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CNBNews Pet Tips: Lilies Can Kill Cats

Lilies are a common fixture in garden beds, yards, and bouquets this time of year. What many people do not know is the health risk that these flowers hold for curious cats. BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, which has more than 100 practices across 29 U.S. states, have seen an approximate 85% increase in pets with lily toxicity in April and May as compared to other months.
 
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If cats ingest even a small amount of a plant leaf or flower petal, lick pollen grains off fur while grooming, or drink the water from a bouquet vase containing lilies, they can develop fatal kidney failure. Dogs that have ingested a lily or parts of the plant may experience stomach upset but will not develop kidney failure. Of the close to 1,000 patients seen at BluePearl for lily ingestion since 2018, only four have been canines. Amid the spring season, and with Mother's Day just around the corner, BluePearl Pet Hospital is educating pet owners on the dangers that lilies pose to cats and urging them to take preventative measures.
 
Here's what cat owners should know
 
Many members of the lily family are toxic to cats, with “true lily” and “daylily” families posing as the most significant safety threats. The most dangerous lilies for cats include:
  • Asiatic lily (including hybrids)
  • Daylily
  • Easter lily 
  • Japanese Show lily 
  • Oriental lily 
  • Rubrum lily
  • Stargazer lily
  • Tiger lily 
  • Wood lily
Early signs of lily toxicity include lethargy, drooling, loss of appetite, and vomiting. It is important to note that vomiting typically can resolve without treatment within two to six hours but this does not necessarily mean the cat has recovered. As the condition progresses, kidney damage and even death can occur. Various treatments are available, including decontamination (charcoal therapy), IV therapy, and hemodialysis and total plasma exchange (offered at select BluePearl locations); however, prognosis and outcome is determined on a case by case basis.
 
Because lilies are so dangerous and there is a substantial risk of death if they are eaten, it is best to avoid bringing these plants into homes or planting them in gardens. This is particularly important if a cat or a neighbor’s cat is let outdoors. If lilies are brought in a home where there is a cat present, ensure the cat cannot reach them by keeping the flowers in an inaccessible room and inform everyone in the household of the dangers lilies pose to the cat.
 
If a cat has eaten any part of a lily or has drunk vase water that contains lilies, it is important pet owners do not wait to seek veterinary care. If possible, bring the lily plant or a piece of the plant with you to the practice or take a picture to show the veterinarian upon arrival. This will help the medical team determine the severity of the toxin and best course of treatment. 
 
If you would like to learn more about lily toxicity and cats as Mother's Day approaches, please let me know. I'd be happy to connect you with a local emergency veterinarian for commentary. 
 

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