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Easter Lilly

Easter is almost upon us and one of most popular holiday plants is the Easter lily. Easter lilies are extremely toxic when ingested, and cats are most commonly affected because of their habits of nibbling on plants.

A few years ago my wife Carolynn received a belated birthday bouquet of lilies from her brother. It arrived on a Saturday morning. I came home at 1 pm from work and noticed this large bouquet of lilies on the counter. I asked my wife what are those, and she replied,” aren’t they beautiful? George sent them to me as a belated birthday gift!” I told her that we needed to get the lilies out of the house, they are extremely toxic if ingested, and we have 9 indoor cats. Carolynn was shocked and said that she already had to shoo several of the cats away from the flowers.

Thursday morning, she called me at work and said she noticed Midnight, our 1 ½ year old cat had not eaten now for the second day, and was hovering over the water bowl. I told her to bring him right in. His body temperature was 92 degrees Fahrenheit, 10 degrees below normal, and bloodwork revealed he was in profound kidney failure. We immediately began intra venous fluids, and placed him on a heating pad and transferred him to the Animal Emergency and Referral Center for critical care. We approved all measures to save, him including dialysis. He was there for 2 days and unfortunately did not respond. His kidneys completely shut down and I had to make the heartbreaking decision to euthanize my beautiful cat.
Lilies are extremely toxic, and all parts of the lilies are poisonous. A small piece ingested can cause irreversible kidney failure unless treatment is begun within 18 hours. We did not know Midnight had consumed the lily and by the time he showed clinical signs, it was too late. I urge all my clients not to have any lilies around the house. This is especially important during the Easter season as lilies are ubiquitous. Clinical signs are vomiting, dehydration, lethargy, inappetance, and increased thirst and urination as the kidneys fail. If a cat is known to have ingested lilies, it is critical they be taken to a veterinarian immediately. Vomiting is induced and intravenous fluids are begun. Mortality rates approach 100% in cats that are treated 18 hours or more after a lily is consumed.

I called the local news agencies, television stations and asked that my story be told to prevent another cat owner from going through the grief, we suffered. No one took us up on the offer, they didn’t feel it was newsworthy enough. I called FTD and asked that they consider placing warning labels on their Easter lilies so clients with cats can take preventive measures. It also fell on deaf ears. I hope this article informs cat owners, so no one has to go through the pain we suffered with our dear Midnight.

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