Did you know that Easter can pose a significant threat to your feline friends? It’s not just chocolate that we’re worried about this time! A little known toxin could be within reach of your cat right now, and it goes by the name of Lilium Longiflorum, aka the Easter Lily. Pretty as they are, lilies can do some serious damage to your beloved cat, particularly to their kidneys, even if only a small amount is ingested. Unfortunately, toxicity can occur from anything as simple as drinking water from a vase or transfer of pollen to the fur that’s then ingested via grooming. We’re all familiar with the old saying “curiosity killed the cat,” now it may start to make sense how that saying came about. Never underestimate the strange things your cat may find appetizing. In this case, your cat’s curiosity could quickly turn into a potentially fatal situation.
What to watch for?
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in urination (typically first an increase followed by a decrease in urine output indicates acute kidney failure could be occurring)
If it’s possible your cat could have ingested part of a lily and is showing any of the above signs it is extremely important to seek immediate veterinary attention. If it has been within six hours since ingestion, the veterinarian may be able to induce vomiting, followed by administering charcoal into the gastrointestinal tract, preventing further toxins from being absorbed into the body. Typically a hospital stay with IV fluids is the best course of treatment. Blood work and urine testing will also be completed to assess kidney function and any potential damage that may have occurred. If the beginning of treatment is prolonged to eighteen or more hours, kidney failure is likely to be irreversible. Quick action is the key to the best outcome for your cat.
Although Easter lilies remain the biggest toxicity offender during this time of year, it is not the only one to bring cause for concern. Be on the watch for any lily that is part of the genera Lilium or Hemerocallis. A few examples of these include daylilies, tiger lilies, red lilies, and stargazer lilies. If your cat may have ingested part of a lily and you are unsure if it is toxic, seek medical attention and bring the plant (or preferably the tag) with you to the veterinarian for identification.
The best way to ensure your cat stays safe is to keep lilies not just out of reach, but out of your house and garden completely. It is also recommended to think of your fellow cat-owning friends when sending flower bouquets. Excluding lilies from any gift is a smart way to show your love for your friend and their cats. Luckily, there are many beautiful plant alternatives that won’t cause a potentially life-threatening situation for your felines such as roses (but watch out for the thorns!), zinnias, and sunflowers. Be sure to spread the word to your friends and family to help keep cats safe and happy this Easter and skip the emergency visit to the vet.
Written by: Lauren Cuzner, RVT