Lily Poisoning – a close shave for Rocky and a warning to all cat owners.

Thankfully Rocky has made a full recovery this week but we thought it was important to warn you of the risks of Lily poisoning to cats. Rocky is your typical 7 month old Bengal cat – into everything, very inquisitive and playful. Unfortunately for him this resulted in a very risky encounter with a bunch of flowers.  Sounds innocent enough but what most people don’t realise is that all members of the Lily family are fatally toxic to cats. day lilyThe lily plants of greatest concern are any from the genus Lilium (Lilium sp.), which includes Easter lilies, tiger lilies, and Asiatic lilies, and any from the genus Hemerocallis (Hemerocallis sp.), which includes day lilies.  Due to their lovely scent they are extremely common in most flower arrays. Within the lily is a chemical which causes fatal nephrotoxicity to cats – in other words life threatening kidney damage.  Cats do not have to eat the whole flower, stem or leaf.  The poison is also present in the brightly coloured staining pollen contained within the stamens. The effects are very serious and very fast. Only a very small amount needs to be eaten to cause devastating effects. Unfortunately kittens are most susceptible, not only because of their size but also because of their natural curiosity and tendency to investigate everything. In Rocky’s case he had brushed up against the beautiful blooms and covered his nose and right front leg in lily pollen.  Being a typical fastidiously tidy cat he immediately set about cleaning himself, licking the pollen off his hair and thus ingesting it. Rocky’s owners immediately rang the practice for advice as they had heard from our previous news letters about poisoning in cats.  We advised them to shower Rocky off immediately to remove as much of the pollen as possible and then bring him straight to the surgery. Poor old Rocky, all wet and thoroughly miserable arrived at the surgery very quickly. He was then given an injection to make him vomit the bright orange pollen and the last of the staining on his nose and paw were cleaned off.  Thankfully he had not ingested any of the plant itself but had a lot of the pollen in his vomit.  Once he had finished being sick we then started emergency intravenous fluids to help ‘flush’ any toxins already absorbed to try and limit any kidney damage.  In addition he was also syringe fed liquid activated charcoal to remove any toxins that had not been eliminated in his vomit. Thankfully due to quick thinking on his owners behalf and immediate veterinary treatment Rocky has passed his blood test today with normal renal function. Many cats that experience lily poisoning are not so lucky.  If the worst happens they first begin to show signs of severe vomiting but may also show loss of appetite, depression, salivation, twitching or collapse. Sadly, a high number of them will die due to irreversible kidney damage. Others will survive but have permanent kidney damage. Only a lucky few will survive without long-lasting effects. rocky - the lily cat Thankfully Rocky is one of the few who will live to tell the tale – as you can see from his photo taken at home today he is fully recovered and enjoying being back at home.  Even so his sister is giving him a hard time for coming home and ‘smelling funny’! Not a good week for the poor boy! We would advise if you have cats, do not have lilies in your house, not even as cut flowers. If you do have lilies in the house, make sure your cat cannot reach them and inform everyone in your household of the dangers lilies pose if ingested.  Trimming off the stamens will reduce the risk of pollen but remember the whole plant is poisonous. If you are ever in doubt it is always better to be safe than sorry and we would recommend contacting us immediately if you even suspect that your cat may have ingested a lily on 01483 455355.