Here at Just Cats, we know that prevention is better than the cure. This is why we feel very strongly that cat owners need to be made aware of how poisonous lilies are to our feline friends. While there are owners out there that are aware, for the majority of people this is new information.
Lilies are a very popular flower these days, easily available year round in bouquets. However, a well meaning gift could end in tragedy for a cat owner. Most of the common types of lily are poisonous to cats, particularly the species Lilium and Hemerocalllis. All parts of the lily are poisonous, not just the pollen as is sometimes believed. The flower itself is the most poisonous part, and it may only take your cat cleaning a small amount of pollen from their coat or to eating 1-2 leaves to result in death
Lilies are toxic to your cat's kidneys. Initially, they will cause a tummy upset and your cat may briefly seem out of sorts, with drooling or vomiting. Within 12 hours the toxins have begun to work on the kidneys and signs of kidney failure will become apparent. These signs include dehydration, dullness, persistent vomiting, and anorexia. Sometimes neurological signs are seen, appearing uncoordinated, and swelling of the face and paws can occur.
If your cat has eaten lilies and you do not seek veterinary attention within the first 18 hours, almost 100% of cases will die or have permanent and severe damage to the kidneys. If completely untreated, they will certainly die. However, cats that are brought to the vets quickly after eating the lilies can survive with no lasting side effects, if treated aggressively. The outcome and severity of long term damage depends on the amount of lily eaten and the time after eating that you get them to the vets.
Once at the vets, our first aim is to 'decontaminate' your cat. This means removing as much of the toxin from their system as possible. Decontamination is done by making them vomit if they have eaten the lily recently and washing any pollen off their coat. They may also be given charcoal by mouth to 'soak up' any more toxins left as they passes through the intestines. The second part of treatment is to minimize damage to the kidneys. This is done by placing them on intravenous fluids for 2 days to ensure that they don't shut down essentially. During this time, their blood and urine will be tested to monitor kidney function. And thirdly, we will manage the other symptoms such as pain, vomiting and nausea and we will provide nutritional support.
So, if you think that your cat has eaten any amount of lily, or if you see pollen on their coat, please call us on 01 - 822 7270, or your nearest vet, immediately.
Many common plant species are poisonous to cats, causing a range of problems, such as kidney failure, skin irritation or gastroenteritis. See http://www.icatcare.org:8080/advice/keeping-your-cat-safe/cats-and-poisonous-plants for a fairly comprehensive list of plants that are poisonous to cats.
Image courtesy of www.felinedocs.com
Dublins First Cat Only Veterinary Clinic; Just Cats Veterinary Clinic, Coolmine, Clonsilla, Dublin 15.
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