Lily Toxicity: Springtime Dangers for Cats

In springtime, especially around Easter, common blooming flowers of the genera Lilium and Hemerocallis threaten cats with their extreme toxicity. Flowers which belong to these genera which are toxic to cats include:

  • Easter lilies
  • Tiger lilies
  • Stargazer lilies
  • Daylilies

These plants are common to gardens easily accessed by outdoor cats and floral arrangements often sent in the spring.

Although the exact toxin has yet to be identified, all parts (petals, leaves, stems and pollen) of these flowers are severely toxic to cats and cause acute renal (kidney) failure and death within three to six days, if not treated within the first 18 hours of exposure.

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Seek Immediate Treatment for Lily Exposure

If you suspect your cat has been exposed to lilies, our veterinarian will begin immediate treatment to support your cat’s system, including medications to help your cat eliminate toxins and aggressive fluid administration to support kidney function. Cats who receive treatment within 18 hours of exposure generally recover well after about 48 hours of treatment. If a cat does not receive prompt veterinary care, lily exposure is most commonly fatal.
As with any illness, prevention is the best medicine. Keep your cats away from lilies at all times. Do not let your cat wander outside if your neighbors grow lilies. Remove lilies from your own yard and prevent them from entering your home by celebrating Easter with feline-friendly plants.

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Signs of Lily Toxicity in Cats

Cats are extremely sensitive to lilies and do not actually need to ingest the plant; even minor exposure, such as chewing on leaves, causes lethal toxicity. Cats who have been exposed to lilies typically shows signs of gastrointestinal stress, such as vomiting. If you notice bite marks on plants, suspect your cat has been near lilies or notice any unusual behavior, we strongly suggest seeking immediate veterinary care.

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