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Lovely Lilies and Curious Cats: A Dangerous Combination




Cats are curious creatures by nature. They love to play, jump, and roam around the house or yard, but sometimes their inquisitive personalities get the best of them. They’re just drawn to that beautiful bouquet of stargazer lilies on your kitchen table or the colorful cluster of daylilies in your garden.


Lilies are extremely popular around the world and are commonly seen in garden beds and borders and in bouquets. While their flowers are lovely to see and smell, lilies pose a significant safety threat for your cat.


Lilies in the “true lily” and “daylily” families are very dangerous for cats. The entire lily plant is toxic: the stem, leaves, flowers, pollen, and even the water in a vase. Eating just a small amount of a leaf or flower petal, licking a few pollen grains off its fur while grooming, or drinking the water from the vase can cause your cat to develop fatal kidney failure in less than 3 days. The toxin, which only affects cats, has not been identified. Dogs that eat lilies may have minor stomach upset but they don’t develop kidney failure.


Early signs of lily toxicity in cats include decreased activity level, drooling, vomiting, and loss of appetite. These symptoms start 0 to 12 hours after ingestion. Signs of kidney damage start about 12 to 24 hours after ingestion and include increased urination and dehydration. Kidney failure occurs within 24 to 72 hours, leading to death if the cat isn’t treated. Early veterinary treatment greatly improves the cat’s prognosis. However, if treatment is delayed by 18 hours or more after ingestion, the cat will generally have irreversible kidney failure.

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