Lovely Lilies and Curious Cats: A Dangerous Combination

March 21, 2017 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

Cats are curious creatures by nature. They love to play, jump, and roam around the house or yard, but sometimes their inquisitive personalities get the best of them. They’re just drawn to that beautiful bouquet of stargazer lilies on your kitchen table or the colorful cluster of daylilies in your garden. However, here’s a spring reminder that lilies can be a safety threat to your feline friend.


Lilies in the “true lily” and “daylily” families are very dangerous for cats. The entire lily plant is toxic: the stem, leaves, flowers, pollen, and even the water in a vase. Eating just a small amount of a leaf or flower petal, licking a few pollen grains off its fur while grooming, or drinking the water from the vase can cause your cat to develop fatal kidney failure in less than 3 days. Other lilies, like Calla and Peace lilies, don’t cause fatal kidney failure, but they can irritate your cat’s mouth and esophagus. Lilies of the Valley are toxic to the heart, causing an abnormal heart rhythm. Lilies are not a great danger to dogs. Dogs may have some gastrointestinal issues if they eat a lily, but nothing considered life-threatening.


Early signs of lily toxicity in cats include decreased activity level, drooling, vomiting, and loss of appetite. These symptoms start 0 to 12 hours after ingestion. Signs of kidney damage start about 12 to 24 hours after ingestion and include increased urination and dehydration. Kidney failure occurs within 24 to 72 hours and can be fatal if the cat isn’t treated. Early veterinary treatment greatly improves the cat’s prognosis.  If you suspect your kitty has eaten a lily, call us immediately.


Does this mean that you can’t have lilies in your home if you have a cat? Although its best not to have them in your home, if you want to enjoy these pretty spring flowers, be sure to keep the plant someplace that your high-jumping pet can’t reach.

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