Easter Lilies are Toxic to Cats!! By Asha Wise, DVM 2-22-2009
It is Sunday afternoon and I am at work, concerned because my beloved kitty Orangie (named by my youngest son Benjamin), decided to eat part of an Easter lily leaf that was in an arrangement of roses my husband brought home for Valentine’s Day. I did not realize the lovely bouquet of roses also contained an assortment of lilies, as the bulbs had not yet opened. Ingestion of just a small part of a lily can cause irreversible kidney failure and death in cats if not treated early. Hopefully, the fact that I knew this and immediately brought Orangie in for treatment will save his life. Treatment must be started quickly before any illness is evident. So, as I sit here at work worried about my cat and thinking about my next column, I decided to reprint part of my first column on common household toxins to help keep our pets safe through the Easter season. Q: Are lilies poisonous to cats?
Enjoy your Easter Lilies, but keep them out of the reach of your cat! Beautiful Easter Lilies (Lilium longiflorum) and several other types of lilies can be lethal to your four-legged friend.
Ingestion of one leaf or flower can kill a cat. Even the pollen is harmful. Depression, vomiting and loss of appetite often occur within half an hour. Signs of kidney damage start in about forty eight hours and include severe depression, increased urination and dehydration. Death from kidney failure follows within five days.
If you know – or even suspect – that your cat or kitten is showing symptoms of Easter lily poisoning, take it to the vet or hospital as soon as possible. If treatment is administered before renal failure sets in, your cat has a better chance of surviving. The best and most helpful time to start treatment for Easter lily poisoning in cats is within six hours of ingestion. If medical therapy is begun after 18 hours have passed, the odds that your cat will recover are greatly reduced. After 18 hours, damage to the kidneys is usually irreversible.
Treatment for Easter lily poisoning in cats may involve causing your cat to vomit, administering activated charcoal, and giving him intravenous fluids to keep him hydrated. Between 50% and 100% of cats poisoned by Easter lilies die. Since the actual toxin has not been identified, there is no antidote to the poison – which means there is no way to
If you suspect your cat has eaten Easter lily flowers or leaves contact your veterinarian immediately. Supportive care may help if started within a few hours.
Q: What are some “people foods” that should not be fed to pets?
Raisins and grapes. While healthy for people, raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea and can proceed to death. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate. Chocolate is unsafe for dogs and excessive
ingestion can lead to clinical signs within 6 to 12 hours of ingestion. Initial signs include
increased thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and restlessness. Signs progress to hyperactivity, increased urination, tremors, and seizures. Death is generally due to cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory failure.
Macadamia nuts. These can create hind limb weakness, tremors, depression, vomiting and fever.
Onions. Onions can be harmful to dogs and cats. Pieces of onion, onion powder, or even cooked onion, can cause damage to red blood cells which could result in anemia.
Chewing gum. While not harmful to people, gum or candy containing the sweetener xylitol can cause severe hypoglycemia with weakness, collapse and seizures. Ingestion, even in small amounts, can lead to liver failure and death.
While many pets can consume small amounts of the above foods and be fine, please call your veterinarian if you suspect that your pet has ingested any of these.