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Lilies are Toxic to Cats

Roses are red, Violets are blue, Some plants are toxic, So they might kill you…

At least if you eat them, which our cats might do.  Sure, we often see our cats chewing on plants, many of which may be harmless, or just cause some stomach upset.  But there are many other indoor and outdoor plants that may be quite harmful if ingested.  To minimize the potential for toxicity, it is best to be identify the type of plants inside or outside your home that your pet may have access to.  Local nurseries can help with identification, and the ASPCA Plant Identification site can be useful too.  http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants 
Eliminating exposure to anything potentially toxic is recommended.

However, especially around the holidays, new plants or flowers may be brought into the home.  These may be especially interesting to our pets, and care must be taken, as some plants can be extremely harmful.

One type of plant in particular that people should be aware of is Lily species  in cats.  All parts of these plants can be extremely toxic.  All species of Lilium  (true lilies) and Hemerocallis (day lilies) cause concern for potential kidney toxicity in cats.  Very small amounts  such as the pollen groomed off fur, or only part of 1 flower, can result in fatal complications in some cases.

Clinical signs can vary, but often start with excessive salivation, vomiting, and depression within minutes to hours after ingestion.  Subsequent signs may include increased urination transiently, followed by decreased urination as the kidneys shut down.  This kidney failure results in changes that cause progressive deterioration and death when untreated.

However, treatment with successful outcomes may be possible in some cases, especially when initiated early.  Evaluation of your cat by your veterinarian or an Emergency Clinic Silicon Valley Veterinary Specialists immediately is imperative.  Removal of the plant material, usually through inducing vomiting, is important if the ingestion was recent.  Activated charcoal may also be used to minimize absorption of toxin.  Continuous IV fluids at a 24 hour facility can be an essential component of treating these patients.  Once the disease advances to anuria (no urine output), traditional therapies are unlikely to be successful.  Dialysis (hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis) may need to be considered as the only remaining options, although prognosis may remain guarded to poor.

So – as Easter approaches, please keep lilies away from your cats.


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