With Valentines Day just passed and Mother’s Day on the horizon we all like to receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Lilies have become increasingly popular because of their beautiful colour and smell. Unfortunately an unknown toxin in the plant makes them particularly poisonous. Ingestion of even a tiny amount of plant can lead to kidney failure and death can occur. The gastrointestinal and nervous systems may also be affected.
What parts of the plant are toxic?
The flower is the most toxic component, but all parts of the plant are toxic. The smallest of plant pieces, if ingested can be toxic. These flowers also produce a large amount of pollen, and this too can be toxic. The pollen is yellow to orange (depending on the lily) and gets everywhere. Cats that have pollen on them should be bathed, as they ingest pollen as they groom themselves.
What are the signs of Lily poisoning?
Signs may occur as early as 6 hours after eating. They include vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite and shivers. Signs of kidney failure soon follow. These include and increased thirst, dehydration, increased urination initially that can develop into decreased or no urine as the kidneys shut down.
Death can occur. Kidney failure may occur up to 36-72 hours after ingestion.
How is it diagnosed and treated?
If you have lilies in the house and your cat shows any of the above signs, a vet check is recommended ASAP. Studies have shown that cats whose treatment is left for more than 18 hours after ingestion of the plants have a much worse outcome. Early aggressive intravenous fluid therapy gives your cat the best chance. Medication to protect the gut lining is also given.
Tinga, a beautiful 1year old Tabby cat was the baby in the family. His owners thought he would be safe from the dangers of the world being an apartment cat- no chance of car accidents or cat fights, no nasty dogs to battle with and no access to things that he shouldn’t eat…
Unfortunately, his mum liked flowers. As a special treat to herself and to brighten up the apartment she bought some beautiful Oriental Lilies.
Tinga thought they were fun to play with too. While his owners were at work, he did the typical young cat thing. He slept, he woke, he ate, and he followed the sun around the apartment and played with things…including the newly bought flowers. When his owners came home from they found him to be quiet. They found vomit around the house containing chewed leaves. A quick call to the Vet HQ after hours emergency number and they were soon at Vet HQ.
Urine tests showed that Tinga’s kidneys had already started to show signs of damage but thankfully blood tests revealed that his prognosis would be good with aggressive intravenous fluid therapy and gastric protectants.
Tinga made a speedy recovery and is as gorgeous as ever but there are no more lilies allowed in the house!