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Posted on 05-19-2015

With the holidays of Easter and Mother’s Day just past, and the summer growing season upon us; here are some reminders about lilies and their dangers to cats.

There are many different kinds of plants with “lily” as part of their name.  Some are wild in ditches or wooded areas, some are bulbs from garden stores, and some are in floral arrangements. Not all lilies are toxic, but it is important to know which are toxic if you have cats (or small children).

The most dangerous and toxic lilies include the Easter lily, Stargazer lily, Asiatic hybrid lily, wood lily, and the daylily.  Exposure to any part of the plant including the pollen and the water in the base may result in kidney failure in the cat.  If a cat eats (or drinks) any part of the plant, it requires immediate emergency care.  A delay of 18 hours or more after consumption usually results in permanent kidney disease.  Interestingly, dogs only get an upset stomach.

Lily-of-the-valley and the gloriosa or flame lily are also very toxic.  Lily-of-the-valley can cause fatal heart arrhythmias in cats and dogs.  The gloriosa lily has toxic roots or tubers that can cause failure of more than one organ on those pets that chew on them.  Early and aggressive emergency treatment is needed if either lily is ingested.

There are less toxic lilies that can cause problems also.  Calla and peace lilies have crystals that cause irritation of the mouth, throat, and esophagus.  Pets will drool, foam or paw at the mouth, cry out, and vomit when these lilies are chewed.  Occasionally, the pet will have difficulty breathing.  Peruvian lilies can cause vomiting and diarrhea.  For all of these lilies, a veterinarian would provide symptomatic, supportive care as soon as possible.

If you are not sure what the lily your pet chewed on was, bring the flower or tuber to your veterinarian or the emergency service when you take the pet in.  You may also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 or National Animal Poison Control Center run by the ASPCA and University of Illinois at 888-426-4435.

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