No Lilies for Kitties!


Nothing says Easter like a beautiful arrangement of lilies. Lilies symbolize rebirth and purity and have been associated with the Resurrection of Christ for decades! While these flowers may help to get you into the spirit for Easter Sunrise Service, white lilies, and every other flower in the true lily family should be kept far away from our feline friends!

If a cat ingests a lily, their body processes the flowers into a metabolite. We do not yet understand why or how this happens, but this metabolite quite literally shreds cats’ kidneys from the inside out, leading to severe and rapid kidney failure. Kidneys are arguably one of the most important organs of the body, which is why lily ingestion is often a death sentence to cats who do not receive treatment in time. 

Every single part of the lily plant is toxic: leaves, petals, stem, pollen, water. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much, even sniffing pollen or taking a drink from the vase water the flower is in can be fatal for cats.

Signs of lily toxicity occur within a few days of ingestion of the flower as the kidneys begin to fail. 

Here are signs of lily toxicity to watch out for at home:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea (Increased salivation/swallowing/lip licking)
  • Inappetence
  • Increased thirst and urination

If left untreated, cats will eventually stop urinating and experience seizures, coma, and death.

There is no antidote for lily poisoning.

Cats that ingest lilies require hospitalization with aggressive fluid therapy to help to protect their kidneys and provide other supportive care. Cats are usually hospitalized for 1-2 days at a minimum. 

Cats that receive care before the start of symptoms usually have a fair to good prognosis of surviving to discharge. However, these cats often suffer from low level kidney damage for the rest of their lives and may require lifelong management and lifestyle changes. The likelihood of survival decreases with onset and severity of symptoms and kidney failure. 

If you believe that your cat has ingested any part of a lily flower, please call our office or go to an emergency veterinarian immediately. Depending on the situation, our veterinarians may advise that you take your cat to an emergency clinic with 24/7 ICU monitoring if they believe that will give your cat the best chance at survival. 

There are some lookalike flowers out there that resemble lilies, but are not actually lilies. If you are having trouble identifying a flower, contacting a florist or posting on a plant identification Facebook group can be extremely helpful. Remember that only true lilies: Daylilies, Easter lilies, Tiger lilies, Stargazer lilies, etc cause this rapid kidney failure in cats. (While Lily of the Valley and Flame lilies are not true lilies, they are also dangerous to cats for other reasons, and you should seek veterinary care if your cat eats these as well). 

The best way to treat lily toxicity in cats is to prevent it altogether. If you own a cat, you should think twice about bringing lilies into your home. Even if your cat is normally well-behaved, since this flower is so deadly, it is not worth the risk. 

Pet Poison Helpline  1-855-764-7661

This 24/7 phone service for veterinary toxin emergencies, can be extremely helpful. Their expert veterinarians and veterinary technicians can help you to identify plants of all varieties and can make a plan for the treatment options for your kitty!

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