The Deadly Dangers of Lilies

easter lilies cats toxic plants
My collection of lilies on my front porch in New Orleans. I grew them all from seeds.

Easter is almost here!  Right now flowers seem to be everywhere I look.  I want to bring them all home, but I have to resist. Few of my readers know that I am a huge plant lover.  It gives me so much pleasure to grow all kinds of things from seeds. Lilies and orchids are my favorite. Just looking at them makes my heart swell!  But these days, I keep the lilies outside. They are not allowed inside the house – ever. Why?  Because we have cats and a dog


Did you know?

There is another plant far more dangerous to pets than poinsettias.

Meet the beautiful and deadly lily.

easter lily grown from seed_toxic to cats_poisonous plants
I grew this Lily from a seed! Isn’t she beautiful?

Facts about Lilies:

  • Lilies are one of the most dangerous flowers to have around cats.
  • They can send a cat into acute kidney failure (which can be fatal).
  • There are several types of lilies that are toxic to pets.
  • It takes only a nibble on one leaf or stem, or the ingestion of a small amount of lily pollen (easy to do when a cat grooms itself) to send a cat into acute kidney failure and you rushing to the emergency vet.
  • Lily of the valley (Convalaria majalis) affects the heart, causing irregular heartbeat and low blood pressure, and can progress to seizures or coma (in cats and dogs).

There are benign and dangerous lilies. So it’s important to know the difference.  

  • Benign lilies: the Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies; these contain insoluble oxalate crystals that cause tissue irritation in the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and esophagus.
  • Dangerous and potentially fatal lilies:  The “true lilies” (the Lilium or Hemerocallis species): the tiger, day, Asiatic hybrid, Easter, Japanese Show, rubrum, stargazer, red, Western, and wood lilies
  • Other types of dangerous lilies include lily of the valley. This type does not cause kidney failure, but can cause life-threatening heart arrhythmias and death when ingested by dogs or cats.

Lilies toxic to cats

Watch this 1 minute video to learn about Lily Toxicity:

The outlook for cats with acute kidney failure resulting from eating lilies can be good, so long as early and aggressive treatment is pursued. But if too much time passes before ingestion is recognized and appropriate treatment is started, the outlook becomes much worse and death from the disease or from euthanasia is more likely. The sad truth is that without treatment, acute kidney failure is going to be fatal.

Common signs to watch for:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting (pieces of plant in the vomit)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased urination, followed by lack of urination after 1 to 2 days
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Hiding
  • Diarrhea
  • Halitosis
  • Inappropriate urination or thirst
  • Seizures
  • Death

dangers of easter lilies and cats


Safety Tips:

  • If you live with cats, never have lilies in the home. It’s not worth the risk!
  • If you want to send a bouquet to friends or family members with cats, specifically request “no lilies please!”
  • If you love lilies, keep them outside on the porch where cats cannot reach them.
  • Keep your cat indoors.  Lots of folks have lilies growing in their garden, and many grow wild along the roadside. If your cat is outdoors, you have no way to prevent your cat from eating or rubbing up against those wild lilies.
  • Click here for an extensive list of poisonous plants & flowers (and some non-toxic alternatives)

Cats jump, dead leaves fall, vases spill, and pollen travels on breezes – any of these scenarios can kill your cat.

Easter is just around the corner! Please be sure your home does not have these very dangerous flowers. And please share this with your friends, colleagues, and family!

easter lilies and cats
My beautiful but deadly lily plant

Sources and more resources:

Pet Poison Help Hotline

Lesser Known Pet Toxicities: Lily Toxicity in Cats

One thought on “The Deadly Dangers of Lilies

  1. Pingback: Pets & Poison | Jacksonville Humane Society

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