Pet owners beware: lilies can cause acute kidney failure in cats

2012-04-10 00:00

LILIES can be fatal to cats.

Plants like Oriental, tiger, stargazer and day lilies, which are often used in flower arrangements or as potted plants, can cause acute kidney failure.

The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that the whole plant, flowers, pollen and leaves, are toxic to cats.

Symptoms include nausea, listlessness and lack of appetite. As little as two leaves or one flower have led to reported cat deaths, according to an article in the quarterly Internet journal Topics in Companion Animal Medicine.

The first symptoms appear as little as half-an-hour after exposure.

Nausea and vomiting stop after a few hours, but this doesn’t mean the danger is past, the article states. The toxin begins to affect the kidneys, making the animal very thirsty, and depressed.

Acute kidney failure occurs one to three days after the animal eats the lily and death can follow within five days.

The article said most people are not aware how dangerous lilies are to cats, and cannot even correctly identify the plants in their gardens.

Cats kept inside seem to be more suspectible to poisoning.

The fatal effect is confined to cats.

In studies, mice, rats, rabbits and dogs were fed lilies, and although they threw it up, the plant did not cause kidney failure with them.

If you see any of the symptoms, take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.

Owner are advised to keep pets away from liliy plants.

Professor Andrew Leisewitz of the University of Pretoria Onderstepoort veterinary school, who is an expert in pets, said lily poisoning is very rare, and he has never seen a case.

He warned that should it occur, a vet might misdiagnose it, being unaware of lilies’ toxic effects.

However, he said, cats are far less common pets in South Africa than in the U.S. and Britain.

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