The Full Story
Easter Lily is the common name for Lilium longiflorum. This fragrant seasonal plant is extremely poisonous for cats. Eating small amounts of any part of this plant can cause dangerous symptoms and lead to death from kidney failure.
Early symptoms include vomiting, which may begin only two hours after a cat eats part of an Easter lily. Laboratory evidence of kidney damage begins after a day or so.
There is no specific antidote. To be effective, treatment by a veterinarian must begin no later than eighteen hours after exposure. Immediate treatment, which can limit the amount of plant material absorbed, is much better.
Cats seem to be the only species that suffers kidney failure after eating Easter lily. This plant is not poisonous to children, though it should be kept out of reach because children can choke on plant pieces.
Rose Ann Gould Soloway, RN, BSN, MSEd, DABAT emerita
Cat owners should consider NOT buying Easter lilies, or other lily species.
This Really Happened
A 3-year-old previously-healthy Maine coon cat began vomiting on Easter morning, vomited through the day, and started vomiting again on Monday morning. At the veterinarian's office, the cat was still vomiting. Though the cat was an indoor cat, the owner found a piece of leaf in the cat's vomitus. The only plant in the house was an Easter lily, received as a gift the day before Easter.
The cat was dehydrated and had blood and glucose in his urine. Acute renal failure was diagnosed. The cat received fluids and dialysis for two weeks before being sent home with permanent kidney damage.
Reference: Steenbergen VM. Beautiful lilies - a potential cat-astrophe. Vet Technician. 2002;April.