Paws Off Lilies: Keeping Your Cat Safe | PetFirst
Claws Off Lilies: Keeping Your Cat Safe
Pet Care & Health

Paws Off Lilies: Keeping Your Cat Safe

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
1 month ago

Cat parents, beware!  Those beautiful plants with large eye-catching flowers known as Lilies, or more correctly Lilium (True lilies) or Hemerocallis (Daylilies) can be fatal to your cat. 

Growing from bulbs buried underground, these plants can be found in Europe, across most of Asia to Japan, India, Indochina, and the Philippines as well as from southern Canada and throughout much of the United States. 

Recognize the danger and keep paws off as all parts of these breathtaking plants are toxic to your feline family member. 

Toxic Varieties

The Pet Poison Helpline6 singles out the following varieties as toxic to cats:

  • Asiatic lily – including hybrids (Lilium asiatica)
  • Day lily (Hemerocallis species)
  • Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum)
  • Japanese Show lily (Lilium speciosum)
  • Rubrum lily (Lilium speciosum var. rubrum)
  • Stargazer lily (Lilium ‘Stargazer’- a hybrid)
  • Tiger lily (Lilium tigrinum or lancifolium)
  • Wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum or umbellatum)

If you have any of these plants in your yard or home, make sure your cat cannot access them. It may also be best to consider removing them if at all possible. Additionally, before letting your kitty roam the neighborhood, these potential dangers are also something to consider so that you can help keep your cat safe. 

Additional Dangers to Consider 

Even if you cat is not prone to ingesting plants, realize the vase water she may drink from is toxic as well as the pollen. If your cat rubs against a lily getting pollen on her fur and then grooms herself she would also be ingesting toxins. An additional danger comes in the form of fertilizer, weed killer, and insecticide found on or systemically inside the plant as well as the mulch it may be growing in7.

Although other plants may have “lily” in their common name, they may not be as dangerous to your precious feline. Most will cause oral and/or gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea with heart arrhythmia being a potential symptom caused by the Lily-of-the-Valley. 

Other examples include the:

  • Calla lily (Zantedeschia species)
  • Peace lily (Spathiphyllum species)

Both of these varieties contain calcium oxalate crystals which irritate a pet’s tongue, throat, and esophagus. You may notice your cat (or dog) pawing at their mouth in pain, drooling, foaming, or experiencing vomiting and diarrhea. Breathing problems occur rarely, but you should get to your veterinarian quickly just in case. 

Signs & Symptoms

Within the first 12 hours, typical signs of true lily or day lily toxicity in cats include8:

  • decreased activity
  • vomiting and/or drooling
  • loss of appetite

Signs of kidney damage may occur 12-24 hours after ingestion:

  • increased urination
  • dehydration

Kidney failure generally occurs within 24 – 72 hours after ingestion of toxic lilies, leading to death if the cat is not quickly treated.

What You Should Do

As with most poisonings and illnesses of all types, early veterinary intervention is a must to save the life of the animal. Any delay or continued ingestion will likely result in irreversible kidney failure.

If you even suspect that your cat has ingested any part of a lily, drank water from a vase with lilies or has come in contact with pollen, call your veterinarian or pet poison center at once!

Depending on the variety of lily, prompt medical treatment may be critical to saving your cat’s life, so if you can bring the plant along, or a photo of it on your cell phone, your vet can determine the degree pf toxicity and better prescribe treatment for a happy outcome.

Here at PetFirst1, we know accidents and illnesses can happen to all pets. PetFirst Pet Insurancecan help cover unexpected vet visits2 and can provide peace of mind. PetFirst Pet Insurance1  has cat and dog insurance policies2 to fit every budget. 

Consider getting pet insurance for your furry friend today.

 Denise Fleck is the Pet Safety Crusader™ having personally taught more than 20,000 humans to rescue Rover or help Fluffy feel better.  Her mission is to help YOU make a difference in the life of an animal through Pet First-Aid, Senior Pet Care and Disaster Preparedness classes, her “The Pet Safety Bible,” and the dozen other books she has penned.  Learn more at

1PetFirst Healthcare, LLC (“PetFirst Pet Insurance” or “PetFirst”) is the program administrator authorized to offer and administer pet health insurance policies underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company, with its main office at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, or New Hampshire Insurance Company or The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, each with its main administrative office at 500 West Madison Street, Suite 3000 Chicago, IL 60661. For costs, complete details of coverage, and a listing of approved states, please contact PetFirst Healthcare, LLC.

2Like most insurance policies, insurance policies offered by PetFirst Healthcare, LLC contain certain exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force.  

6 “No Lilies for Kitties,” by Amanda Poldoski, DVM, The Pet Poison Helpline.

7 “Lawn and Garden Chemicals and Plants Poisonous to Cats and Dogs,” West Arbor Animal Hospital, March 23, 2020.

8 “Lovely Lilies & Curious Cats: A Dangerous Combination,” U.S. Food & Drug Administration, August 19, 2019.

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