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The Truth About Easter Lily Toxicity: Poisonous Plants for Cats

If you do a quick search on poisonous plants for cats, one of the first things you will see is plenty of articles saying just how poisonous lilies are to cats!

Over Easter, a lot of people will decorate their house with lilies as they are thought to represent purity, innocence, hope and life – the essence of Easter.

To see whether cat owners should worry about filling their homes with lilies this Easter, we’ve been doing some research to find out just how poisonous lilies are and whether all these articles are media-hype or fact.

Are Lilies Poisonous Plants for Cats

Yes. Lily toxicity in felines has been known since 1992 when the topic was raised at a veterinary conference. Some vets had noticed kidney failure occurring after cats had eaten the flowers or leaves of a lily plant.

All parts of a lily plant are toxic to cats, but in particular, the leaves, flowers and pollen pose the most danger. Cats are inquisitive creatures and will quite happily chew away at house plants – plastic or living.

Just How Toxic are Lilies?

What we might consider a mild encounter with a lily plant, say a small nibble on a leaf, is enough to cause kidney problems in your cat. If your cat is allowed to eat even more, the dangers can increase significantly.

Investigations in to the toxicity of lily poisoning have shown that cats who have consumed part of the lily have only a 0-50% of survival!

Signs Of Lily Poisoning

If your cat has eaten part of a lily plant, symptoms will develop quite rapidly – within 2 hours. The most likely signs will be vomiting and a lack of energy.

You cat may appear to recover shortly, but do not be fooled as they will begin to deteriorate after 24 hours as the kidneys begin to fail. Signs of kidney failure include:

  • Excessive urination
  • Excessive drinking
  • Nervous system damage

As the symptoms progress, your cat may produce very small amounts of urine or none at all. – Death can occur 3 to 6 days following initial exposure.

What to Do if Your Cat has Eaten Part of a Lily

As with all cases of poisoning, timing and a rapid response from you is essential! It is crucial that you get your cat to the vet as soon as possible, even if symptoms appear mild or your cat has seems to have recovered.

Your vet will provide an aggressive fluid therapy to help increase your cat’s chances of survival.

It is important to get to the vet as soon as possible. The chances of survival decrease greatly if treatment is not sought 18 hours post-exposure.

Protecting Your Cat From Danger

The best step in ensuring the safety of your cat is not to have lilies around the home during Easter! Even if you think they are out of your cat’s reach, being the acrobatic and inquisitive creatures they are, they may still be able to get to them.

If you really must have lilies this Easter, be sure that they are plastic. Don’t take the risk of having live lilies.

Did You Know the Dangers?

A recent study from December 2011 aimed to find out whether American cat owners were aware of the dangers that lilies pose to cats. Of the people included in their survey less than a third were actually aware of the dangers lilies pose!

We need to raise awareness of just how dangerous lilies are, so please spread the word. Share this post on Facebook & Twitter and let’s make sure that all our cat owning friends are aware of just how dangerous the seemingly peaceful lily is!

It seems like Easter is quite a dangerous time for our pets! We recently spoke about the dangerous of having all that Easter chocolate around our dogs.


About James Watts

BSc Bioveterinary Science. Editor of PetSci. When I'm not writing, learning, discussing, or reading about animals, you know it's the weekend! Currently developing PetSci HealthTrak, the fast and easy way to monitor your pet's weight and calorie intake. HealthTrak offers a simple way to track your pet's progress, helping them achieve a healthy weight and a long, happy life.

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