Lily Toxicity and Cats: What Owners Need to Know

Dr. Jacqueline Brister

lily poisoning in cats

Are lilies poisonous?

Lillies, such as the Easter lily, tiger lily, rubrum lily, Japanese show lily, stargazer lily, and day lily, are toxic or poisonous to cats. All parts of the lily, including the leaves, petals, and bulb are toxic. Even the pollen from a lily or the water in the lily’s vase can be poisonous.

What will happen if my cat eats part of a lily plant?

Eating even just a few bites of a lily plant can cause a cat’s kidneys to shut down, a condition known as acute renal failure. Within the first 2-12 hours after eating part of a lily plant, your kitty may throw up or vomit, not want to eat, and will lay around more than usual. As the renal failure worsens, you may notice your cat drinks excessively and goes to the bathroom more often. He or she may be wobbly when walking, tremble, have tremors, or have seizures. Once the kidneys completely shut down, the kidneys won’t produce urine any more so your cat may stop drinking, eating, and going to the bathroom.

What should I do if my cat ate lilies?

Go to your veterinarian immediately. If your cat recently ate part of a lily plant, your vet may try to get your cat to vomit so less of the toxins found in lily plants can affect the kidneys. The vet may also give medication to help absorb some of these toxins. Your kitty will likely need several lab tests, including blood work and examination of the urine (ie, urinalysis) both before and after treatment to ensure the kidneys are working correctly. Hospitalization with intravenous (IV) fluids for several days is a common treatment to flush the toxins out of the system and keep the kidneys working normally.

Can my cat die from eating lilies?

Unfortunately, yes. The amount of lily plant needed to cause acute renal failure is very small. The sooner you are able to get your cat to the vet after he or she has eaten a lily, the better your cat’s chances are. If you are even remotely suspicious that your cat ate lilies, get treatment as soon as possible. Even cats who recover don’t always recover fully and must deal with long-term kidney damage, also known as chronic renal failure.

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