Frequently Asked Questions

Are all lilies poisonous to cats?

Members of the Lilium and Hermerocallis genera are toxic to cats. This includes: Easter lilies, day lilies, Tiger lilies, and Stargazer lilies. Other plants with 'lily' in the name, such as peace lily (Spathiphyllum) or lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria), do not cause the kidney injury associated with members of Lilium and Hemerocallis, although some of these plants are toxic in their own right (e.g., Convallaria is toxic to the heart).

What parts of the lily are poisonous to cats?

All parts of the lily - including the stem, leaves, petals, stamens and pollen - are poisonous to cats.   Even minor exposures (cat chewing on a leaf or getting pollen on his or her haircoat or whiskers) can be fatal.

What are the signs of lily poisoning in cats?

Many cats vomit after chewing or eating parts of a lily.  However, if a cat has been exposed to a lily outdoors, the family may be unaware of the exposure.

Can my cat die from exposure to a lily?

Cats are exquisitely sensitive to lily poisoning.  While the exact toxin is still unidentified, cats who are not treated promptly develop acute renal failure and die, generally within 3-6 days afterwards.   Cats with acute renal failure typically have vomiting, depression, partial or complete loss of appetite and dehydration.   Bloodwork shows increases in blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, phosphorous and potassium.   The urine contains  casts, protein, glucose and is very dilute.

My cat may have been exposed to a toxic lily. What should I do?

Cats who have been seen near lilies, as well as those who have definitely ingested any part of a lily, should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.  Cats who are treated within 18 hours of exposure to a toxic lily generally recover. However, in cases where treatment is delayed, the prognosis is generally poor and most cats are euthanized.

What can I expect will be done for my cat who has been exposed to a toxic lily?

Your cat's veterinarian will provide certain medications to help you cat eliminate the plant.  In addition, your cat will receive intravenous fluids in the hospital for approximately 48 hours.  The veterinarian may refer your cat to a specialty or emergency hospital for continued care.  Bloodwork will be taken when your cat is admitted to the hospital and will be repeated in 24 and 48 hours.

Is treatment successful, if a cat is treated promptly?

Cats who receive the above care within 18 hours of exposure generally do very well. Cats who are treated later typically do not survive, even with aggressive therapy (such as dialysis).

Are there any effective at-home treatments for cats with lily poisoning?

Unfortunately, there is no home treatment that is successful in saving the lives of cats who are poisoned by lilies.

What can I do to get the word out?

There are many things a concerned individual can do to decrease the number of lily poisonings in cats :

(1.)  Talk to your relatives, neighbors, co-workers and friends who have cats and tell them about the dangers of lilies.  Refer them to this website.  E-mail the link to this website to friends and family.

(2.)  When ordering flowers for delivery to homes with cats, specifically request that lilies not be included in the arrangement.  Most on-line floral delivery services allow for "special requests" to be made.  When the arrangement arrives, call the recipient and make sure that lilies have not been included.

(3.)  Do not bring lilies into your home.  If you receive a floral arrangement with lilies in it, throw the lilies away or bring them to a location where there are no cats.  Many cats have been poisoned by lilies that the family mistakenly thinks have been put "off limits" within the home.

(4.)  Remove daylilies from your yard or garden,  if there are cats who wander outdoors.

(5.) Talk to your local supermarket's floral department manager and area florists and inform them of lily poisonings and cats.

(6.) Ask your cat's veterinarian to discuss lily toxicity with each cat client.

(7.) Work with your local humane society to increase awareness of this problem.

(8.) Talk with the person at your house of worship that handles decorations for the sanctuary and make sure that poisonous lilies are not given to members with cats.

(9.) Talk with the local garden store manager and make them aware of the problem daylilies pose to cats.

(10.) Know and share the toll-free number to the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center : 1-888-426-4435.  The Center is staffed 24/7 by a team of veterinarians and support personnel.  There is a $65 consultation fee (payable by credit card) for the use of this service.