Are Lilies Toxic to Cats?

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Michael Fassbender

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.

Lilies are extremely popular around the world and are commonly seen in garden beds and borders and in bouquets. While their flowers are lovely to see and smell, lilies pose a significant safety threat for your cat.

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. The toxin, which only affects cats, has not been identified. Dogs that eat lilies may have minor stomach upset but they don’t develop kidney failure.

Highly Toxic Lilies for Cats

The most dangerous lilies for cats include Asiatic lily, Daylily, Easter lily, Japanese Show lily, Oriental lily, Rubrum lily, Stargazer lily, Tiger lily, and Wood lily. Because these lilies are so dangerous for cats and there’s a high risk of death if they’re ingested, it’s best to not bring these plants into your home if you have a cat.

Other Highly Toxic “Lilies” for Cats and Dogs

Other plants may have the word “lily” in their name but they aren’t in the “true lily” or “daylily” families and don’t cause kidney failure in cats. However, these “lily” plants may cause other serious problems if ingested. Both lily-of-the-valley and the gloriosa or flame lily are very dangerous to cats and dogs.

Less Harmful “Lilies” for Cats and Dogs

Both calla lilies and peace lilies contain insoluble crystals of calcium oxalates. The Peruvian lily contains a toxin that causes mild stomach upset if a cat or dog ingests a large amount. The Peruvian lily can be mistaken for a smaller version of a “true lily” plant but doesn’t cause kidney failure in cats.

FAQs

What should I do if my cat ingests lilies?

If you suspect that your cat has eaten any part of a lily or its pollen or has drunk water from a vase containing lilies, immediately call your veterinarian or a pet poison control center. Depending on the type of lily, it may be a medical emergency and prompt veterinary treatment is critical.

What are the clinical signs of lily toxicity in cats?

Initial clinical signs of lily poisoning in cats include vomiting, lethargy, drooling, and loss of appetite. Increased urination and dehydration may be seen 12 to 24 hours after ingestion and are signs of kidney damage.

How can lily toxicity be prevented in cats?

The best way to prevent lily toxicity is to keep your cat away from these particular types of lilies. Do not bring lilies into your home if you have a cat, and do not plant them in your garden if you or your neighbors have cats that have access to the outdoors.

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