The Severe Dangers of Lilies to Cats

No Lillies

Plants and flowers can be toxic to pets and we find that most pet parents are fully aware of that. In fact, pet owners are so aware of certain toxicities that it’s not uncommon come December for Lange Animal Clinic to start receiving calls from our clients who are worried because their cat was seen nibbling on the leaf of a poinsettia plant.

The truth is that there are other plants and flowers that are more common and more dangerous to pets than poinsettias. One such flower is the lily.  Bottom line… cats and lilies don’t mix!

It only takes a nibble or a lick:

  • Lilies are one of the most dangerous flowers to have around cats. It takes only a nibble or lick to send a cat into acute kidney failure, which can be fatal.
  • If you live with cats, never have lilies in the home. When sending flower bouquets to friends or family members with cats, specifically request no lilies.

Type of true lilies include the Stargazer lily, Tiger lily, Easter lily, Day lily, Japanese show lily, Asiatic lily, Rubrum lily, and others – are beautiful, sweet-smelling flowers that are so common, you’ll find them everywhere from your own backyard to bouquets.  The unfortunate reality is that they are one of the most dangerous flowers to have around cats. It takes only a nibble on one leaf or stem, or the ingestion of a small amount of lily pollen (easy to do when a cat grooms itself) to send a cat into acute kidney failure and you rushing to the emergency vet.

Acute kidney (renal) failure is always debilitating to your pet and is expensive for you. The outlook for cats with acute kidney failure resulting from eating lilies can be good, so long as early and aggressive treatment is pursued by a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian. But if too much time passes before ingestion is recognized and appropriate treatment is started, the outlook becomes much worse and death from the disease or from euthanasia is more likely. The harsh truth is that without proper treatment, acute kidney failure is going to be fatal.

Treatment for lily-induced acute kidney failure involves aggressive IV fluids, injectable medications, nutritional support, and very close monitoring by Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians. If such treatment is proving unsuccessful, advanced options, such as peritoneal dialysis, continuous renal replacement therapy, or renal dialysis are also considered.  Referrals to specialists may be necessary for these types of treatments and they are quite costly to perform

Hospitalization and treatment costs for this condition will depend on the severity of the case and the cat’s response to therapy. It can safely be assumed, though, that a hospital bill will likely start at $2,000, and could increase to $4,000 or more. This is not a condition that can be conservatively treated – delay in starting the appropriate treatment both worsens the cat’s prognosis and increases treatment costs.

As you are hopefully appreciating, preventing your cat’s exposure to lilies is truly of the utmost importance, and there are several easy ways you can help prevent this toxicity.

  •  If you live with cats, never have lilies in the home. Regardless of how out of reach you think they may be, it’s just not worth the risk. Cats jump, dead leaves fall, vases spill, and pollen travels on breezes – any of these scenarios can kill your cat.
  • Keep your cats indoors. Many people have lilies in their garden. If your cat is outdoors, unless they are in a secure outdoor enclosure, there is no guarentee to ensure that they will not eat or rub up against those lilies.
  • When sending flower bouquets to friends or family members with cats, specifically request no lilies to be sent. To make sure they listen to your request, tell them that the recipient is deathly allergic to the flowers. Some florists may not be aware of the dangers of lilies to cats, and they don’t need to know that the ‘recipient’ you are referring to is your friend’s cat.
  • Inform your friends and family members of the dangers of lilies to cats through social media or by simply in conversation. The more people that know about the risk, the more cats we can save from lily toxicity and possible death.

Again, take every precaution necessary to avoid any exposure to lilies with all of your furry felines!

For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at  

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