Lilies: Beautiful To Look At, Toxic For Cats

Spring means warmer weather, longer days, and beautiful flowers. Nothing wrong with that–except that lilies, a flower many of us enjoy this time of year, can be dangerous for pets–cats in particular!

Why are lilies so bad for your cat, you ask?

Interestingly enough, the exact toxic component in lilies has not yet been identified. All we know is that it can be very dangerous if your cat is exposed to even the smallest amount. This includes any part of the lily…petals, stem, pollen and leaves. 

What signs does lily exposure cause?

The signs your cat may show will depend on the type of lily it is exposed to. Some types of lilies may cause GI signs, such as hypersalivation, not eating, and vomiting just to name a few. Some types of lilies may cause acute kidney failure in as little as three days.

Now you’re freaking out! What do you do next?

Immediately contact a veterinary care facility if you suspect your cat has ingested or been exposed to a lily. It is important to figure the lily type or at least to take a picture of the lily-as this will dictate treatment. Poison Control may need to be contacted, as they can help determine the specific treatment recommendations based on the type of lily ingested. 


Treatment will depend on the lily type. If your cat was exposed to a lily that can cause kidney failure, time is of the essence! Some studies show that if treatment is not pursued within 18 hours of exposure, the kidney damage may be irreversible. Once you arrive at the hospital, the doctor will probably make your cat vomit and give it a bath (to remove possible pollen). Various other supportive care measures, such bloodwork work, urinalysis, and starting on IV fluids for kidney support may be indicated but will be at your doctor’s discretion. In general, with immediate and proper care, your cat’s prognosis is good.

Helpful Resources

ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 888-426-4435

Pet Poison: 800-213-6680

According to the Pet Poison Hotline, some safer flower alternatives are:

  • Baby’s breath * Carnation, Daisy (Gerbera and others) * Hyacinth  Iris * Chrysanthemum a.k.a. Mums * Orchid * Peruvian Lily (Alstroemeria species) * Rose * Spring crocus * Snapdragon * Sunflower * Tulips * Zinnia
  • Further reading: How To Identify Lilies and Which are Poisonous


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Angelika Demers, CVT

Clinical Supervisor

Angelika started her animal health career in 2014 when she attended the University of Maine Augusta, Bangor campus, for Veterinary Technology. She graduated in early 2018 and became a Certified Veterinary Technician later that year. Her internship, and first veterinary field job, was at the MSPCA Angell in Boston, where she discovered her interest in emergency medicine. Throughout the years, she has continued to advance her knowledge in the field of emergency medicine, but also in cultivating relationships with patients and clients alike to offer the best quality care. Outside of work she likes hanging out with her cat, Mew, spending time outdoors, watching game shows, and photography.