Lilies are incredibly toxic to cats. Lily poisoning is one of the most common calls to poison control hotlines because its effects can be deadly.
If your cat eats a lily, here’s what to do next.
0 – 15 Minutes In: Assess the Urgency
All lily species are at least somewhat toxic to cats. Certain species, however, can cause death in a matter of days. If you suspect your cat has ingested a lily, the first order of business is to assess the urgency of the situation.
Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies are toxic to cats in that they contain crystals that can irritate cats’ mouths and stomachs. Ingesting these kinds of lilies can lead to drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and even foaming at the mouth, but the symptoms usually subside after a few hours.
Easter, stargazer, tiger, day, rubrum, Japanese Show, red, Western and wood lilies are all highly toxic and can lead to death. (Lily of the Valley plants can also lead to death, although they’re not technically lilies.) Symptoms of potentially-deadly lily poisoning include all the same symptoms as those that come from non-lethal species that quickly progress to more serious symptoms such as dehydration, lethargy, and even seizure.
15 Minutes – 1 Hour In: Rush to the Vet
If you have any indication your cat has consumed a lily – any part of the plant, from the petals to the leaves to the stem – rush him to the closest emergency veterinary clinic. Do not waste time inducing vomiting at home or trying to get your cat to drink water. A cat who has eaten lilies needs emergency medical treatment and the sooner that treatment is administered, the better the outcome.
If possible, bring a sample of the lily with you to the vet’s office so your vet can try and determine the type. This might help inform the course of action.
Remember that even a small amount of lily can cause poisoning! In some cases cats who aren’t displaying any of the typical signs of lily poisoning will vomit or cough up parts of the plant. If this is your first sign of something amiss (or even if you can’t be sure if the regurgitated matter is part of a lily), it’s best to go to the vet to check.
1 Hour – 2 Hours In: Treat the Toxins
Your vet will treat your cat first by stabilizing him. If he is at risk of seizures or dehydration, he’ll likely be administered fluids and/or IV medications. It’s possible the vet will use a tube and hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in your cat. From there, activated charcoal will be administered through the same tube to absorb as much remaining toxin as possible.
The long-term risk of lily poisoning is kidney failure. If the toxin was in your cat’s system for a long time, there’s a chance it did some irreversible damage to his kidneys. If this is suspected to be the case, your cat may need regular bloodwork and medication.