A cat who has licked or ingested any amount of the Lily plant needs immediate veterinary care. Prompt medical intervention can save the cat’s life.
The Liliaceae family contains more than 160 genera of plants; however only plants belonging to the genera Lilium (true lilies) and Hemerocallis (day lilies) have been associated with renal failure in cats. The toxic principle in lilies is unknown. All parts of the plant are toxic, with the flowers being the most toxic part. Even exposure to the pollen can result in renal injury and necessitates veterinary intervention.
Most cases of untreated lily intoxication cause acute renal failure within 12-36 hours, with death occurring 3-5 days after exposure.
Cats exposed to the toxic plants will display vomiting, lethargy, and anorexia within two hours of exposure. Some signs may temporarily subside but return within 12-24 hours as renal injury progresses. Other clinical signs include depression, hypersalivation, ataxia, tremors, vocalization, weakness, increased drinking, lack of urination, and seizures.
Treatment involves decontamination, activated charcoal, IV fluid therapy for 48-72 hours, and supportive care. A recent report indicated that early intervention resulted in 90% of exposed cats surviving, with no evidence of permanent renal injury.