Even if your pet isn't a plant-eater, keeping lilies around the house is a health hazard for your furry friend. Easter lilies and other members of the Lilium genus, including hybrid lilies, are toxic to felines. Eating even a little bit of these plants makes most cats sick.
Types of Toxic Lilies
All species and hybrids of Lilium flowers contain toxins harmful to cats, including popular varieties like Amaryllis, Easter lilies, and Stargazer lilies. Unfortunately, other types of lilies are not safe alternatives. Daylilies, members of the Hemerocallis genus, and Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) are also potentially deadly for felines. Peace, Peruvian and Calla lilies are mildly toxic, but do not cause severe kidney problems like Lilium species do.
Lily Toxicity and Symptoms
Cats unlucky enough to taste-test the stems, leaves or flowers of a Lilium plant start showing signs of illness within a few hours. Lilies upset your cat's stomach at first, making her vomit and avoid food. These symptoms may go away for a while until the toxins start damaging her kidneys roughly ten hours after ingestion. The poison can seriously harm the kitty's kidneys after roughly 18 hours, at which point the damage is usually irreversible. Some cats are particularly sensitive to the lily toxin, so even a few bites of the plant is an emergency situation for your pet.
If you have a kitty or two running around the house, the safest choice is to avoid lilies altogether. Decorate your home with cat-safe flowers like Easter daisies, orchids or violets instead. Keep your cat indoors to prevent her from munching on the neighbor's flowers when you aren't looking. While you can hang lilies and other plants in hanging pots from the ceiling, this is not a safe method even if they are out of your cat's reach. All parts of the lily plant are toxic including dying leaves and stems that fall to the floor.
Don't hesitate to take your cat to the vet or animal hospital if you think she's eaten a lily or another poisonous plant. While veterinary researchers are still unsure exactly why lilies are so dangerous for cats, there's no doubt that it doesn't take much of it to poison your kitty. If your vet believes that your pet is in danger, he may force her to vomit or feed her activated charcoal to nullify the toxins in her stomach. She may also need fluid therapy if the poison has started to impact her kidneys.
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