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Beware the lilies if you have kitties!

With Easter, Passover and the beautiful spring weather right around the corner, it is time to talk about a very serious danger to your cats: LILIES!

Yes, lilies are some of the most beautiful and popular flowers of the season, but they are also the most deadly. ALL parts of the lilies, including the leaves, flowers and pollen, are very poisonous if ingested by your cats, causing kidney failure within 36-72 hours and death in 3 to 6 days if left untreated. However, cats treated by your vet within 18 hours of ingestion have an overall good prognosis for survival.

Whisper, Clinic Kitty

Whisper, Clinic Kitty

So what can you do?

  1. Keep lilies out of your house. There are countless stories of well-meaning people who put their beautiful bouquets up high or in another room, but their cats go to them anyway. Better safe than sorry; take the flowers to work!
  2. Don’t send lilies to the house of your friend who has cats. When ordering bouquets for friends and family, request “no lilies, please” or other pet-friendly flowers.
  3. Don’t forget your gardens…and your neighbor’s garden. If your cat has access to the outdoors, be sure there are not lilies growing in his territory.
  4. Watch closely for signs of lily poisoning. Most cats will vomit, become lethargic or lose their appetite after eating lilies. If you see any of these and there is the SLIGHTEST chance your cat was near a lily, get to your vet fast!

So which lilies are poisonous?

These lilies can cause kidney failure in your cats: Easter Lily, Tiger Lily, Stargazer Lily, Japanese Lily, Asian Lily, Day Lily, Rubrum Lily.
These lilies (which are not really lilies) can cause oral and gastrointestinal irritation in your dogs and cats: Peace Lily, Calla Lily.
This lily (also not really a lily) can cause gastrointestinal upset and heart dysfunction: Lily of the Valley.

kitten

Photo courtesy of Odd Little Duck Photography

When in doubt, call your vet for further instruction and to get answers and peace of mind.

Finally, what about your dogs?

For reasons unknown to science, cats seem to be the only animals that suffer from kidney failure after eating lilies. However, dogs can develop some gastrointestinal irritation and vomit all over your carpet.

(And don’t forget to keep those chocolate bunnies up high or in the freezer!)

Lilies are everywhere this time of year, brightening rooms and bringing smiles to faces. With a little diligence, you can keep your cats away from them and possibly prevent a tragedy. And remember, if you are ever in doubt, it’s better to call your vet now rather than wait until it’s too late.

About Brenda Eisenhauer