Vets are issuing a new warning that lilies are so toxic, just licking their leaves or even drinking water contaminated with their pollen could have potentially fatal consequences.
Even drinking just the water from a vase containing lilies could be enough to kill a cat, vets have warned.
One cat, called Millie, from Wickham Bishops, in Essex, ended up on an IV drip after licking pollen from the flowers, which are popular at Easter.
Millie, whose mouth and paws were stained completely yellow as a result of the incident, was kept in overnight but survived the ordeal.
Vets Now is saying that hundreds of cats have been admitted to their out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 pet emergency hospitals as a result of coming into contact with the flowers.
They go one to claim that they treat around three cats a week for lily toxicity – and there is often a rise in cases around Easter.
Dave Leicester, who is Vets Now’s head of clinical intelligence, said: “We see a 50% rise in pet emergency cases around this time of year and often it’s due to cats and dogs eating things they shouldn’t such as lilies and chocolate Easter eggs.
Lilies are particularly poisonous to cats. They can cause severe diarrhea, convulsions, acute kidney failure and even death.
What makes them particularly dangerous is that all parts of the plant are toxic and even small ingestions, such as two or three leaves or petals, or water from a vase containing lilies, can be potentially fatal.
“In fact, even very small amounts of pollen can be extremely dangerous. Cats can swallow a toxic amount just by grooming after brushing against the flowers. Lilies are so dangerous we’d call on cat owners never to have them in their house.”
Among those who underwent the treatment was Diego, from Reading, who suffered acute kidney failure after eating lilies.
His treatment lasted for many weeks before he was allowed home.
Another case was a cat called Missie, from Northampton, who was put on a drip and treated with activated charcoal, which is used for toxic ingestions.
She had merely chewed on a lily leaf but suffered severe complications.
Cats of any age, breed and even gender can be affected by lily poisoning.
Owners who suspect their cat may have eaten a lily should not wait for signs or symptoms to appear before they contact a vet.
Instead, they should telephone their regular vet immediately or, out of hours, their nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic.
Mr. Leicester went on to say: “If you think your cat has eaten or even licked lilies, or you find lily pollen staining on her coat, nose or paws, you should seek urgent veterinary advice.
“It’s likely treatment will include intravenous fluids — a drip — and decontamination treatment. Early, aggressive treatment is essential for the best chance of success.”
It should be noted also that not all lilies are toxic to cats.
There are a few types — such as the Peruvian, peace and calla — that are benign.
However, unless you know exactly which flowers to keep an eye out for, you’re probably better avoiding them.
The most dangerous lilies of all for cats are those belonging to the Lilium or Hemerocallis species.
The types include tiger, day, Asiatic hybrid, Easter, Japanese show, rubrum, stargazer, red, western, and wood lilies.
The lily of the valley is also very dangerous as it can cause an irregular heartbeat in cats when eaten.