Lilies Deadly to Cats, Veterinarians Warn

April 3, 2009

Lilies, a floral reminder that winter has passed, frequently appear in homes during spring holidays as potted plants or cut flowers. But for cats, many lilies can be as lethal as they are lovely.

Members of the plant genus Lilium produce a chemical, present throughout the plant, that can cause a cat to suffer fatal . It can be deadly for a cat to simply bite into a lily leaf or petal, lick lily pollen from its paws, or drink water from a vase containing cut lilies. Easter lilies, stargazer lilies, and Asiatic lilies seem to be the most hazardous of this group of plants.

“Some appear to be more susceptible than others to lily toxicity, and the severity of the resulting kidney failure also varies from cat to cat,” said veterinarian Julie Fischer of the UC Veterinary Medical Center-San Diego. “Some poisoned cats recover with minimal therapy, while others require weeks of dialysis to live long enough for the kidneys to repair themselves.”

She noted that many cats never recover kidney function following lily toxicity and die, or are euthanized, within just a few days of becoming ill.

“Symptoms of lily poisoning include vomiting, lethargy or loss of appetite,” said UC Davis veterinary professor Larry Cowgill, co-director of the UC Veterinary Medical Center-San Diego “If cat owners suspect lily poisoning, they should contact their veterinarian immediately because a cat that has consumed the lily toxin very likely will experience kidney failure within 36 to 72 hours unless it receives appropriate treatment.”

The veterinarians note that while all plants of the Lilium genus should be considered extremely hazardous to cats, calla lilies and peace lilies, which don’t belong to the Lilium genus, are harmless to cats.

Provided by UC Davis

Explore further: Asthmatic cats may be allergic to people

Related Stories

Asthmatic cats may be allergic to people

October 27, 2005

Cats have long been blamed for causing human health problems, but now Scottish veterinarians say they've found humans can cause asthma attacks in cats.

Cats for those with an allergy

September 15, 2006

A San Diego company says it has begun breeding hypoallergenic cats, just the thing for anyone allergic to the animals.

Chemical combo linked to cat deaths

November 15, 2007

U.S. researchers say it appears it was the combination of two chemicals found in pet food recalled this year that caused animals to die.

Choosing Dry or Wet Food for Cats Makes Little Difference

November 29, 2007

Although society is accustomed to seeing Garfield-sized cats, obese, middle-aged cats can have a variety of problems including diabetes mellitus, which can be fatal. The causes of diabetes mellitus in cats remain unknown ...

Recommended for you

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...

New gene map reveals cancer's Achilles heel

November 25, 2015

Scientists have mapped out the genes that keep our cells alive, creating a long-awaited foothold for understanding how our genome works and which genes are crucial in disease like cancer.

How cells in the developing ear 'practice' hearing

November 25, 2015

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular ...

How cells 'climb' to build fruit fly tracheas

November 25, 2015

Fruit fly windpipes are much more like human blood vessels than the entryway to human lungs. To create that intricate network, fly embryonic cells must sprout "fingers" and crawl into place. Now researchers at The Johns Hopkins ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.