Lilies and the Threat to Your Cat’s Life

Ah, The Bewitching Beauty of Lilies

Everyone knows and loves lilies. The official Latin name of this group of plants is Lilium. It includes dozens of types of lilies, all of which have captivating floral displays.

Lilies are so beautiful that they have inspired phrases such as "to gild the lily", meaning to decorate something that is pleasing in its original state.

It's no wonder they're often a popular choice at garden supplies stores - where they are sold as bulbs - and florists' shops, where they are sold in full bloom, on their own or as part of glamorous flower arrangements.

Unseen Danger: Lilies and the Threat to Your Cat's Life

Lilies carry a deadly secret for our feline friends. These beautiful blossoms are extremely toxic to cats. Even a nibble on any part of the plant, small as it may be, could spell disaster.

Busting the Myths: Truths about Cats and Lilies

Despite the widespread knowledge of lily toxicity in cats, myths persist.

One common misconception is that only certain parts of the lily plant are toxic. This is false. Each piece of a lily, from its roots to its pollen, is a potential health hazard for a cat.

Another myth? The idea is that a cat must eat a large amount of lily to fall sick. Not true. In reality, even a tiny amount - a single petal, a lick of pollen - can set off fatal kidney damage in cats.

In the world of cats and lilies, there's no room for half-truths. Understanding these facts could mean the difference between life and death for your beloved pet.

Unraveling the Mystery: Why are Lilies Deadly for Cats?

The danger lilies pose to cats lies in the toxic compounds they contain. These compounds, found in every part of the lily - from the petals to the pollen - are highly harmful to cats.

Once ingested, they quickly enter the cat's bloodstream and head straight to the kidneys. Here, they wreak havoc, causing rapid and often irreversible damage.

The precise nature of these toxic substances is still under investigation, but what is clear is their devastating effect on feline health.

Decoding Lily Poisoning: The Red Flags

Lilies are nephrotoxic, meaning they pack a punch to the kidneys. Here's the grim picture: your cat nibbles on some lily - petals, leaves, even pollen. Those toxins go straight to work, wreaking havoc on the kidneys.

How does it play out? Initial signs may include vomiting and drooling soon after the fateful nibble. Within a day, kidney failure signs emerge. Excessive urination. Dehydration. Decreased urine amounts. More vomiting. Lethargy.

The outlook isn't good. Unless treated within hours, a cat may succumb to this poison within 3-6 days.

Lurks a silent threat in your home? Read on to keep your cat safe from this unseen danger.

Emergency Response: When Your Cat Crosses Paths with a Lily

The moment you suspect your cat has nibbled on a lily, ring up your vet. There's no time to waste - this is a red-alert medical emergency. If your vet is not available, dial the nearest emergency clinic without delay.

Don't hesitate to fill them in on the situation and ask for advice. Your vet might tell you to induce vomiting, a vital first step.

The next step is getting your cat to the clinic immediately for treatment. Procrastination here can lead to a painful demise for your feline friend.

Read more here: What To Do If You Think Your Cat Ingested Poison

Lilies: A Silent Assassin in Disguise

Are all lilies a threat to your cat? The answer is yes and no. Plenty of flowers known as lilies don't truly belong to the Lilium genus. Only "true lilies" from the Lilium genus pose the greatest risk to cats.

For instance, the Calla Lily falls under the genus Calla, not a real lily. Similarly, Water lilies belong to the Nymphaeaceae family, not Lilium.

Sounds complicated? If you're not a botanist, simply keep any plant named "lily" away from your cat. While other plants may not be as deadly as true lilies, they can still make your cat sick. Better safe than sorry.

Some common lilies include Easter, Tiger, Day (Hemerocallis), Asiatic, Stargazer, and Japanese show lilies.


A Lily-Free Haven: Protecting Your Cat

Want to keep your cat safe? The rule of thumb is simple. Keep your home a lily-free zone.

Don't try to differentiate between lily varieties. If it's a lily, it doesn't belong in your house. Here's how to keep your home lily-free:

  • Spread the word. Let people know you're avoiding lilies at home. They'll hopefully remember when they send you flowers.
  • Make it a point to ask your regular florist to note on your card that you don't want lilies in any arrangement.
  • Sending flowers? Ensure there are no lilies in the arrangement to protect their cats too.

Thinking your cat is safe because they don't munch on houseplants? Beware. Some cats chew on plants only when they're sick. Even without chewing, pollen falling off a lily can land on your cat's coat. The next grooming session ensures ingestion of lily poison.

Having lilies around your home is simply not safe. Ever. If you have any, today is the day for you to put on a pair of gloves and get rid of them.

There are other safe plant alternatives, and if you absolutely need them as part of your home decor, opt for these safe and toxin-free silk lilies.

Please Help Spread The Word.

Help us in our mission to protect cats from the hidden peril of lilies. Every spring, innocent cats suffer as lilies enter homes. Share this article to spread the word and save a cat's life.


You might also want to read:

Are Sunflowers Toxic To Cats?

Cat Grass: How To Create The Purrfect Garden For Your Cat

Note: We may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page.

21 comments on “Lilies and the Threat to Your Cat’s Life

snowpawprint April 23, 2018
Good article as always!:dancingblackcat:
angels mommy April 6, 2018
I just took a quick look at that ASPCA list, & interesting that catnip is on it. Anyone have any feedback on that? Weird...
angels mommy April 6, 2018
@fivecatlove, Thanks for the heads up on dafodils. I love them, & always think, " I have to remember to plant some in the fall." But now that I know that, I wont! Although Sammie doesn't munch on plants, I wouldn't want to take any chances!
daisyd April 2, 2018
I’ve stopped buying any plants or flower for the home as I’m not sure what is safe !
betsygee March 26, 2018
Shared! Thanks for the reminder.
fivecatlove April 10, 2017
Don't forget about the daffodil it also is part of the lily family, and that's how I lost my cat. I never grow them in the yard or bring them into the house anymore
sargon September 27, 2016
the ASPCA has an excellent list of both toxic and non toxic plants for cats (also ones for dogs and horses)   I knew some plants were toxic, so I looked it up before getting my kitten, and quite a few plants needed to be re-homed, due to being mildly toxic to cats.    Fortunately, there are plenty of great plants that won't harm cats, such as Christmas cacti, most palms ( Sago palm is a notorious exception, although it isn't a true palm, as I recall), and ferns.
foxxycat June 18, 2016
i pulled up all the lilies in my yard. even if they dont nibble on them i dont care. Foxglove is another flower that is toxic to kitties. its toxic to people too. 
nklfrank June 15, 2016
...i have lilies in my garden. i feed several ferals. they love to sleep in the garden but they pay no attention to the flowers...for that matter they pay no attention to the catnip growing out there either.....this is good information tho and i'll keep a better watch on them...i posted it on facebook too...thanks!
tarasgirl06 June 13, 2016
They've never been a problem in our yard.  If you happen to touch them and get any pollen on you, wash it off completely right away.  It shouldn't be an issue otherwise.
catiebc June 13, 2016
There are no lilies inside my home, but they do grow in the front yard. Is that still considered a big risk? I never touch them or go near them.
tarasgirl06 June 9, 2016
@AMFG my heartfelt condolences for the loss of your precious little Oliver!  Yes, the "experts" have certainly dropped the ball on what REALLY matters, so we have to be proactive.  Fortunately, we have an amazing wealth of knowledge via the internet and  
Anne June 9, 2016
@AMFG I am so sorry about your poor little Oliver. My condolences. I truly hope this article will help prevent this to other cats. {{hugs}} @Davey definitely a topic for a future article! I've added it to my lists. We have quite a few articles dealing with safety issues and this would be a good addition. You can also start a thread about it in the Cat Care forum and I'm sure others can help with answers until then. 
amfg June 9, 2016
I have suffered the consequences of brings an arrangement with tiger lilies in the house last Easter.  I lost my 6 month kitten and guilt I live with is unbearable.  I wish veterinarians, breeders and more sites would warn cat owners.  I miss my baby Oliver each day and the sight of lilies brings painful memories.
donutte June 8, 2016
I won't even bring lilies in my car. My mom wanted me to pick up a lily plant for our neighbor across the street, but the fear of lily pollen getting all over freaked me out. After losing two kitties to kidney disease recently - both of whom went through acute on chronic renal failure (unrelated to lilies) - I don't want to even chance it.
tarasgirl06 June 7, 2016
Davey, you can input that question into your computer's search engine to obtain that information; I'm pretty sure it is available here on the site, too, if you input it into the site's searchbox.
davey June 7, 2016
wow! I told mom. Hey what other plants might we have growing outside that could harm cats? I may post that question...
tarasgirl06 June 7, 2016
Our house rule is: NO plants except the "silk" variety (or some ancient plastic ones: long story).  We have some sword plant and jade planet in the kitchen bay window, but no one ever gets up there.
kurdis June 7, 2016
cassiopea June 7, 2016
Good to know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *