Cats and Lilies - a lethal combination | Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital

Cats and Lilies - a lethal combination

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deadly pink tiger lilly

(Not like Sushi and Wasabi or Lamb and Rosemary either)


Cats, as a general rule, are not Hoovers (in the classic labrador-style sense) but some cats will eat random things and sometimes those things are bad things- Lilies are one of those bad things.

‘Lilies’ actually refers to a number of plants of a number of species, some of which are very harmful and others are not.

Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies are relatively benign. They may cause local irritation, mouth frothing, drooling, vomiting and occasionally breathing issues. Offering a chicken broth or cat milk to wash the mouth out is usually sufficient treatment.

Deadly Lillies

True lilies of the Lilium or Hemerocallis species, on the other hand are potentially fatal even in small amounts. These include Tiger, Day, Asiatic hybrid, Easter, Japanese Show, Rubrum, Stargazer, Red, Western, and wood lilies. All parts are toxic including the water in the vase. The cats don't even need to consume the plant- they might just brush past and get it on their coat and then groom it off or chew on a stem and not actually eat it.


They cause acute kidney failure, seen as;

  • Inappetance
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhoea
  • Changes in thirst and urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Seizures and Death

Other lilies can also be toxic. Lily of the Valley doesn’t cause kidney failure but can lead to fatal heart problems in cats and dogs.


Effective treatment of lily poisoning relies on rapid decontamination- inducing vomiting and administering intestinal binders, as well as intravenous fluids and monitoring through recovery. The window of opportunity is about 18 hours for best outcomes, so please don’t delay treatment.

Avoid lillies if you have cats

As with most things avoidance is best so as we approach Easter, a time traditionally associated with lilies, remember to admire from a distance if you have cats at home.

Ask your florist to not include lillies in any floral arrangements and make sure you tell your friends and family as well so they know to buy you any arrangements with lillies in them. 


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