Lily toxicity in cats


by Richard Doyle Richard Doyle
Although a beautiful and fragrant flower, to our feline friends the lily plant is deadly! Sadly cats may be poisoned by lilies if they eat any part of the plant. Kittens are at high risk due to their inquisitive and exploratory behaviour, but all cats, especially older ones, are often affected simply by brushing against the flower and getting the yellow pollen on their coat. Cats are constant groomers so will ingest the lily pollen as they clean their fur.

Clinical signs are: Vomiting, anorexia, depression, paralysis, respiratory problems, seizures and swollen face and paws.

The main problem caused is renal (kidney) failure, a life threatening condition.

Even survivors can be left with chronic renal problems and sometimes pancreatitis.

So what should you do?

Seek veterinary attention ASAP. Your vet may be able to induce vomiting if the plant has been ingested within the last two hours. Activated charcoal will need to be administered to reduce any inflammatory reaction. In all cases your cat will need to be placed on a drip so the kidneys can be supported by intravenous fluids, usually for several days. Also a blood test will need to be carried out to assess any damage caused.

So, if you have an inquisitive kitty then it’s probably best not to have lilies in your house or make sure they are out of reach!

  • Treat all lilies with caution but the most dangerous ones are:
  • Tiger lily (lilium tigrinum)
  • Day lily (Hermerocalis)
  • Stargazer lily (lilium orientalis)
  • Easter lily (lilium longflorum)
  • Rubrum lily (lilium speciosum)
  • Japanese How lily (lilium Lancifolum)
  • Asiatic lilies

Lilly’s case study

Meet ‘Lilly’ a 10year old Persian cat who decided to familiarise herself with her name sake!

Lilly came into contact with the plant at midday but her owner was unaware of the effects of lily exposure. Hours later Lilly was brought in to see the night vet and she was then washed and placed onto intravenous fluids for 48hours. Happily blood tests showed that fortunately Lilly did not incur long term kidney damage.