Lilies are an extremely popular flower all around the world, with good reason. They are beautiful with a lovely aroma and look amazing in any garden or flower bouquet. Unfortunately, lilies are very toxic to cats and pose a real risk to your feline friend.
How much and what part of the lily is toxic?
Every part of the lily is toxic to cats. The stem, leaves, petals, pollen, and even the water they are kept in if they are in a vase. Your cat doesn't need to ingest much at all to become very ill. It could be a little nibble of a leaf or a small drink of the water they are held in. Sometimes all it takes is for your pet to brush their fur up against the pollen and groom themselves later.
What are the signs of lily toxicity?
The first signs of lily toxicity usually show up within the first two hours. These can include vomiting, decreased activity, drooling and loss of appetite. After 12 to 24 hours signs of kidney failure may being to be noticeable such as increased drinking and urination. If no urine is being produced this is a sign of complete kidney failure and is a dire emergency. Fatal kidney failure can occur within two to three days.
How is it treated?
Emergency vet treatment is needed as soon as possible after ingestion, even if they aren't showing any signs of toxicity. The first thing the vet will do is make your cat vomit if they haven't done so already. A charcoal solution may then be given to help absorb any toxin that remains in the stomach. This will be followed by a high volume of intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and try to stop the kidneys shutting down. Your cat will remain in hospital on fluids for several days and regular blood tests will be done to monitor kidney function.
What is the prognosis?
The outcome of treatment is very variable. The prognosis depends on multiple factors, including: how quickly treatment was started, how much toxin they ingested and the age of the cat.
Prevention is much better than cure!
Due to the extremely toxic nature of the lily and the high possibility of kidney failure and death, it is suggested that lilies are removed from the gardens of and never brought into a household that has cats. It is also worth thinking about and asking your florist if the arrangement contains any lilies before sending flowers to friends or family. If you live with cats, be sure to keep lilies well away!