cause some stomach upset or oral irritation, plants from the Genus Lilium or Hemarocallis are extremely toxic to cats. These include, but are not limited to, Easter Lilies, Day Lilies, Asiatic Lilies and Tiger Lilies. Cats that have consumed any part of a lily plant or even ingested some pollen that was on their coat are at risk for life-threatening kidney failure. If you suspect that your cat has consumed some part of a lily plant it is to be considered a medical emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention. If your pet has not already vomited, the veterinarian may induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal to help reduce the amount of toxin that is absorbed. In order to assess the level of kidney damage, bloodwork will be performed. Treatment for lily poisoning involves hospitalization and intravenous fluid administration to flush out the toxins and support the kidneys. If treated early there are rarely any long term effects. However, without treatment, death can occur within 3 days.
The best way to keep your cats safe is to make sure you do not bring any lily plants into the house. Pay close attention to the flowers present in bouquets during Easter and Mother’s day, a common time to see cases of lily toxicosis. Outdoor cats can be a bit more difficult as we cannot be sure where they go when outside. Keep lilies out of your own garden and watch your cat for any early signs of toxicity. Seek veterinary attention if your cat displays early signs of poisoning including vomiting, lack of appetite, increased or decreased urination or dehydration.