Are lilies poisonous to cats?

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Do you have a cat in your household? Please use EXTREME caution when bringing in flowers, bouquets, and new plants into your cat-friendly household. Easter lilies are extremely poisonous to cats, and just 1-2 leaves (or even the pollen) can kill a cat! Even small ingestions can result in severe kidney failure.

Sources of poisoning: Many plants of the Lilium and Hemerocallis species are very poisoning. Commonly known as the Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter, or Japanese Show lily, these plants result in severe acute kidney failure.

Mechanism of action: The exact toxin has not been identified, but is known to be water soluble. All parts of the plant – the leaf, pollen, stem, flower are considered poisonous. Kidney damage (specifically, renal tubular necrosis) occurs within 24-72 hours of ingestion.

Common signs of poisoning: Signs of poisoning often develop within 6-12 hours of exposure. Early signs include vomiting, inappetance, lethargy, and dehydration. Untreated, signs worsen as acute kidney failure develops, and signs of not urinating or urinating too frequently, not drinking or excessive thirst, and inflammation of the pancreas may be seen with lily poisoning. Rarer signs include walking drunk, disorientation, tremors, and even seizures.

Antidote and treatment: There is not antidote for lily poisoning. That said, prompt veterinary attention is necessary. The sooner you bring in your cat, the better and more efficiently your veterinarian can treat the poisoning. Decontamination (like inducing vomiting and giving drugs like activated charcoal to bind the poison in the stomach and intestines) are imperative in the early toxic stage, while aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, kidney function monitoring tests, and supportive care can greatly improve the prognosis. IV fluids need to be started, ideally, within 18 hours for the best prognosis for your cat.

Threat: Just 2-3 leaves, or even the pollen groomed off the fur, can result in poisoning in a cat. If untreated, acute kidney failure will develop and be fatal. Thankfully, lily poisoning doesn’t cause kidney failure in dogs, but if a large amount is ingested, it can result in some gastrointestinal signs in our canine friends.

What about other types of lilies? Other types of lilies like Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies don’t cause deadly kidney failure, but they also can be mildly poisonous too, as they contain oxalate crystals which result in tissue irritation to the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and esophagus – resulting in minor drooling. If your cat is seen consuming any part of a lily, bring your cat (and the plant) immediately to a veterinarian for medical care.

Published on September 22, 2011
Categorized under: Pet Safety Tips

49 Responses to “Are lilies poisonous to cats?”

  1. Benee says:

    My cat ate parts of 8 leaves on an Easter lily. As soon as we realized she had eaten them and before she showed any symptoms we called poison control and took her to vet hospital. She was given lots of fluids via IV and put on a few meds. After 2 days she was able to come home and is her happy healthy self again.

  2. Dawn says:

    Thanks for the comment Benee, this made me feel a lot better. My cat is being treated right now on two-day course of fluids via IV. We got her to the vet within a couple of hours of evidence that she’d been nibbling at a tiger lily from our garden that I unknowingly brought into the house. They put her on IV right away and after we found that she had thrown up three small parts of leaves so at least they were out of her system. We are hoping her blood test this aft will be good and she will be home tonight.

  3. Ricky says:

    We made a move to a new town a few weeks ago bringing along our two cats and a dog. A few days ago unknowing about te dangers perchesed some pink and white Lilly’s for our kitchen table. Yesterday about 10:30 am I noticed that our 12 year old cat Sophie had the pollen on her face and that a small potion of a flower pettle had chewed. I wiped all of the pollen off of her and it didnt look like there were any signs of her cleaning it of of her. We have been keeping a close eye on her ever since we seen this while looking Lilly’s toxicity to cats. She has not shown any signs of posioning. Is there any chance that she may be okay? She seems to still be her self.

    • When in doubt, ALWAYS call our 800-213-6680 phone number, as these comments are not managed by a veterinarian! The sooner a poisoning is diagnosed, the easier, less expensive and safer it is to treat your pet.

  4. Richard says:

    My son’s muted calico Gracie died after eating leaves of a lily. Even the vet did not know about lily poisoning. I noticed that she was lethargic and took her to our vet. He tried everything but we lost her five days later. I spoke to local flower shops about lily toxicity. Some were sympathetic but most were not. I have never seen grief as heartbreaking when I told my son his kitty was gone.

  5. ED H. says:

    What species of lily to be exact? And in looking for scientific nomenclature… no general names like easter lily…

    • Hi Ed,
      For the scientific names of the lilies, please look in our Poison List. When you’ve opened up a poison, you’ll find the scientific names under “alternate names.” You can also try searching for them in our search box.
      Pet Poison Helpline

    • Justin says:

      Lilies of the genus Lilium and Hemerocallis spp.

  6. Briana says:

    What about just the petals both my lynx cats got caught chewing on them none of the yellow steamen or leaves. But I am worried FYI they seem absolutely fine just I’m leaving for a 12 nursing shift and won’t be home… Going to put the arrangement in a locked room just in case. Peace of mind would be greatly appreciated

  7. [...] information about lily toxicosis in cats, please see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21147474, http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/2011/09/are-lilies-poisonous-to-cats/, or, if you would like materials for your veterinarian’s office please [...]

  8. [...] All parts of the lily are toxic too—flowers, leaves, stems, bulb, even the pollen from the stamens, so prominent in those Easter lilies. Look at the stamens in the photo of the lily at left—what self-respecting kitty wouldn’t go in for a thorough inspection of those? [...]

  9. Olivia says:

    BRIANA: I hope your cats are OK! ANY part of the Lily can be poisonous.

  10. Georgia says:

    My poor cat sandy ate lily leaves on Saturday. I didn’t know they were toxic. She started throwing up Monday. I took her to the vet yesterday after learning about lilies being lethal to cats. She is on IV fluids but has yet to urinate. She is still alert and did drink a little water while i was there today. She has not eaten yet though. I pray she will be ok. She is my everything.

    • Hi Georgia,
      We too hope that Sandy will recover. Thank you for sharing your story and for spreading the word about lily toxicity. If you ever need our advice or help, do not hesitate to call.
      Best,
      Pet Poison Helpline

  11. Nikki Goebel says:

    My cat, Fat Boy, ate the tip of a lily leaf on Monday. I got him to the vet within two hours and they made him throw up and gave him charcoal. I took him home that night. The next evening we went back in for blood work and the vet found that some levels were elevated, indicating lily toxicity. The started him on IV fluids immediately. They tested his blood again last night and found that the levels rose again. Apparently the levels may spike a day or two after ingestion. He’s still on fluids and they’ll test his blood again tonight. I see now that IV fluids are recommended within 18 hours of ingestion. I’m very suprised that the vet let me take him home that first night. Now I’m worried that it’s too late as the fluids didn’t start for 24 hours. I stoped by and saw my cat this AM. I cried so hard. I can only hope that tonight’s blood test shows improved results.

  12. Emily says:

    My cat may have ingested part of a dried out flower petal. I’m not sure if it was a lily or not, I can’t find a picture of it anywhere. I have to contact the person who sent me the flowers in the morning to find out what kind of flower it was. Do lilies or other toxic plants remain poisonous after they die and dry out?

    • Brooke says:

      It’s possible that the plant might be benign by that point, but don’t take that as gospel. My 13 year-old cat bit into some lily and seems to be 100% unaffected 24 hours later.

  13. Dee says:

    Yesterday afternoon I received a beautiful Asiatic Lily plant for Mothers Day. This morning I noticed a small section had been nibbled away by one of my cats. They usually don’t bother plants. I did a quick Google search. Now, both are being treated at the emergency vet with I.V. flush to the kidneys. I think they are going to be OK, but won’t be certain for another 24 hrs. They are totally worth the $3,000 or more it cost to treat them.

  14. Lauren says:

    My cat Max had some of the pollen on his face but i immediately gave him a bath and got it all off of him. He hasn’t shown any signs of vomiting or lethargy but do you think he will be ok? I’m just so worried about my little boy, I don’t want him to get sick or something worse.

  15. Debbie says:

    I received a Asiatic Lily for mothers day and my cat Bella started eating some of the leaves. I had no idea they were toxic. I noticed she vomited that night but nothing since then. Today (Monday) I noticed she was acting different and if got me to thinking about the lily! as soon as I read about them I took her in to the vet. Unfortunatly, all her levels are to high and a couple off the chart. They said she needs extreme iv treatment and stay 3-4 days totally 3700.00 . I don’t have that kind of cash. So I am taking her to our normal vet in the morning to see if he can do this type of treatment for a fraction of the cost. I know she is in kidney failure and it kills me to know I can’t afford that treatment. I know I will have to put her down if she doesn’t get the help she needs.

    • Rebecca says:

      I’m so sorry this is happening to you as well. I believe my cat ate the same flower. Was your cat seizing at all? For some reason we didn’t link the flowers in the kitchen to my cat being sick. Is your baby okay now? I pray that he is.

  16. Dee says:

    I wrote earlier in the week about my two cats getting emergency treatment for possible Lily ingestion. They are fine now. I brought them home after 3 days of treatment. I’m very thankful. The vet bill to treat two cats was $1,600 not $3,000. They credited me $1,600. I guess because there were no other issues. I think getting them to the vet in the first 12 hours made all the difference. Debbie, my heart breaks for you and others that struggle with the vet bill. Something similar happened to me years ago. It’s devastating and you feel helpless and guilty that I had to euthanise my beloved cat. I’m so very sorry. Please don’t be hard on yourself. Not many people know about the toxic affects of Lilies on cats. I’ve had Lilies in my home many times and NEVER knew of the toxicity to cats. Only when a full pot of Lilies came into my house and the cats were drawn to it did I notice some teeth marks. Then I took action. The sooner you get your cat to the vet the better chance they will live. Don’t wait.

  17. Jason Helmers says:

    My cat ate some of the leaves about a month and a half to 2 months ago and hasn’t been treated….he eats and drinks water just fine…he is older and a larger breed…(seal bi-color ragdoll) I didn’t know they were so toxic to cats….he did throw up the leaves….I do notice he lays around a lot more but not sure what to think….there is change in the way he acts but I read death is usually 3 to 7 days if untreated

  18. Estelle says:

    My Boyfriend got me a bouquet of flowers for my Birthday and they were lillies. I noticed this morning that my cat had thrown up a leaf. We figured that she consumed the plant between 3:30 am and 7:45 am. My boyfriend called the vet at 8 am and they said to bring her in right away. I have read online that the prognosis is better if the cat receives IV treatment right away. She is being kept at the vets over night. I really hope my cat is going to be okay. We were told that we can pick her up tomorrow and that depending on how she does tonight she might need to be transported to another hospital ( they are closed over the weekend).

  19. Laura says:

    Two of my cats, both a year old, ingested the white flower of a calla lily. I called the vet and they told me to immediately come in because the lily could cause renal failure in both cats. I was extremely upset and it made matters worse that the vet/staff were very condescending to me. They were inducing vomiting and never found any of the flower and now they are being given charcoal and fluids.

  20. Rebecca says:

    Two days ago I noticed my cat puked twice in one day. The next day I couldn’t find him. He is usually on my face in the mornings so my best friend and I grew worried that we couldn’t find him and amazed he didn’t touch his food. We found him in our closet and we knew something was up. We took him to the vet but it was going to cost $300 just to run the tests. We decided to wait a few days to see if he got better. The same night which was last night, at around 9on my cat Forte was sleeping on me. All of a sudden he started concluding and seizing. We were out the door within minutes to rush him to the emergency vet. We are now paying $2,000 to try and save his life. It is not looking good for him. Why did we wait???? Our poor prince is fighting for his life. His kidneys are failing and we just found out our plants we just got are toxic to cats. I had a list of plants that are toxic to cats but I forgot to look the new flowers up. How could we be so careless. He is only 10 months old. Please pray for him. He is our baby. I have not slept all night. I can’t. I just want him in my arms again.

  21. Robin says:

    My 13 year old beautiful boy MUMU is poisoned. He is at the vets hooked up getting fluids to try to knock the poison out of his system. I cant see how he will survive this but i will do anything humanly possible to save him. I’m not a pessimist, just a realistic.
    I’m afraid I will be losing him and its my fault. It’s my responsibility to keep poisonous things out of my cats and dogs reach. I should have known better. I should have brought him on 2 days ago when I noticed the yellow on his face instead I joked and posted on FB, ” now what did this bad boy do”. Thinking it was funny and not putting it together until someone said Lilly poisoning. Now I will have to live with the end result.

    I have had cats all my adult life and have ever had any cat interested in aNy of the flowers. MUMU came to me at the age of 12 after his owners put him in the shelter to be killed because he “messes”. I took him in to foster and found out “messing” meant throwing up. It was IBD. I fell in love and kept him. We had it under control and now this…

    • Di says:

      Oh I am sor sorry to hear that, we are not sure if our Archie was poisoned or not but he did tip over a vase and I presume licked his paws, this was three weeks ago, he is now drinking on his own no more sub-cutaneous fluids but I am still syringe feeding him, which I hate, he is painfully thin but reasonably alert and purring although rather slow!! We have everything crossed

  22. Charles Lynn says:

    Last week our beautiful kitten started getting really sick. We took him into the vet and was on various medicine. Couple days later, today we took him in again. They had to put him down because he had came in contact with a lilly.
    Never in this world have I been so upset. You dont seen any warning signs in vets telling you about these poisonous plants. And because of it we lost our 4 month old kitten. Who was so loving and so caring. This is so hard i can’t even wrap my head around it.

  23. Robyn Lawler says:

    My beautiful 5 year old Domestic Short Hair Oliver ingested 7 leaves from a red lily this morning. He is at the vet undergoing aggressive IV treatment and blood work.

    I created a GoFundMe page to collect donations if anyone wants to help ensure he gets the best care possible. Fortunately the vet is quoting us for around $500 (which is a lot less than some numbers we read)! http://www.gofundme.com/Save-Mr-Ollie

    Thanks in advance. Please feel free to follow the updates and ask any questions.

  24. Kristen says:

    my cat being 8 weeks was playing with a stargazer lily not sure if he ate any of it and its been over 24 hours and no signs that he ate any of it besides the fact that hes been sneezing more often. There was pollen on his fur and we did give him a bath more than once. do you think he will be okay?

  25. […] addition to the usual dangers like lilies (which can result in acute kidney failure in cats), onions, garlic and grapes (which can be toxic for both dogs and cats) there are some hazards that […]

  26. Rene says:

    Wow I have two beautiful X Persians whom are 15 and 14 years of age and very healthy. Unbeknownst that Lilies are poisonous to cats, I usually have a bunch of lilies on my dinner table more than I do not, especially over the last 15 years. On many occasions I have seen both my cats chewing on the flower/leaves regularly, the only thing I do consistently is cut the pollen buds off as I don’t like how they stain. I was shocked to read about this and just never knew they were poisonous to cats. I luckily have my two babies and now do not buy lilies anymore.

  27. Ron says:

    Are Ginger Lillies also toxic to cats?

    • Hi Ron,
      Ginger lily (other names include Butterfly Ginger, Cinnamon Jasmine, Garland Flower) belongs to the Hedychium family and are not considered toxic systemically, but can cause some mechanical gastrointestinal irritation, as any plant material can do.

  28. Lady Robin Budd says:

    I am usually overprotective and obsessed with educating myself(almost daily!)About cats and everything to do with them since adopting Princess 2 years ago,after a brain injury that left me depressed,PTSD and agoraphobia,and she effectively saved my life and has helped me heal.I even left my house to walk alone across town to collect her and bring her home.Since then,everything I do revolves around her in some way(within SOME reason) and I’ve known about lilies since day one,just not the magnitude of the damage,the swiftness and the minimal contact needed for devastating damage. A bit over a week ago a dear friend sent me flowers after a surgery I had,and the florist didn’t ask him if I had cats,nor did he specify what sort of flowers to use,and they included lilies that were closed,but they opened yesterday and were full of pollen. A lot of our supermarkets remove this as do some florists,but this was a small upperclass area,and they pride themselves on quality, too bad they don’t pridde themselves on saftey!That said,her highness rarely bothers plants as she is harness walked daily out in my gardens and I avoid the cutting garden which has lilies from a former owner.But today she hopped on the counter and windowsill where the bouquet was,and was only there a moment before hubby nudged her down. But a couple hours ago whilst washing up I was admiring the other flowers opening as the roses had died and been removed,and in gazing at them,all of a sudden it twigged they were lilies!I immediately started doing much more in depth research,difficult because living in the country,we have no internet now,and my mobile signal is very limited,slow and unpredictable at best of times! And when I realised that even a brush up against pollen could be just as deadly,I panicked!I immediately black bin bagged the entire bouquet,scrubbed everything within a few feet of it,washed vases,ripped off my cardigan and blouse and grabbed dishtowels I had cleaned with and everything in hot wash right now. My dilema is I don’t drive,I live in the country a considerable distance from closest village,I very rarely leave my home and vets will all be closed. I immediately wiped Princess down,and saw no trace of pollen,but it had been several hours(6-8)and although she slept a lot of today,she may have groomed in between whilst I was doing housework. I have incredibly fantastic vet insurance up to £15,000 so am not afraid of costs,but I AM concerned that it may overstress her if she has not even touched it,and I would have to call a vet,get them to either do a house call (if possible) or take her in a cab if anyone will open for me. Princess is my entire world and life,as a child to me really and am terrified. But I am also prone to be paranoid over minimal or non existant occurances, and would hate to put her and everyone else through a drama for no reason. I’ve given her a bit of milk( I read on a site that if you can’t get to a vet right away to try and NOT induce vomiting for white lilies,to give yogurt or milk) and she has not shown ANY symptoms how ever minimal(otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this,I would be at the vets!)And everywhere I read,they say she should have at least vomited by now. Does anyone know if that is true? Is there anything else not commonly mentioned that I should look for? Its More than likely she didn’t come in contact as the lilies were quite tall,and had just opened,still only partial open, and pollen still intact,not even a speck anywhere…and as I didn’t see her before hubby shoo’ed her off, I don’t know how close she actually came to them. Everything has been washed with a good cleaner,lilies in giant black binbag(I didn’t want to risk spreading pollen by cramming them,so I used a HUGE bag to completely cover them as I put it over them from the top first,on down before tipping the bag and tieing it and rushing it out doors.
    SO, if anything, I am looking for reassurance,information,advice, and calming influences as I am pulling an all nighter just to keep a close vigil. And will call a vet immediately asap at slightest change. Its been about 10 hours now since the incident…thoughts and commiseration anyone? Warmest regards to all who visit here,and my heartfelt sympathy and warmest hugs to those who have lost beloved kitties and cheers hugs to those who have kitties that have rallied:)So many differences between my life in the US,and then moving heer to the UK in the ways we treat and laws about our kitties and pets,but love for them is the same internationally. Cheers everyone! Fingers crossed! XXX Lady Robin Budd,Her serene royal highness Princess Purdey’s mum. Cats don’t have owners,they have Staff!

  29. Carolyn says:

    I lost my sweet kitten to lily poisoning. Because he was so little he was not exhibiting the typical signs of illness until too late (day 4). He was dying for all that time and I didn’t even know. I still feel like the worst cat mommy :(

  30. Barbara Ray says:

    I brought some lilies (Stargazers) home to make an arrangement for a family member. I took it back out to the car so I could deliver it. When I came back I realized I had dropped 1 leaf on the floor and my kitty was chewing on it. I went into a fit of panic and googling. $700.00 later at the E
    vet. He was okay. No more Lilies or unlucky bamboo in my house OR yard!

  31. cindy says:

    I have 2 twelve yr old cats and about a week ago one of them became very lethargic, not eating or drinking or using the litter box. I thought it was the flu even though I had not seen him get sick…this past friday I took him to the vet (about 7 days in) and they gave him a Sub-Q and drew blood. On Saturday I took him back and they said he had stage 4 Kidney failure, but that was common in older cats, and to bring him back in for a sub-Q monday (today). I did research over the weekend so I would know what freakin’ questions to ask (these 2 have been the only pets I’ve owned as an adult) and the vet offered no real info. So I brought him in today for his 3rd Sub-Q but made an appt with another vet a friend recommended for a 2nd opinion. We went from one vet to the other today, and this vet specializes in cats, we discussed everything! he was great…he said it could be he got into lilies….I first thought where are lilies outside (the cat snuck out right around the time he got sick), but then I thought about the bouquet of flowers my husband had send for Valentines day (he’s deployed)….OH crap (i got home and yes there were lilies in the bouquet! So the new vet said they want to keep him for a few days and be really aggressive (his creatinine levels were 13.3 per the other vet) so overnight, IV’s and monitor his levels, more blood tests. My question now is for all of you that saw the high creatinine levels in your cat because of the lilies, do they regain normal levels/kidney function, or will they need treatment forever? I’m still confused but feel much better with the new vet, the other one just chalked it up to him being old…my poor cat, I had no idea lilies were toxic, and we could have been treated him way earlier had the old vet ask the right question. :( looking for what results ya’ll have seen. Thanks!

  32. Angela says:

    I saw beautiful lily plant at the store today and checked this website and found that it was poisonous so I picked something different and notified the florist and she said she would pass the word thank you for posting I hope all of your cats are good. much love to all the cute kitties

  33. […] All parts of the lily are toxic too—flowers, leaves, stems, bulb, even the pollen from the stamens, so prominent in those Easter lilies. Look at the stamens in the photo of the lily at left—what self-respecting kitty wouldn’t go in for a thorough inspection of those? […]

  34. dan-oh says:

    so i have a friend whos cat ate some lilies about two weeks ago and just found out the cat did so.. they have him on a three day flush system to see if his kidneys will react. im just wondering the likelihood of the poor guy pulling thru?

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