Some flowers don’t mix well with felines. A spring favorite, the Easter lily or Lilium longiflorum, is one that could kill a curious cat.
Potted Easter lilies are perennials that can be planted into the garden after the Easter season ends. The plant’s white trumpet-like flowers might not sound the warning that all parts of it are highly toxic to cats.
Easter lilies are a true lily. They grow from bulbs, not tubers. As a member of the Lilium genus, Easter lilies (L. longiflorum) have a single stem with leaves whirling about it. True lilies bloom a week or more. Other Lilium as well as Hemerocallis (daylily) species also can prove toxic.
Even small amounts of Easter lilies can be deadly to cats, says University of Missouri Extension veterinary toxicologist Tim Evans. Eating a small amount of the leaves or flowers or licking pollen grains can cause cats to develop kidney failure in three to four days. Even drinking water from a vase that contained lilies brings about serious adverse effects.
“With spring planting, Mother’s Day, and prom season, and graduation ceremonies right around the corner, it is important to know that other members of the Lilium genus and daylilies or Hemerocallis species also can prove extremely toxic to cats,” says Evans.
Early signs of poisoning include vomiting, lack of appetite and lethargy. Evans suggests that pet owners consult their local veterinarian if the suspect poisoning. Veterinarians likely will prescribe medications or give intravenous fluids, says Evans.
He says it is important to keep cats away from areas where lilies grow outside also. “Any evidence of damage to the leaves or flowers of “true” lilies where cats might be roaming, the presence of lily pollen on the face of cat with a guilty look on its face, or cat vomitus containing lily parts are all potential causes for concern and require a call to your local veterinarian,” Evans says.
The Easter lily became a popular decoration in American homes after World War I, says MU Extension state horticulturist David Trinklein. It originated in Japan and remains a symbol of hope and purity.
Today, 95 percent of the world’s bulbs come from the region along the Oregon-California border, now known as the Easter lily capital of the world. Most bulbs grow in U.S. and Canadian commercial greenhouses.
Despite a sales window of only two weeks, lilies rank fourth in the wholesale potted plant market in the United States, behind poinsettias, mums and azaleas.
Potted Easter lilies can be planted in Missouri as soon as the ground can be worked, says Trinklein. They will bloom the following June.
The Easter lily is not the only lily that can cause potential deadly kidney disease in cats. The Food and Drug Administration lists the following true lilies as dangerous to cats: Asiatic lily, daylily, Easter lily, Japanese show lily, oriental lily, rubrum lily, Stargazer lily, tiger lily and wood lily. Other lilies that are not true lilies such as lily-of-the-valley, the gloriosa or flame lily also may cause health issues. See https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/lovely-lilies-and-curious-cats-dangerous-combination for more information.
There are other potentially toxic products and plants likely inside and outside our homes, Evans says. In addition to your pet’s regular veterinarian, the Pet Poison Helpline (https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/) and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control) are both available for emergency consultations (a fee may apply), as well as free online information about toxic household risks.
For more information on how to plant your potted lily outside, see https://extension.missouri.edu/news/after-the-bloom-fades-easter-lily-can-see-new-life-5570.
Story courtesy of Linda Geist