Yes, they are and pose a grave danger to cats if ingested and no intervention is taken to treat and remove the toxins before it gets worse. As the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat, it is their nature to be curious and inquisitive. It is a feline personality. They might be drawn to the stargazing bouquet of lilies or a cluster of daylilies in your garden and they may not resist tasting some because of curiosity.
After all, lilies are present around the world, and is lovely to keep them in your home, but cats and lilies aren’t the same way. Why? Lilies pose a safety threat to cats. True lilies and daylilies are the worst families that pose a great danger to our felines. The entire parts of a lily plant are toxic for cats, from flowers to the water in the vase. If they lick any part of this plant by chance, whether pollen or even water in the vase, it can lead to kidney failure, and fatality happens in 3 days. The same toxin that affects only cats is yet to be identified because if a dog ingests lilies, it only causes mild stomach upsets but no kidney failure.
Early clinical signs of lily toxicity in cats include reduced activity level, vomiting, drooling, and disinterest in food. These symptoms are seen within 12 hours of ingestion. Kidney damage is seen between 12 and 24 hours of ingestion where increased urination and rapid dehydration is experienced. Total kidney failure happens within 24 and 72 hours of ingestion if no treatment is given to cats. Early treatment will improve the cat’s prognosis while delay for over 18 hours will lead to irreversible kidney failure.
For the threats lilies pose to cats, it is only reasonable to avoid bringing them home if you have a cat. Also if you know your neighbor has a cat, kindly don’t plant them in your flower gardens as a sign of goodwill.
Other toxic lilies for cats
Other plants that have lily, but not from true lily or daylily may be dangerous but do not cause kidney failures in cats. Lily-of-the-valley or flame lilies are some of those that cause serious problems to cats and dogs but not kidney failures. Lily-of-the-valley, for example, contains toxins that cause the heart to beat abnormally. It can be life-threatening though. Signs of toxicity in lily-of-the-valley are vomiting, diarrhea, and body weakness. The roots of gloriosa lily contain toxins that may cause multi-organ failure in dogs and cats.
Harmless lilies for cats or dogs
Calla lilies and peace lilies are the only ones that contain insoluble calcium crystals meaning they don’t dissolve in water. When ingested, the crystals are released into the mouth directly and irritate the tongue, mouth, throat, and esophagus. Signs include; pawing because of the pain in the mouth, drooling, vocalizing, foaming, vomiting, and diarrhea. The good thing is that these signs will fade away slowly on their own and no need for treatment. Breathing issues may be experienced due to swellings in the mouth and respiratory tract.
Peruvian lily causes mild stomach upsets if ingested in large amounts. The signs are vomiting and diarrhea but these signs fade away slowly on their own. Peruvian lily might easily be mistaken for a smaller version of true lily but won’t cause kidney failure in felines.
If your cat ingested any part of a true lily or daylily, it is only reasonable to call the vet or the poison center immediately. Further delay reduces the chances of saving your cat. Also, bring along with you the variety of lilies ingested to make it easy for the vet to treat your cat.
Treatment involves inducing vomiting, giving them activated charcoal to absorb any toxins along the gut, and a high volume of fluid (IV) to keep dehydration at bay and to prevent kidney shutdown. The fluid under IV will be given for 1 to 2 days while monitoring kidneys and urination patterns. If no urine is produced, it is a sign that the treatment was unsuccessful while if urination is evident, the treatment was a success.
If treatment is successful, there will be nothing to further worry about. Only continue with the management, especially how often your cat urinates, and report to your vet for analysis and progress. And when everything is restored to normal, your cat can be free to live as usual. In case of further complications, refer your cat to a vet for further treatment and condition management.
If possible, do not bring lilies to your home, even cut flowers. And if you can’t, take extra care of your cats and let every member of your family know about the dangers lilies cause to cats, and let everyone be responsible for keeping cats away from this plant. You can keep them hanging where cats can’t access them.
If grown in the flower garden with other plants, cats can’t chew lilies when there are better alternatives like catnip, but it is safe not to grow lilies in your flower yard.
Here is a list of toxic lilies to steer far from if you are a cat parent. The most toxic lilies for cats are found in the genus of Lilium and Hemerocallis. If you are a pet parent don’t try the following;
- Asiatic lily
- Day lily
- Peace lily
- Easter lily
- Japanese Show lily
- Stargazer lily
- Tiger lily
- Rubrum lily
- Wood lily
Alternatively, you can have the following list of flowers in place of lilies if you are a cat parent and love flowers like most of us in our homes:
- Blue Daisy
- Persian Violet
- Snap Dragon
- Gerber Daisy
- Star Jasmine
Now that you know lilies flowers are a no-go-to for cat parents, avoid them and use alternatives given because even diligent cat parents sometimes face troubles with their cats. Cats are witty and you never know when or how they will be troublesome.