Vet Blog

Are Lilies Toxic to Cats?

May 05, 2021

If you are an avid gardener, or you have a passion for indoor house plants, there may be a possibility that you have lilies in your home or your garden.

Unfortunately, this can be a very dangerous thing if you have cats in your home.

All parts of the lily plant are toxic to cats, including the petals, the stems, the pollen, and even the water in the vase. Even a very small amount of lily pollen, water, or petals ingested can cause lethal liver damage in your cat. If you spot any symptoms of lily toxicity, the expert vets at Animal Care Center of Castle Pines can provide emergency intervention.

Most Dangerous Types of Lilies for Cats

There are many different types of lilies, so it's important to know which ones are the most toxic to cats. The most toxic types include:

  • Asiatic lily
  • Daylily
  • Easter lily
  • Japanese Show lily
  • Oriental lily
  • Rubrum lily
  • Stargazer lily
  • Tiger lily
  • Wood lily

These lilies are all members of the plant genus Lilium. While certain types of lilies, such as lily of the valley, do not belong to this genus, they can still cause heart problems for cats when ingested, leading to seizures and heart failure. The roots of the gloriosa lily contain enough toxins to cause multi-system organ failure in both dogs and cats.

Keep Lilies Away from Cats

It is best to not bring these plants into your home if you have a cat, due to the high risk of death when ingested. If you or your neighbors have an outdoor cat, you should avoid planting them in your garden as well.

The toxins in lilies can cause cats to develop fatal kidney failure in less than three days. The exact toxin is still unidentified, but it only causes kidney failure in cats. Dogs should avoid eating lilies, as they will cause stomach upset, but lilies will not send dogs into fatal kidney failure.

Signs of Kidney Failure

If you suspect your cat may have ingested part of a lily plant, watch them closely for any signs and symptoms of poisoning or kidney failure. If you are certain your cat has ingested part of a lily plant, don't wait for symptoms to show up-bring your cat into Animal Care Center of Castle Pines immediately.

The early signs of lily toxicity and poisoning in cats can show up as soon as 0-12 hours after ingesting a lily plant. The early signs include low activity levels, drooling, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Around 12-24 hours after ingestion, signs of kidney damage will begin, including increased urination and dehydration.

By getting your cat to the vet as soon as you see any signs or symptoms, their prognosis will greatly improve. If you wait 18 or more hours following lily ingestion, your cat will likely have irreversible kidney failure, ultimately leading to death.

Safer Floral Alternatives to Lilies

If you're looking for a safe floral alternative to plant in your garden or add to bouquets that will not harm your cats, here are some great options:

  • Marigold
  • Blue Daisy
  • Sunflower
  • Zinnia
  • Camelia
  • Canna
  • Persian Violet
  • Snapdragon
  • Gerber Daisy
  • Viola
  • Petunia

If Your Cat Ingests Lilies, Seek Veterinary Treatment Immediately

If you suspect or are certain that your cat has eaten any part of a lily, consumed its pollen, or drank water from a vase with lilies in it, seek veterinary help immediately. This is a medical emergency, and getting treatment early on can be critical in saving your cat's life.

If possible, bring the ingested plant with you (or snap a picture of it on your phone) to the veterinary clinic so that it may be identified. If it is one of the highly toxic lilies, knowing the exact type will enable your veterinarian to better plan a course of treatment.

We know that emergencies rarely happen on a convenient schedule, so we are here for you no matter what. If your pet is experiencing an unplanned medical emergency of any kind we will gladly make time to see you and examine your pet with no appointment required.

If your cat has ingested lilies, call Animal Care Center of Castle Pines at (303) 688-3660 to be seen in our office as soon as possible. We are equipped to handle most emergencies and for the things that require 24-hour care, we offer stabilization, diagnostics and can help you transfer your pet to the nearest 24-hour facility.