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Are Easter Lily Plants Poisonous to Cats?



It’s that time of the year when pet owners worry about their dogs getting into chocolate hidden in unfound Easter eggs in the yard.

However, what many don’t know is that the ornate Easter lilies that are also part of many people’s Easter traditions are terribly poisonous to cats. You might have heard rumors about this but just thought they were wives’ tales.

Nonetheless, you might find yourself asking, “Are Easter lily plants poisonous to cats?”.

The short answer is yes, yes they are.

In fact, the most potentially life-threatening lilies that cats can eat belong to the genera Lilium — true lilies — and Hemerocallis. Your Easter lily is a “true lily” in all its splendor and feline deadliness.

It is normal for cats to eat small amounts of plants or grass, but this behavior is definitely not okay when it’s a lily.

The entire lily plant — leaf, flower, and pollen — is poisonous to them. Even if they just lick a few pollen grains off their coats or eat a couple of leaves, cats can suffer acute kidney failure within a very short period of time.

Signs and Symptoms of Cats Eating Easter Lilies

Even if you decide to forgo lilies in your home and yard to protect your furry friend, with 10 to 11 million of these plants produced annually in the US, you’ll want to be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with a cat eating a lily — just in case yours does.

Shortly after a cat eats an Easter lily (or any dangerous lily, for that matter), it will start vomiting. Additionally, if your cat has eaten a lily, it can suffer from diarrhea, lack of appetite, and dehydration, as well as showing signs of depression.

Common signs that you’ll want to be watching for are:

  • Inappetence or anorexia (your cat can’t or won’t eat)
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Hiding
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Increased or decreased urination

So, are Easter lily plants poisonous to cats? Yes, and even more worrisome is that, if untreated, death can occur within seven days of ingestion. If your cat has consumed a lot of the plant, this could happen much sooner.

Are You Worried Your Cat Ate an Easter Lily?

If your cat is showing signs of having eaten an Easter lily or other lilies in your home, you need to act immediately. Oftentimes, it will be possible to see the damage the cat caused to the plant to confirm an issue. However, even if that’s not the case, don’t delay seeking medical attention for your cat.

Either way, take samples of any possible culprits to the veterinarian, along with your cat. If you think it’s possible that your cat is suffering from a reaction to any other toxins that were left out, you should also bring them to the pet hospital. The more information you can provide a veterinarian with, the better care they’ll be able to provide to your furry friend.

Melanie McLean, a veterinarian at the Food and Drug Administration, explains that early veterinary treatment is critical. McLean goes on to point out that if you “suspect that your cat has eaten a lily, you should call your veterinarian immediately or, if the office is closed, take your cat to an emergency veterinary clinic.”

Acting quickly will minimize the possibility of there being long-term organ damage.

When you bring your cat into the vet, they might induce vomiting and give your furry friend intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and preserve kidney function.

There a number of common issues that the vet might identify when giving your cat a physical exam. Among them could be fluid buildup (edema), swollen kidneys, and dehydration.

Taking Care of Your Cat After Kidney Damage

The primary concern with your cat eating a lily is the possibility of kidney failure. Even if kidney failure is avoided, long-term damage to your cat’s kidneys can be expensive to care for.

To confirm the diagnosis of acute kidney failure, your veterinarian might need to order a blood chemistry panel, complete blood cell count, a urinalysis, and blood pressure testing.

If the test results come back confirming that your cat has seriously damaged kidneys, your friend might be put on a number of medications and supplements to raise potassium levels, promote kidney function, lower blood pressure, treat anemia, treat gastrointestinal ulcers, lower phosphorous levels and reduce vomiting.

Additionally, your cat may need to go on a special diet to promote kidney functions and reduce the biochemical abnormalities in the body that result from damaged kidneys. Though it will be a bit more expensive, you’ll most likely want to start feeding your cat canned food due to its high water content. In some extreme cases, supplemental fluids may also be given under the skin.

Going Beyond Easter Lilies

Though, at this time of year, you’ll most likely be asking yourself, “Are Easter lily plants poisonous to cats,” don’t forget that there are other types of lilies that can cause similar damage to your cat.

Among these are Asiatic, Japanese Show, rubrum, stargazer, red, tiger, Western, and wood lilies, which are all Lilium species. Additionally, daylilies (which are a Hemerocallis species), are also dangerous.

Final Thoughts: Are Easter Lily Plants Poisonous to Cats?

With Easter quickly approaching, it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your cat from eating Easter lilies or similarly dangerous plants. The best first step is to avoid purchasing these festive plants. There are plenty of other beautiful flower arrangements and potted plants that can give your home a taste of the joy of Spring without putting your furry friend at risk.

If your cat does start showing any of the signs of having ingested a toxin, you need to act immediately. Don’t delay seeking medical attention, as doing so could put your cat’s life at risk and increase the possibility of severe damage being done to his or her kidneys.

Even if it’s after your regular veterinarian’s office hours, you’ll want to seek help by calling our pet hospital or your nearest emergency veterinarian — as a cat ingesting a lily is considered a life-threatening situation.


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