Are lethal lilies lurking in your home and garden?

For gardeners, spring and summer is the time when all that hard work and effort pays off and you are rewarded with a garden bursting with colour. But for cat owners, heartache could be just around the corner.

We are a nation of cat lovers, the thousands of cat videos out on social media proves that. But unknown to many, some plants and flowers growing in gardens or sitting in vases on the table are poisonous to felines. And it won’t just be an upset tummy the cat will suffer from.

One flower which is highly toxic is the lily. This beautiful bloom can kill a cat if ingested either by eating or by pollen falling onto their coat before grooming. And it’s not just one variety that is lethal.

The small, almost unmissable, sticker on lilies you buy in your supermarket or florists will tell you it ‘can’ be damaging to cats. There is no ‘can’ about it. It will kill your cat. And not enough is done to get this message out there. And contrary to some belief, removing the pollen part of the lily won’t keep your cat safe as it’s not just pollen that’s the killer, it’s everything – the stem, the leaves, the petals. Ingesting any part can prove fatal.

The first signs of lily poisoning occurs within a few minutes to two hours with vomiting. This will subside but that doesn’t mean your cat is better. Within 24 and 72 hours toxins will start attacking the kidneys, leading to acute kidney failure.

Symptoms of lily poisoning are:

  • Vomiting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures

But even with veterinary attention there is no guarantee that your cat will survive. And even if they do they could have lasting kidney damage which could lead to them having to be put to sleep. There is no specific antidote to lily poisoning and unfortunately, if the cat does not receive immediate treatment, not much can be done.

If you’re a cat owner the best way is to not have any type of lily in your house or garden. Certain varieties aren’t toxic but unless you know for a fact which ones are safe it’s just not worth the risk.

Cats are curious creatures and great explorers and you can’t watch them 24 hours a day. If you do notice any of the symptoms be sure they receive immediate veterinary care.

With lilies, time is the enemy, you must act quickly.​

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