AHVEC North Hobart After Hours Veterinary Emergency Centre

Lily poisoning in cats

Lily poisoning in cats

Lilies are popular flowers in gardens and floral arrangements, but while we may admire their beauty they are lethal to cats. Lily poisoning causes acute kidney injury, which can end in renal failure. Any part of the plant is poisonous and only a tiny amount needs to be eaten to cause toxicity. The chemical in the lily that causes the toxicity is unknown, but it is in all parts of the plant.

Call your vet immediately if you suspect your cat has eaten any part of a lily plant, prompt veterinary attention is of utmost importance.

How is Lily poisoning diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will require information on your cats’ history, including any possible exposure to poisons they may have contact with. The vet will perform a complete physical examination of your cat.

The vet will need to run several tests to evaluate the condition of the kidneys. Elevated levels of blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine can be indicative of kidney dysfunction Even if the kidney parameters are normal, your vet will recommend supportive treatment for (probably) two days in hospital to help prevent injury to the kidneys.

A urinalysis may be able to give additional information on the extent of kidney damage and urine-concentrating ability.

Treatment for Lily poisoning

Prompt medical treatment is absolutely vital, the sooner your cat sees a vet, the better. Even with veterinary attention there is no guarantee for a recovery, but the chances of survival greatly decreases if treatment isn't commenced within 6 hours of exposure. Treatment is supportive & may include blood tests, hospitalisation, intravenous fluids, medications and special diets to support the kidneys.

Types of toxic lilies

There are many species of lilies which are poisonous to cats, including:

  • Tiger lily
  • Easter lily
  • Stargazer lily
  • Asian lily
  • Rubrum lily

Other hazards for cats!

  • Cat owners should also be aware of these other items which pose a risk to their feline friends:
  • Chocolate, rat bait, snail/slug baits & some dog flea treatments all cause toxicity
  • Fish hooks with bait are very tempting to cats!
  • String & ribbon are common toys for cats, but if swallowed they may cause internal blockages.

Symptoms of lily poisoning

The first signs of lily poisoning occur within 30 minutes - 2 hours after ingestion & include:

  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite

Vomiting will usually subside a few hours after exposure but this does not mean your cat is making a recovery!

As the toxin starts to affect the kidneys, depression, excessive drinking (polydipsia) & lethargy will occur. This is the beginning of acute renal failure, and it usually occurs between 1 - 3 days after ingestion.

Acute renal failure is deadly, with over 50% of patients dying despite veterinary treatment. Therefore, it is vital that you take your cat to the vet for treatment without delay if you suspect lily poisoning.