Easter lilies are among the most dangerous plants out there for cats. There are several species of lilies that can cause renal failure and even death in cats, and these also include tiger lilies, Japanese showy lilies, and a variety of daylilies.
As you know, cats love to check on plants, whether you’re paying attention or not. Some will be very curious and try to nibble on the plants that you have brought into your home, and that’s where the problem lies. No matter the part of the Easter lily that your cat ends up ingesting, it is likely to cause clinical signs. All of the vegetative parts, flowers included, are toxic to cats.
In this article, we’ll look at the symptoms that a cat can show if he or she has nibbled on an Easter lily plant, if there is any treatment available, and we’ll also include some info on other potentially toxic lilies that you should never have in your home if you are a pet parent.
Around two to four hours after the cat has ingested a tiny part of a lily, she will exhibit the following symptoms:
There are cats that do not show any signs after just two hours and that take as long as six hours to do that. If that happens, you might notice some of the later symptoms:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
Most cats start showing these signs on the next day. Untreated signs can worsen to the point that the animal develops acute kidney failure. Some cats might not drink any water and stop urinating completely, whereas others might drink too much water and not urinate enough, for example.
Along with the signs that we have already mentioned, there are other, more severe ones, such as the following:
- Walking as if drunk
If you notice your cat showing any of these clinical signs, it’s time to go to the vet as soon as possible. Remember that you don’t have to actually see your cat biting on an Easter lily plant — it can just as well happen when you aren’t watching. If you do see your feline friend nibbling on a lily plant, go to the vet right away.
Why are Easter lilies so dangerous to cats?
Some cats are a bit luckier than others, and if they haven’t ingested a lot or they spit it out right after, they might show signs of toxicity for several hours, but these might subside naturally. However, one can’t take any chances in this situation, so seeking out veterinary assistance can save a cat’s life.
What’s interesting about this plant is that it is particularly toxic to cats. Generally, all animals that might ingest parts of a Easter lily flower can manifest intoxication signs, but cats are the only animal species known to develop renal failure.
In a cat’s blood, the amount of creatinine, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium start increasing about 24 to 72 hours after ingestion. That’s what makes it so difficult for pet guardians to tell whether this is an emergency and they should hurry to the vet clinic or if the cat is going to be okay after a while.
The vomiting can subside in less than 12 hours, but the cat will show depression and anorexia. The creatinine quantity in the animal’s blood increases to the point that it becomes disproportionately elevated compared to the blood urea nitrogen concentration, for example.
After approximately 18 hours, the cat’s urine can contain both epithelial casts and glucose, none of which should normally be present in a feline’s urine.
Diagnosing Easter lily intoxication cases can be extremely difficult, so if you have even the smallest suspicion that your cat has ingested a part of a flower or plant, the vet will try to prevent renal failure from being developed.
This can be done with a therapy consisting of early decontamination and fluid diuresis. The cat is administered fluids intravenously or subcutaneously, and an emetic agent is administered, as well. Once the patient vomits, he or she will receive activated charcoal with magnesium or sodium sulfate, both of which are cathartic agents. Administering Ringer’s solution for a duration of at least two days is necessary to ensure that the cat urinates properly and in sufficient amounts.
Because renal failure and death can be two developments of this intoxication, you should know that not taking your feline friend to the vet for 18 hours after he or she has nibbled on an Easter lily plant can effectively guarantee toxicity.
Needless to say, the best way of preventing Easter lily intoxication in cats is to avoid bringing any into your home. There are cats that can be a little adventurous or naturally curious, and they will try to get into apparently unreachable places just to see what new and fragrant things you’ve brought from the outside.
There are many more safe plants and flowers that you can use to decorate or brighten your living space from Easter Orchids and Easter Cactus to violets.
What about other lilies?
Peace, Calla, and Peruvian lilies aren’t capable of causing fatal kidney failure in cats, but they are definitely capable of causing intoxication. All of them are mildly poisonous and contain oxalate crystals that can cause irritation to a variety of tissues from the mouth and tongue to the pharynx and esophagus.
But the organ that oxalate crystals damage the most is the kidney, and if your cat already has a history of kidney problems, these plants can indirectly and eventually cause renal failure, too.
So, the takeaway of this article would be to avoid bringing any type of lily into your home, especially if you care about your feline friend and you don’t want to potentially harm his/her health and ruin your finances with an emergency visit to the vet (especially for pet guardians who don’t have pet insurance).