According to pet health insurance product provider PetSure, 340 cats have been treated for lily toxicity in the past five years—and sadly, not all of them have survived the ordeal.
“The top three poisonous plants I see are the lily; Yesterday, today and tomorrow (Brunfelsia) and sago palm (Cycad),” said Dr Leigh Davidson, veterinarian and director of Your Vet Online.
Minke, a four-year-old house cat in Brisbane, Qld, nearly died recently after being poisoned by Easter lilies. Minke’s owner Elle would often bring home flower arrangements containing lilies.
But it was her neighbour’s property, which contained a large amount of the deadly flower, that ultimately poisoned Minke. Fortunately, Elle noticed her behaviour changing and quickly sought veterinary advice.
“All parts of the lily are toxic to cats including the flowers, leaves, pollen, bulbs and even the vase water,” Dr Davidson said.
“Sometimes, a cat will ingest a part of a lily and may experience some initial vomiting which then stops. Often, the cat will seem normal or maybe a little depressed. However, by 24 to 48 hours, damage to the kidneys has started.”
Cats that ingest any part of a lily suffer from acute kidney damage; their kidneys shut down and stop functioning. Many cats cannot be saved unless aggressive—and often expensive—treatment is started immediately. This involves intensive fluid therapy, ultrasound examinations, blood and urine testing.
Like many pet owners, Elle didn’t know that lilies were toxic to cats and when she reached out to other pet owners online, she realised she wasn’t the only one in the dark.
“It’s important that pet owners are aware how deadly these flowers can be to cats. Minke is lucky to be alive,” Dr Davidson said.