Cats and poisonous plants

National Poison Prevention Week is the third week in March each year – for 2012, the dates are March 18-24. In fact, it’s the 50th anniversary of the event that is designed to makes our homes safer and save lives. Most of the educational efforts are aimed at parents of small children, but pets are also very susceptible to accidental poisonings. And with Easter less than one month away, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the many plants that are poisonous to cats. At the top of this list are lilies (especially Lilium and Hemerocallis). In fact, lily toxicity is the leading poisoning reported in cats by the folks at the Pet Poison Helpline. Examples include Tiger and Day lilies, as well as Easter and Stargazer lilies, and many other varieties. All are highly toxic to cats – ingestion of a very small amount may cause serious illness or death by damaging kidney function. Even lily pollen and the water in a vase containing lilies can be toxic. Symptoms of lily poisoning include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression, lethargy, hiding
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration
  • Seizures, death

If you believe your cat has consumed any part of a lily, bring your cat and the plant to a veterinarian immediately. Aggressive treatment – decontamination, fluid therapy, etc. – may save your cat’s life.

Keep all lily plants out of the reach of your cat. A complete list of toxic and non-toxic plants can be found on the website of the Animal Poison Control Center.

An expert from the UK discusses lily poisoning in cats

For veterinarians: A comprehensive study of Easter lily poisoning in cats


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