On March 27, 2024

Lilies are very toxic to cats 


Dear Editor,

With Easter and Mother’s Day approaching veterinarians are urging cat owners to be aware that lilies, commonly added to spring bouquets, are highly poisonous to cats. These include the Lilium and Hemerocallis species, which are commonly referred to as tiger lilies, daylilies, and Asiatic lilies.

All parts of the lily plant are poisonous — the petals, leaves, stem, and even the pollen. A cat need only ingest as few as one or two leaves or groom a small amount of pollen off their fur to send them into severe kidney failure which can lead to death.

Most of the time the symptoms (vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, dehydration) occur within 6-12 hours and will worsen as the kidney failure develops. There is no medication to counteract the poisoning, but the sooner you can get your cat to the veterinarian to try to prevent and reverse the effects, the better.

You may believe your cat never eats plants or gets on the table to bother them. However, there is always a first time and you cannot control the pollen from the lily dropping down onto the floor or your cat’s fur. Curious young cats, in particular, are prone to testing new plants by chewing or sniffing them. It is heartbreaking to see cats develop kidney failure from something that could have been prevented.

Please check for lilies and other poisonous flowers in any bouquets before you bring them into the house. You can find a full list of plants that are toxic to cats and other animals online by typing in the search bar “Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants ASPCA.” If your cat has come into contact with a lily — which can include licking, eating, or brushing up against the pollen — call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Hotline (1-855-764-7661) immediately.

M. Kathleen Shaw DVM, Vermont Veterinary Medical Association

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