Cats Protection said the flowers are “extremely toxic” and can harm cats even if they simply brush past the flower and then groom the pollen from the fur.
“Lilies are one of the most common forms of poisoning in cats and we can’t emphasise enough just how dangerous they can be,” said the charity’s spokesperson Louise Waters. “The toxins can cause them to go into kidney failure and this can be fatal.”
Luke Proudfoot, 23, from London nearly lost his young cat Myra when he noticed she had pollen on her nose after brushing past a bunch of lilies. He rushed Myra to the emergency vet where she was immediately put on a drip as she was drowsy and dangerously dehydrated.
“Thankfully she made a full recovery but I would never have bought lilies if I’d have known how deadly they could be,” said Luke. “I think it’s really important that people should be warned not to buy them for cat owners as it would be so awful if you ended up being responsible for the death of their pet.”
Symptoms of poisoning aren’t always obvious. Some of the most common signs are increased thirst, acting confused or uncoordinated, drooling, struggling to breathe, fitting/seizures and vomiting. If a cat exhibits any of these symptoms, Cats Protection advises getting it to a vet as soon as possible for urgent treatment.
Lily poisoning in particular can cause continued vomiting and in extreme cases: blindness, paralysis, renal failure and coma.
Other flowers that are poisonous for cats include:
Plants such as umbrella plants, rubber plants, ferns, ivy, Christmas plants, poinsettia, holly and mistletoe are also dangerous.
If you suspect your cat has been poisoned by eating any of the above, try to find evidence of what your cat has eaten and take a sample to the vet - along with your cat - immediately. Even a sample of vomit may help diagnosis, particularly if it is an unusual colour or contains plant matter.
Do not wait for symptoms or assume they’ll go away. Equally, don’t try to make your cat vomit or feed them salt water.