Lilies that Kill!

Lily ToxicityLilies are beautiful, and lovely to see in the spring. They’re especially common now, as Easter approaches.

BUT… Lilies are extremely dangerous for cats. If your cat goes outside and brushes against a lily in your neighbor’s yard, the tiny amount of pollen that sticks to her fur, when she licks it off, is  enough to cause acute, fatal  kidney failure. Symptoms may include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Unusual thirst
  • Inappropriate urination
  • Scanty or absent urination
  • Seizures
  • Death

Many plants are toxic to pets, especially bulbs, including:

  • Lilies (any plants in the Lilium and Hermerocallis genera), including Tiger lilies, Day lilies, Easter lilies, and Wood, Stargazer, Red, Western, Asiatic, and Japanese Show lilies. [Peace, Calla and Peruvian are not true lilies, although the oxalate crystals they contain can still cause significant irritation to the mouth and throat.]
  • Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
  • Amaryllis (Amaryllis belladonna)
  • Begonia (Begonia spp.)
  • Buttercup (Ranunculus spp)
  • Crocuses (including fall-blooming Colchicum autumnale as well as more common spring crocuses, which are in the Iris family)
  • Daffodils (Narcissus)
  • Gladiola (Gladiolus spp.)
  • Hyacinth (Hyacinthus)
  • Irises (Iridaceae)
  • Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)
  • Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)
  • Trillium (Trillium)
  • Tulips (Tulipa)

If you have bulbs planted in your garden, or if you bring a plant or bouquet indoors, be cautious. For garden plants, you may want to consider fencing to keep critters out. Indoor plants need to be secured well away from pets. Many cats have been poisoned by chewing on plants that a guardian was absolutely sure they couldn’t get to! (For a more comprehensive list of poisonous and dangerous plants, click here.)

If you know or suspect that your cat has chewed on or been exposed to lilies, contact your veterinarian immediately. Early, aggressive treatment is her best chance for survival.

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