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Easter lily is a beautiful gift but deadly for cats

Provide cat grass to cats that may be tempted to snack on a toxic lily
Provide cat grass to cats that may be tempted to snack on a toxic lily Photo by jjjj56cp Foter CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Easter is a wonderful holiday to celebrate with family- pets included. Like so many other holidays the celebration can unintentionally pose a threat to a cat or dog. One common Easter gift is lethal to cats and symptoms can show up in as little as six hours.

The spring celebration usually involves chocolate that can be a deadly treat for a dog. Something else to consider is the Easter grass that lines the bottom of most Easter gift baskets. It can create dangerous intestinal damage if ingested by a dog or cat, resulting in expensive vet bills.

The real Easter enemy for pets is the beautiful Easter lily. This glorious white flower is highly toxic to cats. There are many lilies and other flowers that are deadly if ingested by a cat including the popular poinsettias we see at Christmas. According to an article published on Pet Poison Helpline they receive hundreds of calls this time of year from people concerned about a cat that has ingested Easter lilies.

It’s not surprising- according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Easter lilies are the fourth largest crop in whole sale value in the U.S. potted plant market. These lilies are popular as gifts and holiday home décor making it easy for cats to ingest them. Cats just love eating plants- one suggestion is to have cat grass available in case cats are tempted.

What makes this particular plant so toxic is that all parts of the plant carry the poison that could kill a cat- from the leaves and petals to a small dose of pollen. If a cat ingests even the smallest amount of the flower or leaves that pet should be rushed to the veterinarian immediately. If left untreated the survival of the cat is extremely low.

“All parts of the Easter lily plant are poisonous – the petals, the leaves, the stem and even the pollen. Cats that ingest as few as one or two leaves, or even a small amount of pollen while grooming their fur, can suffer severe kidney failure,” Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline said in an interview for Pet Poison Helpline.

According to Pet Poison Helpline early symptoms include loss of appetite, dehydration and vomiting. The cat can become disoriented and dehydrated as the poison attacks it from the inside. Kidney failure can develop within six to eight hours. Seizures and a loss of mobility can occur making it a very frightening sight to see.

Unfortunately there is no antidote to cure of relieving the toxin and the cat is treated by inducing vomiting and drinking charcoal so that the toxins do not spread further throughout the body. Extreme cases may need more extreme treatment but either way treating it early is the best way to ensure that your cat survives the poison.

“There is no effective antidote to counteract lily poisoning, so the sooner you can get your cat to the veterinarian, the better his chances of survival will be,” Brutlag told Pet Poison Helpline. “If you see your cat licking or eating any part of an Easter lily, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately. If left untreated, his chances of survival are low.”

Beautiful flowers are not worth it and if at all possible cat owners should try to keep toxic lilies out of the house. If Easter lilies are a must try providing your cat with a plant it can eat- cat grass! You can reach Pet Poison Helpline at It is easy to grow and good for their digestive health. Keep lilies up high out of reach and cat grass easily available to curve temptation and your cat is sure to have a safe and happy Easter.

Pet Poison Helpline is a 24/7 resource for pet parents to help diagnose toxins ingested by animals. Call a veterinarian for help at 800-213-6680.