Most people including cat lovers don’t realize how poisonous True Lilies (Lilium Species) or Day Lilies (Hemercollis species) can be to cats. Any part of the Lily but especially the Lily flower itself can KILL a cat. This even includes the flowers pollen, if the cat ingests enough of it.
The exact mechanism is unknown, but unless the cats are treated with veterinary care within the first 12- 18 hours, the toxin damages the kidneys leading to acute kidney failure and often death within 3 to 5 days. A few cats may seizure and die within 1 to 2 hours, if they have eaten a large enough amount (more than one flower)
Often cat owners don’t realize their cats may have been chewing on the flowers or leaves until one of the household cats vomit and it contains plant material. Even then, the pet owner may not seek veterinary care, until more time has passed. Waiting until the cat begins to hide, becomes increasingly lethargic, stops eating normally,or is noticeably drinking and urinating more than normal could be far too late. Unfortunately, by this point, the damage to the kidneys may be too advanced to reverse, even with very intense veterinary critical care including hospitalization and fluid therapy.
It is important to seek IMMEDIATE veterinary help for All cats in the household, if you suspect one or more of them of been chewing on any part of the Lily. This includes an Easter lily plant, Day or Tiger Lilies in the backyard, or Lily blooms in a cut flower arrangement.
ALL cats should be treated with aggressive fluid therapy and hospitalization if there are any signs of illness. Early intervention can stop the kidney failure, but the key is to start treatment the same day that the cat is found chewing or eating part of the plant, if possible.
At this point in time, cats are the only know species susceptible to Lily Toxicosis. Dogs are unaffected, other than mild GI upset, even if the dog eats an entire plant.
So remember, keep your cats safe by keeping all Lilies out of the house and yard!
For more information: see No Lilies for Cats at www.noliliesforcats.com
Reference: VIN Database, Lily Toxicosis. Contributor: Sharon Gwaltney-Brant DVM, PhD, DABVT, DABT