Easter lilies, as well as all other species in the genus Lilium (Asian lily, Japanese show lily, Madonna lily, rubrum lily, and tiger lily, to name a few) are a symbolic flower of the resurrection of Jesus and a beautiful harbinger of spring, but are unfortunately quite deadly to our feline friends. All parts of the plant (including the pollen!) contain a yet to be identified toxin for which there is no antidote. Time is of the essence when treating lily ingestion, so if you see your cat nibbling on an Easter lily or there is evidence that this has occurred (teeth marks or torn leaves,) CONTACT YOUR PRIMARY CARE VETERINARIAN OR THE ANIMAL EMERGENCY & REFERRAL CENTER IMMEDIATELY!!!
Death occurs in 50% of cats that ingest lilies, but increases to nearly 100% if immediate veterinary care is not sought. Signs of lily toxicity may begin within a few hours of ingestion and include vomiting, inappetence/disinterest in drinking, lethargy and dehydration. Within 12 to 48 hours this progresses to signs that indicate acute kidney failure, which may initially include increased urination and thirst. As the kidneys continue to be affected, the cat may stop urinating. Other signs have been reported including pancreatitis and neurologic derangements, including seizures. All cats are different, so the timing of these symptoms may vary.
Supportive therapy and symptomatic treatment should begin immediately if lily ingestion is suspected. The veterinarian may initiate decontamination by giving a medication that will cause the cat to vomit the parts of the lily it ingested, or by washing the stomach contents out with fluid. Then a substance that will bind any of the remaining lily and its toxins and promote their movement through the gastrointestinal tract may be administered. Hospitalization on intravenous fluids is imperative to flush the toxin from the blood and protect the kidneys. The veterinarian will also watch for any additional complications and treat those as necessary. Diagnostic tools used to assess the health and function of the kidneys, which may include blood work, imaging, and biopsies, may also be recommended to assess the progress of therapy and treatment.
The best way to prevent such a misfortune is to ban all lilies from your home, and if your cat does venture outside, survey the places they frequent and remove any lilies that they may come in contact with – or better yet, you’re your kitty’s indoors!
See below for a few examples of these TOXIC Lillies!