Beware of lily poisoning in cats
Dr Ashimi Das
Lilies are a favourite of a lot of us. But did you know that this humble flower can cause severe kidney damage to your cats? Lily poisoning is something not many pet parents know about. Read on to find all about lily poisoning in cats. Lilies are a favourite of a lot of us. But did you know that this humble flower can cause severe kidney damage to your cats? Lily poisoning is something not many pet parents know about. Read on to find all about lily poisoning in cats.
As responsible pet parents, we always need to be aware of things that could harm our feline friends. With knowledge comes great power, as they say. So when we discover that a particular item poses a danger to our pets, the best bet is avoid bringing that item to your home. Lilies are one such item. They are extremely poisonous to our feline companions.
How does it affect?
Lilies contain a nephro toxin (toxins affecting the kidneys) which causes acute kidney failure. The exact toxin isn’t known, but it is water soluble and ingestion can cause death of renal cells. Some of the most commonly found lily types that are known to be poisonous are –
- Easter lilyl
- Tiger lilyl
- Japanese show lilyl
- Rubrum lilyl
- Day lily
It is not just the flower that is poisonous, but the entire plant can lead to toxicity in cats. The leaves, stamen, pollen, flowers, and roots with only a tiny amount (less than one leaf) and even water from a vase the lilies have been in are enough to poison a cat.
Signs and symptoms
There are two stages of lily poisoning. 1st stage – It occurs due to gastrointestinal upset. Symptoms occur 30 minutes – 2 hours after ingestion and include:
- Vomiting (with some pieces of the ingested plant)
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive drooling
- Increased urination (causing dehydration)
2nd stage – Vomiting subsides anorexia and depression typically remain. Within 72 hours acute kidney failure occurs, symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Bad breath
- Absent urination
- Increased or decreased thirst
Diagnosis is based on the history of exposure to the plant along with signs of acute kidney failure. To determine the condition of the kidneys, your vet would recommend some tests.
- If emergency treatment is begun within 6 hours of consumption, there are high chances of complete recovery. It is done by emptying the gastrointestinal tract and intravenous fluid therapy.
- If more than 18 hours have passed, there is a chance that kidneys might be severely affected. Your vet would perform kidney tests and decide the course of treatment on the basis of test results. The best way to prevent kidney failure due to lily poisoning is prompt treatment. Sadly is no antidote for lily poisoning, and the treatment is aimed at removing any remaining plant material, preventing further absorption and fluid therapy.
How to avoid lily poisoning?
Avoid having lilies in your house, even as cut flowers. If you do have lilies in the house, make sure your cat cannot reach them and inform everyone in your household of the dangers lilies pose to the cat. Although cats do not chew on lily flowers in the yard, but why take a chance. Don’t let them wander on their own out in the yard. Most people are unaware about how badly can lilies affect cats. Thus, it is essential that you share this vital information with fellow pet parents and keep your feline friends safe! (Dr Ashimi Das, BVSc &AH, MVSc surgery & radiology, is based in Kolkata)