If you have any questions, at any time, about something your pet has ingested or come in contact with:
Please call the ASPCA hotline directly: (888) 426-4435
They are the best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24/7/365.
A $65 consultation fee may be applied via credit card.
Lily toxicity is common in cats especially around the Easter holiday. Lilies are also frequently found in bouquets and outdoor gardens. While lilies are gorgeous flowers, most people don’t realize how toxic and potentially fatal they can be to cats. Dogs are not as sensitive to lilies as cats, and they do not experience the fatal kidney effects.
Not all lilies are toxic only the true lilies (Lilium genera Hemerocallis species). Common toxic lilies to cats include the Easter lily, tiger lily, stargazar lily, day lily and all asiatic lilies. If you are uncertain if a lily is toxic please contact your veterinarian or call the ASPCA Poison Control or Pet Poison Hotline.
See pictures below of common toxic lilies to cats:
Tiger Lily Lilium lancifolium
Day Lily genus Hemerocallis
Star Gazer lily Lilium
All parts of the plant are toxic and only a small amount needs to be ingested to cause symptoms. For example, 1-2 leaves or petal, part of a flower, pollen and water from the vase is even toxic.
The actual toxin is unknown, but it targets the kidneys and causes irreversible acute renal failure. It is uncertain why cat kidneys are more sensitive to lilies then dogs.
The toxin is rapidly absorbed and clinical signs can start occurring as early as 5 minutes post ingestion. During the first three hours common clinical signs include, vomiting, anorexia, depression and hypersalivation. Renal failure starts to develop 12 to 24 hours post-ingestion. At this phase, clinical signs are polyuria (increased urination), depression and anorexia. After 1 to 5 days after ingestion, dehydration, anuria (decreased or no urine production) and death usually occur.
Early treatment, ideally immediately after ingestion, is key for a favorable prognosis. In general, there is a poor prognosis if therapy is not started within 18 hours of ingestion or if anuria develops. Unfortunately, if not treated the prognosis is grave.
Treatment involves decontamination such as inducing vomiting, gastric lavage, and administering activated charcoal with sorbitol. The cats are then started on aggressive fluid therapy (2-3x maintenance) for 48-72 hours. Gastroprotectants are also helpful (antiemetics, antacid, phosphate binders).
If anuria is present, peritoneal or hemodialysis may be recommended.
Unfortunately, some cats that recover from the acute toxicity can be prone to developing chronic kidney disease in the future (years later).
If you suspect that your cat has ingested a lily it is very important that you contact a veterinarian immediately as prompt treatment is key for a successful outcome.
Brutlag A, Lee J. (2012, April 3). Identifying your inner green thumb: poisonous plants in small animals. Pet Poison Helpline Retrieved from: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/veterinarians/
Peterson M, Talcott P. Small Animal Toxicology. 2nd ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2006.
Source for all pictures is Wilkipedia