With Valentine’s Day and Easter approaching soon, it is a good time to remind yourself NOT to have lilies in the house (or garden) if you own cats (or, more accurately, you are your cat’s butler).

Lilies are not a problem for dogs, but it is vital that cats do not come into contact with these plants.

All parts of the plant represent a poisoning risk to cats- the flowers, the leaves, the stems, the pollen, even the water in which cut flowers have been standing. We have reports of cats who have died from playing with the empty box in which lilies had been delivered. Cutting the stamens (which are the parts of the plant with the pollen) will not safeguard your cat.

Why are lilies toxic to cats?

It is unclear what the toxin is in lilies, but it damages the cells in the kidneys and causes kidney failure.

What will you see if your cat has lily poisoning?

If your cat IS exposed to any part of a lily, there is usually vomiting, drooling, weakness and depression, all within 1-6 hours.

Without any treatment, the cat will become dehydrated, stop eating, be in great pain and may even have seizures. Death usually occurs 2-3 days after lily exposure.

What can you do?

Any pollen on your cat’s fur should be immediately washed off with lots of water- this will prevent the cat from grooming and ingesting the pollen.

However, it is vital that you get veterinary advice and treatment.

If you are concerned that your cat may have been exposed to lilies, either call your vet immediately or call Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000. One of our veterinary poisons specialists will be able to give you advice.  We are always here 24 hours a day to help you and your pets.

 Animal PoisonLine’s top tips to prevent lily poisoning:

  1. Keep cats away from lilies at all times
  2. Tell other cat owners to not have cut lilies in their houses or grow them in the garden
  3. Be aware how dangerous lilies are and get advice IMMEDIATELY if your cat has contact with them. The sooner a cat is treated, the better the outcome
  4. Fill your house with roses instead!