Cats are curious creatures by nature. They love to play, jump, and roam around the house or yard, but sometimes their inquisitive personalities get the best of them. They’re just drawn to that beautiful bouquet of stargazer lilies on your kitchen table or the colorful cluster of daylilies in your garden.
Lilies are extremely popular around the world and are commonly seen in garden beds and borders and in bouquets. While their flowers are lovely to see and smell, lilies pose a significant safety threat for your cat.
Lilies in the “true lily” and “daylily” families are very dangerous for cats. The entire lily plant is toxic: the stem, leaves, flowers, pollen, and even the water in a vase. Eating just a small amount of a leaf or flower petal, licking a few pollen grains off its fur while grooming, or drinking the water from the vase can cause your cat to develop fatal kidney failure in less than 3 days. The toxin, which only affects cats, has not been identified. Dogs that eat lilies may have minor stomach upset but they don’t develop kidney failure.
Early signs of lily toxicity in cats include decreased activity level, drooling, vomiting, and loss of appetite. These symptoms start 0 to 12 hours after ingestion. Signs of kidney damage start about 12 to 24 hours after ingestion and include increased urination and dehydration. Kidney failure occurs within 24 to 72 hours, leading to death if the cat isn’t treated. Early veterinary treatment greatly improves the cat’s prognosis. However, if treatment is delayed by 18 hours or more after ingestion, the cat will generally have irreversible kidney failure.
- Highly Toxic Lilies for Cats
- Other Highly Toxic “Lilies” for Cats and Dogs
- Less Harmful “Lilies” for Cats and Dogs
- Get Quick Veterinary Treatment
- Be Careful This Spring
- Pet Poison Control Centers
- Resources for You
- What plants are toxic to cats and dogs?
- Are any plants safe for cats and dogs?
- Common poisoning symptoms in pets
- What to do if your pet eats toxic plants
- Can you stop pets from eating plants?
- Lily Poisoning In Cats
- Which lilies are toxic to cats?
- Peace Lily And Cats: Learn About The Toxicity Of Peace Lily Plants
- Toxicity of Peace Lily Plants
- Treating Peace Lily Poisoning in Cats
- What is this plant? Will it kill my cats if they eat it? April 28, 2017 6:30 PM Subscribe
- Why are lilies poisonous to cats?
- Which lilies ARE and are NOT poisonous to cats?
- Symptoms of feline poisoning
- What to do if your cat has been poisoned
- Are lilies poisonous to other animals?
- Other household plants to beware of
Highly Toxic Lilies for Cats
The most dangerous lilies for cats include:
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Asiatic lily (including hybrids)||Lilium asiaticum|
|Easter lily||Lilium longiflorum|
|Japanese Show lily||Lilium speciosum|
|Oriental lily||Lilium orientalis|
|Rubrum lily||Lilium speciosum var. rubrum|
|Stargazer lily||Lilium ‘Stargazer’ – a hybrid|
|Tiger lily||Lilium tigrinum or lancifolium|
|Wood lily||Lilium philadelphicum or umbellatum|
Because these lilies are so dangerous for cats and there’s a high risk of death if they’re ingested, it’s best to not bring these plants into your home if you have a cat. It’s also best if you don’t plant them in your garden if your cat goes outside or if your neighbors have outdoor cats.
Other Highly Toxic “Lilies” for Cats and Dogs
Other plants may have the word “lily” in their name but they aren’t in the “true lily” or “daylily” families and don’t cause kidney failure in cats. However, these “lily” plants may cause other serious problems if ingested. Both lily-of-the-valley and the gloriosa or flame lily are very dangerous to cats and dogs.
Lily-of-the-valley contains toxins that cause the heart to beat abnormally. This abnormal heart rhythm can be life-threatening. Other signs of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness.
The roots or tubers of the gloriosa lily may contain enough toxins to cause serious multi-system organ failure if a dog or cat chews on them.
Less Harmful “Lilies” for Cats and Dogs
Both calla lilies and peace lilies contain insoluble crystals of calcium oxalates (insoluble means the crystals don’t dissolve in water). When a cat or dog chews on or bites the plant, the crystals are released and directly irritate the mouth, tongue, throat, and esophagus. Signs may be seen immediately and include pawing at the face (because of the mouth pain), drooling, foaming, vocalizing, vomiting, and diarrhea. The signs usually go away on their own. Breathing problems due to swelling of the mouth and airways can occur but are uncommon.
The Peruvian lily contains a toxin that causes mild stomach upset (vomiting and diarrhea) if a cat or dog ingests a large amount. The signs usually go away on their own. The Peruvian lily can be mistaken for a smaller version of a “true lily” plant but doesn’t cause kidney failure in cats.
Get Quick Veterinary Treatment
If you suspect that your cat has eaten any part of a lily or its pollen or has drunk water from a vase containing lilies, immediately call your veterinarian or a pet poison control center. Depending on the type of lily, it may be a medical emergency and prompt veterinary treatment is critical. Try to bring the lily plant with you to the veterinary clinic (or take a picture of it on your cell phone). This will help your veterinarian determine if it’s one of the highly toxic ones.
Be Careful This Spring
Spring is a beautiful time of year, and springtime holidays, such as Easter and Mother’s Day, are times to celebrate with friends and family. Your feline friends want to celebrate with you. Please do your part to “cat-proof” your home and garden to keep your cat safe this spring season by choosing safer flower alternatives. (See the Pet Poison Helpline’s list of safer flower choices for cats.)
Pet Poison Control Centers
Resources for You
- No Lilies for Kitties!
For many years I was an avid collector of houseplants.
Trips to the nursery were a common weekend activity, and I’d always return home with some kind of gorgeous vine, palm and lily.
My apartment started to resemble a home jungle of the kind you find on Pinterest, and my plant children were thriving. It was wonderful.
Then, my partner and I adopted two criminally cute kittens.
Jasper has a penchant for all things soil and foliage, so we switched to faux plants at home.(ABC Life: Juliette Steen)
On the day we picked them up, the volunteer asked if everything at home was prepped. “Food, toys, litter trays, litter?” We nodded along, eager to bring them home and shower them in cuddles. “And you don’t have any houseplants?”
Little did I (or my friends and colleagues) know that many, many common houseplants and flowers are toxic to cats and dogs.
So in an effort to keep my furry friends safe, I went to several vets and a plant poison author to find out which common house plants are toxic — and what to do if you suspect your cat or dog has eaten them.
What plants are toxic to cats and dogs?
Turns out, hundreds of plants can be poisonous to pets, and many of these are found in and around our homes.
In fact, one of the experts I spoke to says when it comes to pets, there are no “safe” plants.
“When you look in textbooks about the poisonous principles of plants, each plant has the ability to poison a number of different systems in the body,” says veterinarian and vet clinic director Dr David Neck.
Paula Parker, an emergency vet and AVA president, says that although many plants are mild-to-moderate in terms of toxicity and can cause “mild” symptoms like gastrointestinal upset. When pets consume highly toxic plants it can be fatal — even if they only have a very small amount.
The following list contains 10 common plants and flowers toxic to cats and dogs. It’s by no means comprehensive, so if you have pets check out (and bookmark) this resource from American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
10 common plants toxic to dogs and cats
|Plant name||Description||Symptoms include|
Cannabis poisoning (from plants, leftover matter and edibles) is one of the most common plant poisoning vets see, especially in dogs.
Delta nine tetrahydrocannabinol affects cat and dogs’ neurological system.
|Incoordination, tremors, drooling, seizures, possible respiratory problems, depression, coma.|
Lilies (such as peace lily, calla lily, Easter lily and Tiger lily) are highly toxic and potentially fatal to cats. Some types are also toxic to dogs.
Avoid having any plant from the lily family in or around the home. And be mindful of gifted flowers.
|Vomiting, diarrhoea, lack of appetite, stomach pain, depression, difficulty swallowing, kidney damage, kidney failure, multiple organ failure.|
Sago palms (cycads) are commonly found in tropical and ornamental gardens. All parts of the plant are highly toxic to dogs. Consumption of sago palm is often fatal.
Avoid having sago palms in and around your home if you have pets, and be extremely careful when removing them.
|Vomiting, diarrhoea, liver damage, liver failure, multiple organ failure.|
|Ivy||Many popular ivy plants, including English ivy and Devil’s ivy/Golden Pothos, have moderate toxicity to pets.||Mouth and stomach irritation, excessive drooling, foaming at the mouth, swelling of the mouth, tongue and lips, vomiting, diarrhoea.|
|Philodendrons||The philodendron family, which includes Swiss cheese plant, heartleaf and fiddle-leaf philodendron, have a toxicity level of mild to moderate for cats and dogs.||Oral irritation, pain and swelling of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.|
|Rubber tree plants||Some rubber tree plants (such as Japanese/Chinese/jade rubber plant and Indian rubber plant) are toxic to cats and dogs.||Decreased appetite, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, depression, skin irritation.|
|Aloe vera||Although considered a medicinal plant for humans, aloe vera’s level of toxicity is mild to moderate for cats and dogs.||Vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, depression, anorexia, tremors, change in urine colour.|
|Chinese evergreen||Chinese evergreen’s level of toxicity is mild to moderate, though symptoms can include liver and kidney damage.||Oral irritation, pain and swelling of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.|
|Asparagus fern||Asparagus fern, also known as emerald feather and lace fern, is mild to moderate in toxicity.||Allergic dermatitis, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain.|
|Lantana||Considered a weed in Australia, lantana is a colourful, extremely toxic plant for cats and dogs.||Depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, loss of appetite, shock, abdominal swelling, paralysis, possible liver failure.|
Sources: Paula Parker, David Neck and Nicole O’Kane.
Other common toxic plants include, but are not limited to: holly, tulip, oleander, azalea, daffodil, carnations, chrysanthemum, corn plant, dumb cane, jade plant.
Foods to also be wary of include tomato leaves and stems, grapes and any derivatives (sultanas, raisins), onions, rhubarb leaves, avocado, macadamia nuts, garlic and walnuts.
- This is not an exhaustive list.
- Plants have various names, so always check all names when assessing the safety risk.
- If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic substance, take them to the vet immediately.
And don’t forget about extremely dangerous snail pellets, rat poison and human medications, such as anti-inflammatories and paracetamol.
“Keep them well away from pets and be very careful,” Dr Neck says. “Goodness knows how many times people have unwittingly left their medications around their pets.”
Are any plants safe for cats and dogs?
While there are plants with low toxicity (such as areca palm), they can still cause negative symptoms like gastrointestinal upset in dogs and cats.
As Dr Parker explains, it’s a case of whether your pet is prone to eating plants, where the plant is placed around the home, and whether it’s worth the risk.
As for 100 per cent safe, pet-friendly plants? Nicole O’Kane — author of Poisonous 2 Pets, a book endorsed by vets around Australia — explains there might not be any.
“I don’t believe in recommending ‘safe plants’ as there is increasing information coming out on new toxic plants each day, so one which may have been deemed ‘safe’, such as gardenias, are now considered to contain toxic principles,” O’Kane tells ABC Life.
Common poisoning symptoms in pets
Remember to check the plants outside your home and in your garden are safe, too.(Unsplash: Caleb Stokes)
The symptoms a cat or dog experience after eating toxic plants or foods depends on the toxin as well as the pet you have, their age, underlying medical conditions and how much they have consumed.
“The classic symptoms include seizing or fitting, agitation or tremoring (if it’s affecting their nervous system), diarrhoea or vomiting, and drooling (this can be a sign of nausea if it’s affecting their gastrointestinal system),” Dr Neck says.
What to do if your pet eats toxic plants
If you suspect your cat or dog has ingested plant matter (or in any circumstance when your pet is sick), Dr Neck recommends following these steps. Remember: a small delay can be tragic.
“Calling the vet clinic is the first port of call,” he says. “This allows the clinic to get ready and means you’re minutes ahead when you arrive with your pet. It’s much better for us to know what’s coming than for it to burst in the front door.”
When it comes to handling poisoning in animals, vets generally try to sustain life while the dog or cat deals with the toxin itself.
This includes things like putting the animal on intravenous fluid to combat shock, providing respiratory support on a ventilator if they’ve stopped breathing, and controlling seizures by anaesthetising the animal.
If it’s safe to do so, vets may induce vomiting to get out the toxins. If not, they can anaesthetise the animal and wash out their stomach (gastric lavage).
Can you stop pets from eating plants?
Some people use pet deterrent sprays to repel dogs and cats from eating plants, but Dr Parker explains these products can be overly irritating and often don’t work.
“Generally we try to do positive training rather than negative consequence training,” Dr Parker says.
“There’s not a huge scientific evidence base to show pet deterrents are effective. But there is a big evidence base that support positive-training methods.”
This includes ensuring your pet has enough stimulation throughout the day and providing other objects they can safely chew on.
“Often, if pets are chewing on plants it’s a sign they don’t have anything more appealing,” Dr Parker says.
“That behaviour often tells us they’re bored or there’s something else going on.”
Lily Poisoning In Cats
If you think your cat may have eaten lily then bring both your cat, and the plant itself if possible, to the vet immediately. The sooner your cat starts supportive care, the better the outlook will be. There is no antidote to lily poisoning.
Your vet will assess your cat and implement supportive care. This may involve inducing vomiting and reducing further absorption by feeding activated charcoal if only a short time has elapsed since your cat ate the lily. Aggressive fluid therapy with a drip, anti-nausea medication, kidney function blood tests, and close monitoring of blood pressure and urine output may all be part of your pets supportive care plan. Cats often require several days of hospitalisation, care and monitoring at the vets to reduce the long-term impact on kidney function and clear the body of the toxins.
Even with prompt veterinary attention there is sadly no guarantee that a cat with lily poisoning will survive. Treatment ideally should be started within six hours of the cat eating the lily. Those seen more than 18 hours after the initial ingestion have a very poor prognosis, but even early, aggressive treatment can still result in death, and surviving cats often have permanent kidney damage.
If you think your cat may have eaten lily, contact your nearest Vets4Pets as soon as possible.
Book an appointment
Which lilies are toxic to cats?
As any cat owner will tell you, our feline friends are inquisitive creatures and can’t resist investigating the world around them, but accidentally ingesting the wrong bit of vegetation can have dire consequences.
Lilies are toxic to cats
Lilies are a big ‘no-no’ for feline-friendly homes and gardens. Just one lily leaf, if eaten, can kill your cat – but any part of the plant is dangerous, including the pollen and flower.
Simply brushing by the plant, then grooming the pollen off his coat, can prove lethal to a cat. Take care to avoid the Easter Lily (Lilium Longiflorum), the Tiger Lily (Lilium Tigrinum), the Rubrum Lily (Lilium Speciosum), the Stargazer Lily (Lilium Orientalis), the Japanese Show Lily (Lilium Lancifolium), Asiatic Lilies and species of the Day Lily(Hemerocalis). However, it is wise to be cautious with all types of lily if you’re a cat owner.
How do I know if my cat has been poisoned by a lily?
The first symptoms likely to occur after your cat has ingested lily are depression, lack of appetite and sometimes vomiting. If untreated, he will quickly go downhill, becoming dehydrated and suffering from diarrhoea, breathing difficulties and bad breath. Acute renal failure is the likely eventual result – if he doesn’t receive medical treatment within hours, he will probably die.
If you think your cat has ingested any part of a lily, take him to your vet as soon as possible.
Be aware of all plants that are toxic to cats
The Veterinary Poisons Information Service warn that ingesting azalea, oleander, sago palm or yew plant material can be fatal for pets.
Lilies aside, cat owners should also be wary of cyclamen, poinsettia, amaryllis, holly, ivy, mistletoe, daffodils and foxgloves, to name a few. Laburnum, some berries and toadstools can also occasionally cause problems.
Take the time to go around your home and garden and examine thoroughly exactly which plants you have growing there. List both the plant’s common and Latin names, as this may help your vet if he suspects your cat has been poisoned.
Read more about which plants are toxic to cats here.
If you’re planning on enclosing your garden or building an outdoor run for your cat this is important – even if your cat hasn’t shown much interest in certain shrubs, trees and plants before, they may come under closer feline scrutiny if he’s shut in with them.
Peace Lily And Cats: Learn About The Toxicity Of Peace Lily Plants
Is peace lily toxic to cats? A lovely plant with lush, deep green leaves, peace lily (Spathiphyllum) is prized for its ability to survive nearly any indoor growing condition, including low light and neglect. Unfortunately, peace lily and cats are a bad combination, as peace lily is indeed toxic to cats (and dogs, too). Read on to learn more about peace lily toxicity.
Toxicity of Peace Lily Plants
According to Pet Poison Hotline, the cells of peace lily plants, also known as Mauna Loa plants, contain calcium oxalate crystals. When a cat chews or bites into the leaves or stems, the crystals are released and cause injury by penetrating the animal’s tissues. The damage can be extremely painful to the animal’s mouth, even if the plant isn’t ingested.
Fortunately, peace lily toxicity isn’t as great as that of other types of lilies, including Easter lily and Asiatic lilies. The Pet Poison Hotline says that peace lily, which isn’t a true lily, doesn’t cause damage to the kidneys and liver.
Toxicity of peace lily plants is considered mild to moderate, depending on the amount ingested.
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) lists signs of peace lily poisoning in cats as follows:
- Severe burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue
- Difficulty swallowing
- Excessive drooling and increased salivation
To be safe, think twice before keeping or growing peace lilies if you share your home with a cat or dog.
Treating Peace Lily Poisoning in Cats
If you suspect your pet may have ingested peace lily, don’t panic, as your cat is unlikely to suffer long-term harm. Remove any chewed leaves from your cat’s mouth, and then wash the animal’s paws with cool water to remove any irritants.
Never try to induce vomiting unless advised by your veterinarian, as you may unintentionally make matters worse.
Call your veterinarian for advice as soon as possible. You can also call the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. (Note: You may be requested to pay a consultation fee.)
What is this plant? Will it kill my cats if they eat it?
April 28, 2017 6:30 PM Subscribe
Like other houseplants from the aroid family (Aglaonema, Epipremnum, Philodendron, Alocasia, Monstera, Anthurium), Spathiphyllum are hazardous mainly because the leaves and petioles contain sharp, needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate. When the plant is bitten, the crystals jab into gums and tongue and cause pain and swelling.
Most animals are smart enough not to bite them more than once, because the pain is a substantial deterrent, but even if an animal repeatedly chewed the plant, it is unlikely to be life-threatening, and would probably be limited to vomiting, increased salivation, difficulty swallowing, and pain in and around the mouth, as the ASPCA site says. (And this is assuming an unusually persistent cat who is unable to learn from their mistakes.) My understanding is that the effects usually only last for a day or two.
If the question were about Dieffenbachia, I’d say just get a different plant, but I personally would not be that worried about Spathiphyllum. I’d watch both cat and plant pretty carefully in the first week or so, and maybe try to put the plant in a less-accessible location, but I don’t think there’s that much actual danger here.
Dieffenbachia, also an aroid, is significantly more dangerous, because there’s other stuff present in dieffs that causes more substantial swelling and can lead to the formation of open sores and stuff. The swelling can occasionally get so bad that it affects breathing.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:44 AM on April 29, 2017
Each year around the Easter holidays, lilies find their way into numerous American households. Unbeknownst to many pet parents, most species of the lily pose an extreme threat to a certain four-legged friend in the home. Are lilies poisonous to cats? Absolutely.
Why are lilies poisonous to cats?
As Litter-Robot resident veterinarian Dr. Justine Lee points out in her post about the top 10 poisons that land cats in the emergency vet, cats are at a higher risk of poisoning because they have an altered liver metabolism.
Ingesting as little as two petals or leaves can result in severe, potentially irreversible acute kidney failure in your cat.
Depending on the genus, the toxic principles of lilies include insoluble calcium oxalates; lycorine and other alkaloids; cardenolides (convallarin and others); saponins, and more.
Which lilies ARE and are NOT poisonous to cats?
When a cat ingests part of a lily, the severity of poisoning varies greatly from genus (sub-family) to genus. Lily plants that are the most toxic to cats belong to the Lilium genus (which includes Easter lilies, tiger lilies, and Asiatic lilies) and the Hemerocallis genus (which includes daylilies). Part of what makes these plants such a problem is that they’re commonly found in florist bouquets—as they tend to be fragrant, inexpensive, and long-lasting.
There are other species of lily that are poisonous to cats, as well. In general, avoid bringing the following plants into the house:
- Easter lily (also called trumpet lily)
- Tiger lily
- White lily (also called Madonna lily)
- Asiatic lily
- Stargazer lily (also called Oriental lilies)
- Calla lily (also called pig or arum lily)
- Lily of the Valley
- Wood lily (also called red lily)
- Japanese Show lily (also called rubrum lily)
- Bush lily (also called Clivia lily)
- Plantain lily (also called Hosta lily)
“Lilies” that are not considered toxic to cats (because they are not true lilies) include the following: Peruvian lily, sand lily, corn lily, ginger lily, sego/mariposa lily, canna lily, Saint Bernard’s lily, red palm lily, resurrection lily, and Scarborough lily.
Symptoms of feline poisoning
Unfortunately, symptoms may not manifest in a cat for 1 or 2 days—at which point it may be too late to successfully treat. If you have a lily plant in the house and notice any of the following symptoms in your cat, seek treatment immediately:
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty swallowing
- Lethargy and general malaise
- Increased urination, followed by lack of urination after 1 to 2 days
- Tremors or seizures
What to do if your cat has been poisoned
Even with aggressive medical treatment, cats may die within 2 to 3 days of lily ingestion. If you think your cat was poisoned, call your veterinarian, emergency animal clinic, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) immediately for life-saving advice.
Don’t forget: You can’t induce vomiting in cats at home safely, so an emergency vet visit is a must!
The emergency vet will take blood and urine tests to evaluate kidney function. If the cat only recently ingested the plant, the vet may induce vomiting through activated charcoal given orally. In order to prevent dehydration and the kidneys shutting down, the cat will be given fluids intravenously for 1 to 2 days. The vet will monitor kidney function and urine output. If no urine is produced, it may be a sign that treatment was unsuccessful.
Are lilies poisonous to other animals?
Are lilies poisonous to cats? Yes. Furthermore, certain lilies are also poisonous to dogs and horses. Dogs should not ingest calla lilies, Lilies of the Valley, bush/Clivia lilies, or plantain/Hosta lilies. Horses should not ingest Lilies of the Valley or plantain/Hosta lilies.
Other household plants to beware of
Lilies may be the most common culprit behind feline poisonings, but other household plants can also pose a threat to cats. These include:
- Azalea and Rhododendron
- Sago Palm
- Castor Bean
- Marijuana (rarely results in death)
Visit ASPCA’s list of plants that are toxic and non-toxic to cats to learn more.
- Dr. Justine Lee