Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lily Poisoning in Cats

 

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner many people will be lucky enough to receive flowers from loved ones. But spare a thought for the effect that this could have on your fluffy four-legged friends. Lilies in particular can be extremely poisonous or even fatal, especially to cats.

Most members of the lily family are toxic to cats, especially those of the Lilium and Hermerocallis genera:

  • Easter lilies
  • Day lilies
  • Tiger lilies
  • Stargazer Lilies

All of the above can cause acute (sudden) kidney failure. Other “lily” plants such as the Peace Lily or Lily-of-the-valley do not cause kidney damage but can result in cats (and dogs) becoming very unwell.

All parts of the lily plant are considered toxic to cats (including the stem, leaves, petals, stamens and pollen). Cats are extremely sensitive to lily poisoning; even minor exposure (for example, a cat chewing on a leaf or getting pollen on their whiskers or haircoat) can be fatal.

What are the signs of lily poisoning in cats? (Those in bold are the most common)

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy/depression
  • Inappetance
  • Drinking more/urinating more
  • Drooling
  • Tremors (possibly leading to seizures)

Signs of lily poisoning typically start within a few hours of ingestion of the plant, however the vomiting may settle after a little while. This does not mean that your cat is out of danger! Kidney failure can develop as late as to 72 hours after ingestion and affected cats can die up to 6 days later from kidney failure.

What should I do if my cat has been exposed to a poisonous lily?

If you are concerned that your cat has been in contact with any part of a toxic lily plant you must visit your vet immediately. Our Golden Grove Emergency Hospital is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so there will always be a vet available when needed.

Cats that are treated within 18 hours of exposure typically recover. However in cases where treatment is delayed, the prognosis is poor and some cats may require euthanasia. Unfortunately there are no home treatments that are successful in saving cats with lily poisoning so it is vital you visit a vet.

What does treatment for lily poisoning involve?

Your veterinarian will advise putting your cat on intravenous (IV) fluids in hospital for round the clock monitoring and care. The fluids assist the kidneys in flushing out the dangerous toxins in the lily plant.

The vet will also take some blood from your cat and run various tests to monitor kidney function during their stay in hospital. These tests can be run at our Golden Grove Emergency Hospital and the results are available very quickly. This gives us an idea of how well your cat is progressing and allows us to modify or change their treatment as required.

Summary:

  1. If sending flowers to people with cats, request that there are no lilies included in the bouquet.
  2. If you do receive lilies and you have a cat, ensure they are kept well away (remember that cats are very inquisitive creatures and very adept at jumping – keeping the flowers in a room that cats cannot access is best).
  3. If you think your cat may have been in contact with a poisonous lily, visit your vet immediately – once again, our Golden Grove Emergency Hospital is open 24 hours for emergency appointments.