The veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline, a national 24/7 animal poison control center, receive hundreds of calls this time of year from cat owners and veterinarians concerning cats that have eaten Easter lilies.
Ahna Brutlag, DVM, assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline, reminds cat owners that Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats. “All parts of the Easter lily plant are poisonous: the petals, the leaves, the stem and even the pollen. Cats that ingest as few as one or two leaves, or even a small amount of pollen while grooming their fur, can suffer severe kidney failure.”
In most situations, symptoms of poisoning in cats will develop within six to 12 hours of exposure. Early signs include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and dehydration. Symptoms in cats worsen as kidney failure develops. Some cats will experience disorientation, staggering and seizures.
“There is no effective antidote to counteract lily poisoning, so the sooner you can get your cat to the veterinarian, the better his chances of survival will be,” Brutlag said. “If you see your cat licking or eating any part of an Easter lily, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately. If left untreated, his chances of survival are low.”
Treatment advice from your vet or the hotline will likely include inducing vomiting, administering drugs like activated charcoal (to bind the poison in the stomach and intestines), intravenous fluid therapy to flush out the kidneys, and monitoring of kidney function through blood testing. Contact your vet or the hotline immediately if you believe
Several other types of lilies are toxic to cats as well. They are of the Lilium and Hemerocallis species and commonly referred to as Tiger lilies, Day lilies and Asiatic lilies. Popular in many gardens and yards, they can also result in severe acute kidney failure. These lilies are commonly found in florist bouquets; check for poisonous flowers before bringing bouquets into a household with cats. Other, lilies – such as the Peace, Peruvian and Calla lilies – are usually not a problem for cats and may cause only minor drooling.
Pet Poison Helpline also receives calls concerning cats that have eaten Easter grass and chocolate.
The helpline is available in North America by calling (800) 213-6680; its ee of $35 per incident includes unlimited follow-up consultations. Additional information can be found online.