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Why are lilies extremely toxic to cats?

Article ID: 667
Last updated: 22 May, 2018
Revision: 11
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Various plants are toxic and potentially fatal to cats. Check with your veterinarian first before your cats have access to any plants. 

Lilies (Lilium spp and Hemerocallis spp) are extremely toxic to cats and can kill them.

The entire plant is toxic. Ingesting any part of the plant can cause complete kidney failure in 36-72 hours. The toxicity may occur by ingestion of, or by mouthing, very small amounts of lily material. 

Owners should make sure their cats never have access to Lilies of any kind.

Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting (often contains pieces of lily) and,
  • Signs associated with kidney failure including disinterest in food, lethargy, depression and no urination.

If your cat has had access to a lily plant take them to your nearest vet immediately (even if you didn’t see your cat contact the plant or if you just suspect they may have had access to lilies).

The key to successful treatment is early recognition of possible ingestion and veterinary management of the ensuing kidney failure.

There are some excellent resources including a printable poster available here from a Sydney florist.

Please also see the linked articles below for more information about poisonous plants.

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Also read
folder Where can I find out about plants that might be poisonous for my pets?
folder What garden dangers must I protect my pet from?

Also listed in
folder Companion animals -> Cats -> Basic care and cat health
folder Companion animals -> Cats -> Living indoors
folder Companion animals -> House and garden dangers

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