Lilies are a popular floral display, especially at Easter. Many varieties are highly toxic to cats, including:
- Rubrun Lily
- Tiger Lily
- Asiatic Lily
- Stargazer Lily
- Easter Lily
ALL parts of the plant are toxic, including petals, leaves, stamen, pollen, and water. Ingestion can cause acute kidney failure in cats, the exact mechanism is not known.
Keep lilies out of the house, it is not worth the risk. Even if your cat isn’t prone to eating plants (mine don’t), they are still at risk of accidental ingestion if they come into contact with the pollen and ingest it when they groom.
Chocolate contains two toxic properties, theobromine, and caffeine. Theobromine is the bigger risk. The darker the chocolate, the higher the level of theobromine. Both properties are central nervous system stimulants. Dogs are at greater risk due to their indiscriminate eating habits, but cats too can be affected.
Even at non-toxic levels, chocolate is not good for cats or dogs as it contains high quantities of fat, which can cause pancreatitis, a painful condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed.
What should I do?
If you suspect your cat has ingested lilies or chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately. Early intervention can make the difference between life and death.
Treatment will vary depending on the toxin ingested. For both chocolate and lilies, the veterinarian can induce emesis (make the pet vomit) if ingestion was recent and give the pet activated charcoal to prevent further absorption.
For cats with lily poisoning, treatment must be aggressive and includes fluid therapy to maintain urine production and peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis for cats whose kidneys have failed. Supportive care including anti-nausea medication for cats who are vomiting.
As chocolate is a central nervous system stimulant, the veterinarian may give the pet medication to control tremors and seizures and beta-blockers to slow down an elevated heartbeat. Fluid therapy to treat dehydration (due to vomiting and diarrhea), and help the kidneys flush out the toxins. Intubation may be necessary for pets with difficulty breathing.
Be careful with Easter egg hunts and don’t leave chocolate lying around the house. Store chocolate out of reach to pets, either in the refrigerator or in a cupboard.
If you are buying flowers for a friend or family member with a pet, make sure the arrangement does not contain lilies.
Teach children to never share food (treats or meals) with pets. It is not just chocolate that is toxic, many human foods are dangerous for cats and dogs. Children love to treat their pets, but it can put them in danger.
Other toxic flowers
The full list of toxic flowers is beyond the scope of this article, I have linked to an extensive toxic plant list at the end of the page. But, would like to list some popular flowers which are common in floral arrangements which are toxic to cats:
- Baby’s breath
- Bird of paradise
- Calla lily
An extensive list of plants toxic to cats with both common and scientific names can be found here.