Down here in the Southern Hemisphere, lilies don’t naturally bloom at this time of year. However, by using greenhouses and various clever techniques, horticulturalists have managed to force some varieties to flower around Easter and Christmas. While they are stunning flowers, all of the lily family (known as Liliaceae) are in some way toxic to cats and dogs, as well as small pets, pigs, even cattle & horses. These flowers contain oxalate crystals which irritate the mouth and throat, causing pain & irritation, refusal to eat, vomiting and drooling.
Lilies in the Lilium genus – also known as “true lilies” are even more dangerous. They can be fatal for cats, as are the Hemerocallis genus (day lilies). Examples of Lilium sp. lilies include November lilies (aka Christmas lilies or Easter lilies), Tiger lilies, and a vast number of hybrids and related species including the Asiatic hybrids, Oriental hybrids, Martagon hybrids and the Aurelian or Trumpet hybrids.
These lilies cause acute kidney failure. If the cat eats even the tiniest bit of any part of the plant, they can become poisoned. This includes any pollen on their coat that they may have ingested while grooming themselves. Symptoms appear within a few days and include vomiting, lethargy, refusal to eat, changes in urination and in severe cases seizures. If you know your cat has been exposed, we strongly recommend having them seen immediately (whether they are showing symptoms or not) so that we can decontaminate them, start supportive treatment and monitor their kidney function. Often by the time symptoms are seen, the damage to the cat’s organs is catastrophic. There is no antidote.
Remember, if you ever are concerned about your pet, please do not hesitate to contact us.