Look Out for Lillies: Toxicity to Cats

With the spring holidays of Easter, Passover, and Mother’s Day approaching, I want to inform you of a national campaign to raise the awareness of lily toxicity to cats. This is especially pertinent as the recent AVMA survey shows Vermont tops in the nation for cat ownership with almost 50% of households having at least one cat.

All parts of the lily, including pollen are toxic to cats and cause sudden severe kidney failure and death, if not treated promptly. Even cats with seemingly minor exposure such as biting a leaf or getting pollen on his or her whiskers or hair coat can be fatally poisoned. We don’t know why cats are attracted to lilies, but cats of all ages are affected. It is especially tragic when young kittens, who like to chew on everything, are affected.

Signs of lily toxicity occur within 24-72 hours of exposure and include vomiting, depression, anorexia, and dehydration. Cats treated within 18 hours of exposure generally have a good prognosis. Even if exposure is not certain, the cat should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Animal Poison control reports that the number of cases of feline toxicities by lilies increases each year.

If you are ordering flowers for relatives and friends for the spring holidays (or any time of year), make sure that they specifically request “no lilies” in the bouquets or arrangements that are going to homes with cats. Even the on-line floral delivery services have the option of making special requests.

          For more information including handouts for clients, FAQs, and what you can do to help, go to www.noliliesforcats.com.