Public Health Concerns
They may be one of the most beautiful variety of flowers, but lilies are extremely dangerous for cats. Easter lilies, tiger lilies, rubrum or Japanese showy lilies, and various day lilies can cause kidney failure and death. The toxic principle is unknown, but even minor exposures, such as a few bites on a leaf or ingestion of the pollen, may result in toxicosis. All exposures of cats to lilies should be considered potentially life threatening.
Affected cats often vomit within a few hours of exposure to lilies, but the vomiting usually stops after a few hours, during which time the cats may appear normal or may be mildly depressed and won't eat. Within 24 to 72 hours of ingestion, kidney failure develops, accompanied by vomiting, depression, anorexia, and dehydration. Death as a result of acute kidney failure generally occurs within 3 to 6 days of ingestion.
If you suspect that your cat has eaten, tasted, or even just played with a lily, take her to a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY so that life-saving treatment can be started. The veterinarian may induce vomiting and give activated charcoal, depending on how long ago your cat might have consumed the lily. In addition, IV fluid treatment for 48 hours will likely be recommended to aid in preventing lily-induced acute kidney failure. Delaying treatment beyond 18 hours frequently results in death or euthanasia due to severe kidney failure. If you bring your cat to the SAEC, bloodwork will be done upon admittance to the hospital to establish baseline kidney values and will then be repeated in 48 hours to determine possible kidney damage and the effectiveness of the treatment.