Getting to the Bottom of the Dangers of Easter Lilies

March 27, 2019

You’ve probably heard by now that lilies are something you should be wary of around your furry friends—particularly your feline friends. But what you may not know is just how dangerous these pretty, popular springtime flowers can be. With Easter rapidly approaching and the spring season on the horizon, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants to make sure that you’ve got all the facts and know how much of a hazard these flowers (Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum) in particular) pose to your pets.

Which Lilies Are the Most Dangerous? 

The following are the most commonly seen types of lilies in the U.S. and can be extremely toxic if ingested by a cat. 

Asiatic Lilies (Lilium sp.)

These lilies can be grown outside throughout most of the United States. Asiatic Lilies often have large, trumpet-shaped blooms in a wide range of colors including yellow, white, orange, pink and red. Lilies commonly seen around Easter are in this group due to their festive, spring colors.

Daylilies (Hemerocallis sp.)

Daylily flowers are also very colorful and have a similar appearance to Asiatic lilies. The main difference is the foliage and surrounding leaves, which have a grassy appearance. 

Why Are these Lilies So Dangerous?

Lilies, especially the ones that fall in the above categories, have been proven to be extremely toxic to cats. Eating even a small piece of any of the plant material, including the leaves, stems and roots, licking pollen off of their faces or even drinking water from a vase that has had lilies in it can be deadly to a curious cat. 

The main concern surrounding lily ingestion is kidney failure, which can be life-threatening. It only takes a small exposure to cause acute kidney injury. 

What Should I Do If My Pet Ingests These Plants?

Catching exposures to lilies quickly is critical. If caught early, kidney failure can be prevented by aggressive treatment at a veterinary hospital. However, it is often fatal if treatment is delayed longer than 18 hours after ingestion of or exposure to a toxin.

If you believe that your cat might have been exposed to or ingested a lily, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately. You will likely need to seek veterinary care swiftly. 

If you are a pet parent with a cat or kitten in your home, avoid bringing this flower inside, and keep any Easter bouquets far out of paws’ reach. 

The best way to ensure that your pet doesn’t come into close contact with this deadly plant is to inspect any incoming bouquets this Easter—and every day of the year—and don’t leave plants in places that are easily accessible to your cats. If you are thinking of planting lilies in your garden, be sure to keep your pets out of the area.

Also, use APCC’s full list of poisonous plants to help you protect your pets year-round. Or, download the APCC Mobile App for everything you need to know about potential pet dangers, right in the palm of your hand!