Hacking hairballs on National Hairball Day
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Cats and Easter Lilies don’t mix. I found out the hard way.

One very lucky kitty

Beware: If you have cats, don’t bring an Easter Lilly into your house or anywhere near where your cats may come in contact with it.

While beautiful and carrying an aura of peace on earth to us humans, they bring a life of terror to our feline friends.

If your cat eats as few as a few leaves, or even licks the plant and ingests some pollen, it could result in kidney failure. Symptoms can appear within 6 to 12 hours. Early signs include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting and dehydration.

The toxicity isn’t limited to Easter lilies. Other lilies share the poison. They include the Lilium and Hemerocallis species, referred to as Tiger lilies, Day lilies and Asiatic lilies.

I, for one, made the mistake of bringing in a Tiger lily into an outside room so it would survive an early fall frost. I was bringing all the plants in, so why not this one. My cats do wander out into that area at will, and I knew, they do like to munch away at plants, but I figured they would be able to discern that this plant was bad news. Plus, they hadn’t really bothered plants out in this room. Now, the ones in the kitchen, well that was another story.

I was wrong, very wrong, even dead wrong.

I was cleaning up in that outer room, when I though I heard something. Turning around, my mouth dropped to my stomach. There was My Little Yellow, the header on this blog, about two years old, happily chewing on the decrepid looking lily. I screamed at him to get down, and he slicked away into a corner. He knew he was in trouble, but was there more.

Checking around the lily, I didn’t see any broken leaves, but then again, it wasn’t in very good shape. But Little Yellow just wasn’t his happy-go-lucky self. He seemed lethargic. He wasn’t moving, and that wasn’t normal.

How stupid of me, I was yelling inside. Should I call the vet? This is a Sunday. I’d have to go 70 miles to the animal emergency clinic. That’s a long ways……I waited and paced, paced and waited, and kept looking at Little Yellow. He definitely was not himself.

I called the vet’s office, knowing the emergency number was on their answering machine. I called the emergency clinic….Bring him in for an evaluation… I dug out the cat carrier, and secured him. I put him in the front seat so I could observe him.

He doesn’t like to ride in a car. Few cats do.Within 20 miles, the poor kitty was frothing at the mouth, and panting. I tried to put my hand into the cage to calm him. Was he dying? Or was he having an anxiety attack?

It was a very long hour and a half, even though I know I was driving about 65 to 70 on winding country roads. I was scared, and so was he.

We finally arrived at the emergency clinic. He looked fine, but they took blood tests. They said that was routine and most likely he’d be able to go back home with me.

Wrong…his blood tests came back with an abnormality…They gave him an IV, and said to leave him overnight. Come back by 7 am, and pick him up, and take him to the regular vet…

My heart again sunk. Was he going to be ok? Had my stupidity cost him his health?

And of course, I called to check on his well-being upon getting home another hour and a half later. That morning, back into the car, to pick up Little Yellow.

He had a huge bandage on his front leg which had been shaven, and they kept the IV in so the regular vet could continue to hydrate and observe him.

They kept him another day for observation, and thank goodness, they found that he seemed to be quite healthy and ready for home.

It took a few months for the hair to grow back

It did take a few months for his hair to return to normal. As a Maine coon, he really did look strange with no hair on part of his leg. But I learned a huge lesson, and that’s when they say something is bad for our feline friends, take it seriously. There’s nothing worse than loosing a friend due to negligence. It’s bad enough when it’s something that can’t be prevented.

Another lesson learned. Make sure you have access to the number of the nearest emergency clinic for pets, and know where it’s located. You never know when you’re going to need their services, and you’re not going to be clear-headed enough to go searching, when you need them most.

If you’ve had a similar experience with a lily or some other toxic substance, please share.



According to earthlink.com the top ten most common poisonous plants to animals are:

  • Marijuana – Animals who attempt to snack on this plant can suffer serious consequences such as diarrhea, vomiting, increased heart rate, drooling, in-coordination, and even possibly seizures and coma.
  • Sago Palm – While the seeds and nuts of this plant are most poisonous, the entire plant is toxic.  Animals ingesting parts of this plant may suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, depression, seizures and liver failure.
  • Lilies – Plants of the lily variety are very poisonous to cats.  Even very small amounts of this plant could cause serious kidney damage.
  • Tulips – The toxic portion of this plant is the actual bulb, which can cause drooling, central nervous system depression, gastrointestinal irritation, cardiac issues and convulsions.
  • Azalea – The toxins in azalea plants can be very severe and potentially cause drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, central nervous system weakening and depression, and in some cases possibly coma or death.
  • Oleander – All portions of this plant are poisonous and can cause gastrointestinal irritation, hypothermia, heart problems and possibly death.
  • Castor Bean – Poisoning as a result of this plant can cause abdominal pain, drooling, diarrhea, vomiting increased thirst, loss of appetite and weakness.  More serious cases could also lead to dehydration, tremors, seizures, twitching muscles, coma and possibly death.
  • Cyclamen – The most poisonous portion of this plant is located in the root.  Ingestion of the plant can cause severe vomiting and gastrointestinal irritation.  In some cases death has been reported as a result.
  • Kalanchoe – Ingestion of this plant can cause gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac rhythm and rate problems.
  • Yew – Poisoning as a result of the yew plant can affect the nervous system and cause in-coordination, trembling and breathing difficulties.  It may also result in gastrointestinal irritation, cardiac failure and could possibly lead to death.


4 responses to “Cats and Easter Lilies don’t mix. I found out the hard way.”

  1. reno emergency vet Avatar
    reno emergency vet

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    1. BJ Avatar

      Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be visiting your blog in the near future.

  2. Mom 2 the Parnell Cats Avatar
    Mom 2 the Parnell Cats

    I had an episode with something you would never expect a cat to go after. Not toxic, but still deadly. I had the Sunday paper on the table, with the thick plastic band that held it closed laying next to it. I came out of my room and just caught my flame point Siamese swallowing the last of it. Now another cat had the bad habit of eating curly ribbon, which fortunately always passed, but this was thick and rather hard plastic. I called the emrgency clinic and they said to try giving him peroxide, to make him throw up. I was unable to hold Redford and get it down his throat. They said to watch and see if he began vomiting later and he did. By then it was Monday AM and I took him to my vet. An x-ray verified that he did still have this long band inside and they suggested keeping him, to see if they could get it to pass. That way, if things went bad, he would be where they could work on him immediately. They gave him copious amounts of vegetable oil and thankfully the band did pass, so we didn’t have to do surgery, but he spent a night at the vet’s. And from the moment we walked out the door, with him in the carrier, until we walked back into my apt., Redford yelled. He cried and cried at the vet’s and in the car, both ways. And he was an oily mess; obviously they had battled to get that oil down him. Now I never leave ribbons, plastic or rubber bands, etc., available to our cats. Even if they have left something alone in the past, that is no guarantee that they will still ignore it!

  3. louise behiel Avatar
    louise behiel

    Poor baby. Glad you knew enough to get him to emerg

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