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Lily Toxicity

Did you know lilies are toxic to cats?

Lilies are gorgeous flowers. They’re fantastic in a bouquet or in your garden and, in some cultures, they are even considered a herb.

Which is all well and good if you’re human. But if you’re a cat, you don’t want to be anywhere near lilies. The flower, pollen, and leaves of lilies contain a toxin which, when eaten, can mess with your cat’s kidneys. Worse, the toxin is water-soluble, so drinking water from a vase of lilies can affect your cat as well!

If you suspect your cat has had contact with any part of a lily, see your vet ASAP! If we catch it early enough, we can stop and minimise the toxin from getting into their system. The toxins in lilies will cause kidney failure in cats and the effects are not always reversible intervention was prolonged. Many cats will not display any clinical signs until 75% or more of their kidney function has been affected. By the time you’ve detected there’s something off, it is often too late.

How do I know if my cat has been exposed to lilies?

Signs to look out for includes:

  • Not eating
  • Lethargy (being extra floppy for a cat)
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Smelly breath
  • Drinking loads of water and increased in urination (using the litter box a lot)
  • Seizures

What will my vet do if my cat has been exposed to lilies?

Your furbaby will most likely need to stay in the hospital for a few days, depending on how severe their condition is.

  1. Induce vomiting/ endoscopy
    1. If your furbaby has ingested any part of the lily plant within the past 2 hours, we will attempt to induce vomiting to remove any part of the plant that is still within the stomach. An endoscope (an equipment with a tiny camera attached to it) is a great tool to look down into the stomach for the removal of any plant fragment that can be seen.
  2. Charcoal meal
    1. Your vet will give your cat a charcoal meal to limit absorption of the toxin in its gut.
  3. Blood tests
    1. This is absolutely necessary! The results help us understand how best to manage your cat when it comes in – if the kidneys have been affected, how much? Is there anything else going on that will affect treatment? It can also help us decide when your cat can leave the clinic. A blood test is usually needed on the day of lily ingestion then again in 24 hours, 48 hours and 72 hours if required.
  4. Fluid therapy
    1. The mainstay of treatment is fluid therapy, which means we’ll be providing fluids to support the kidneys to flush all the toxins out and prevent dehydration (which keeps the rest of the organs happy). Literally, the best thing we can do for your furbaby is to provide fluid therapy for at least 48 hours and, then, to perform another blood test to check how much damage has been done to the kidneys.

You should know …

In some cases, the kidneys are so badly affected that cats develop something we call “chronic kidney disease”. If this happens, we’ll help you understand the condition better and how you can help your cat live a long healthy and happy life.

Finally, prevention is better than cure. Keep your cat away from lilies!

If you think that your cat has been in contact with lilies, please seek veterinary help/treatment ASAP! If you have any further questions, please give us a call and chat to one of our pawesome staff members.