Unfortunately, two of my favourite things don’t go together! Lilies and cats 🙁
People who know me, know I love cats (and will probably say that I’m writing this blog post partly as an excuse to share a photo of Mr. Bungle), so I felt it was worth spreading the word about the dangers that lilies pose for cats, as many people are not aware of it.
I must admit that I didn’t know the extent of the danger for a long time and Mr. Bungle has probably been around a lot more flowers than most cats. When we (and by ‘we’ I mean my partner Rob and myself – I don’t normally refer to my cat and I as ‘we’, I’m not THAT cat lady) owned a bricks and mortars store we used to live above the shop and Mr. Bungle would spend a lot of time underneath the floral display watching customers come and go without them realising. Luckily enough he doesn’t seem to have been affected, but we’re more cautious nowadays.
Even the slightest contact with lily pollen, leaves, stem, or the flower itself can cause a cat to suffer a painful death from acute kidney failure. Reported cases have documented cats dying after getting lily pollen on their fur and then grooming themselves. There have even been reports of cats becoming ill and dying after taking a drink of water from a vase of lilies.
So, what’s a good cat owner to do? Well, if you’re a cat-lover who can’t guarantee that your home will always be lily-free, there are some precautions you can take to prevent your cat from poisoning itself.
Why Are Lilies So Dangerous for Cats?
Whatever makes lilies poisonous to cats is still unknown, but we do know that the toxin is lethal. All lilies pose danger to cats, however “true lilies” hold the greatest concern to cats. These plants come from the genus Lilium and include Easter lilies, tiger lilies, Asiatic lilies, and day lilies.
If you suspect that your cat has eaten a lily leaf or licked lily pollen you have an 18-hour window to get help before potential death. Yes, it’s that grim!
How Do You Know if Your Cat Ingested Lilies?
If Chillin’s Buttonsworth has been acting funny and you suspect a lily may be the culprit, look for these tell-tale signs before going into panic mode:
- Check the fur around his mouth for yellow pollen, a sure sign of contact with a lily.
- Keep an eye out for vomiting. Sometimes this will mimic the signs of grape, raisin and antifreeze poisoning.
- Watch for drooling and a loss in appetite.
- Tremors, seizures and lethargy are also common with lily poisoning in felines.
If you see any of the following signs, bring your cat to the emergency room immediately as these are signs of beginning kidney failure:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination at first, followed by lowered urination that steadily decreases until there is no urination at all
Saving Your Kitty from the Lilies!
There are some precautions that you can take to ensure the safety, health and well-being of your cat. Follow these guidelines and your kitty will enjoy a long and happy life!
- Spread the word! Let your friends and family know about the danger lilies pose to your cat, and make sure if they order you flowers to ask that lilies are NOT included.
- There’s no such thing as a cat-free zone! Don’t fool yourself into thinking that little Chairman Meow won’t climb all the way to the top of your bookshelf to investigate something he fancies. No matter how high up or seemingly out-of-the-way your lily plant may be, it will never truly be out of your cat’s reach.
- Unless you have a secure outdoor enclosure, keep your cats indoors! There are plenty of people who grow lilies in their garden and there’s no way to keep tabs on what your cat comes into contact with once he’s out.
If you notice your pet cat acting strangely and you suspect that it has something to do with lily poisoning, take your cat to the vet or emergency room immediately (click here for a list of vets around Melbourne or search google in your local area). When it comes to something as serious and deadly as feline lily poisoning, time is of the essence.
If you’re concerned about not being able to use lilies in your flower arrangements, give roses, natives or orchids a try. If you like a particular arrangement that has lilies in, most florists should cater to special requests, so ask them what could be substituted. Your cat will thank you!
Lastly, I don’t mean to be alarmist, because our ginger moggy has had a long and happy life whilst sometimes being too close for comfort around lilies, but it’s worth taking precautions – some cats will chew anything!