Lily toxicity in cats

Attention all cat owners! Did you know that lilies are toxic to cats?

Many common varieties of lilies including the Easter lily (pictured), Asiatic lily, stargazer lily, tiger lily, and white lily are toxic to cats when ingested.

Lilies belonging to the Lilium or Hemerocallis genera contain toxins that can permanently damage your cat’s kidneys.

All parts of the lily plant are dangerous, be it the stems, leaves, petals or pollen. Even the tiniest exposure, such as if your cat were to lick some pollen off its fur, can make it very sick. Some cats have died just by eating two leaves or part of a single flower.

If ingestion occurs, cats will be affected in a very short time frame. The first signs of poisoning can happen within one to three hours after ingestion. Be sure to look out for:
• Salivation
• Vomiting
• Loss of appetite
• Depression.

If you suspect potential exposure, take your cat to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

It is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate and aggressive veterinary treatment. If left untreated, the condition can be fatal within a few days of exposure.

As there is no antidote for lily toxicity and cats that survive can suffer from irreversible kidney damage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Cat owners should avoid keeping lilies in the house altogether and inspect bouquets for any toxic lilies. Cat-friendly alternatives include roses, orchids, daisies, and violets.

Many cat owners are unaware of the dangers of lily toxicity so please help spread the word.

By Nara Zhou, 5th Year Veterinary Student, The University of Sydney

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