Cats & Lilies: Avoid The Danger Lurking In Your Home

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Ahh, Those Beautiful 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.

Lilies are also extremely poisonous to cats. Ingesting any part of a lily plant, even in small quantities, can be lethal to a cat.

What are the symptoms of lily poisoning in cats?

These plants are considered to be nephrotoxic, i.e., affecting the kidneys. When a cat ingests even a small amount of lily petals, leaves or any other part of the plant (even pollen!) the toxic compounds enter its body and begin to poison the kidneys.

Some owners report initial vomiting and drooling following ingestion. Within 24 hours signs of kidney failure show up, with excessive urination followed by dehydration and a decrease in urine amounts, vomiting and lethargy. The prognosis is poor. Unless emergency medical care is provided within the first few hours, the cat may die within 3-6 days.

What to do if you suspect your cat ingested a piece of a lily?

If you suspect your cat has come in contact with lilies, call your vet immediately. This is a medical emergency. If your veterinarian is unavailable, call the nearest emergency clinic.

Let them know what happened and ask for advice. The vet may instruct you to induce vomiting as a preliminary step. He or she will also ask you to get the cat to the clinic right away to begin treatment. Do not delay treatment! If you do, the result will be a painful death for your cat.

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

Are all types of lilies toxic to cats?

Yes and no. There are many kinds of flowers that are commonly known as lilies but don’t really belong to the Lilium genus. Only members of the Lilium genus are “true lilies” and they are the ones most dangerous to cats. For example, the plant known as Calla Lily is not a true lily and belongs to genus Calla. Water lilies belong to the Nymphaeaceae family and are not a Lilium as well.

Confusing? It can be. If you are not a botanist, your safest bet is just to keep any plant with the word “lily” in its name away from your cat. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and after all, while other plants may not be as toxic as true lilies are, they can be toxic enough to get your cat sick or at least uncomfortable.

Popular kinds of lilies include Easter, Tiger, Day (Hemerocallis), Asiatic, Stargazer and Japanese show lilies.

How to keep your cat safe from lilies

It’s simple. Keep lilies – all lilies – out of your home.

Don’t bother with trying to assess each variety and type. If it’s a lily – it should not be in your home. Here are a few additional ideas –

  • Spread the word and let people know you want to keep lilies out of your home. Hopefully, they’ll keep this in mind if they want to send you flowers.
  • If you’re getting flowers from a regular florist, ask them to have it on your card that you do not want to ever get lilies in any flower arrangement.
  • Sending someone else flowers? Make sure there no lilies in the arrangements to keep their cats safe, too.

Think that your cats are safe because they never chew on house plants? Think again. Some cats only do that when they feel sick and with no other alternatives they may nibble a lily. Even without chewing, and even if you keep lilies out of Kitty’s reach, all it takes is for some pollen to fall off the plant and land somewhere it can easily get on your cat’s coat. If that happens, lily poison will be ingested during the next grooming session.

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 save the lives of cats. Every spring, cat owners bring lilies into their homes and innocent cats are harmed. Share this article to spread the information and help save a feline life.

20 comments on “Cats & Lilies: Avoid The Danger Lurking In Your Home

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!

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