13 Oct Patient of the Week – Joey
Joey came to Mountainside after ingesting leaves of a lily plant. He vomited afterwards at home and seemed to be doing fine, but his owners knew they were toxic, so they brought him to us. Joey received 48 hours of IV fluids to support his kidney function, baseline bloodwork and urinalysis, and ongoing serial bloodwork to monitor his kidney function over time.
There are many types of lilies. Not all lilies are severely toxic to cats, but two species are (“True Lilies” and “Day Lilies”). The petals, pollen, leaves, and even water in a vase a lily is kept in is toxic. Other species can cause mild toxicities or aren’t toxic at all. The reason that lilies are toxic to cats isn’t fully understood, but it is thought that when cats digest them a toxic metabolite is created which affects the kidneys.
After lily ingestion, in the first few hours cats can become nauseous (vomiting, drooling), and then over the next day or two kidney damage will progress and can lead to complete renal failure. This can become fatal within days to a week.
To prevent this, it is best to keep lilies out of the home! If your cat has gotten into lilies (or any plants, if you are unsure of their toxicity) clean their face to remove any pollen and bring your cat and the plant to a veterinarian as soon as possible. If it is a recent ingestion, vomiting will be induced, and oral decontamination will be given. Your cat will be kept in the hospital for a 2–3-day period while they are clearing the toxin from the body. Their blood will be taken to evaluate their organ function on arrival, and in the days following.
Lilies are not as harmful to dogs as they are to cats, but they can still cause gastrointestinal upset. If you are unsure about something your dog or cat has ingested, we advise that you call the ASPCA poison control line to talk to a veterinary toxicology expert and make your way to your regular veterinarian or an emergency clinic.