Easter can be loads of fun for kids and adults but a hazardous holiday weekend for pets. Years ago, I was given Easter lilies from a patient. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I have cats at home (lilies are highly toxic to cats) so I left them at the office.
Easter Pet Safety Video by Dr. Jennifer Jaycox
With Mother's Day Around the Corner
Although I knew that lilies were toxic to cats, I wanted to know which ones were the most dangerous and exactly what they looked like. I also wondered how safe daffodils are for pets and what kind of flowers are a safe alternative to give during Easter and for Mother's Day.
David Morris (revdave on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericDuring my research, I was alarmed to learn that every part of a "true" lily can kill a cat - and fairly rapidly (within 72 hours). The pollen, fallen leaves, or the water they are stored in are highly toxic to cats and cause acute kidney failure.
In fact, veterinarians advise that lilies with Latin names that include Lilium or Hemerocallis never enter a home or be accessible to an outdoor cat either.
If you are aware of a cat that comes in contact with a lily, he or she must be treated by a veterinarian within a matter of hours.
Up next is a must-see public service announcement by Lisa Larson. I agree with the plea at the end of her video which states:
"Contact your congressperson. Ask if they would be willing to sponsor a bill requiring florists and retailers to place notifications on lilies."
Lilies Can Kill Cats by Lisa Larson
Pawstalk Animal Communication & Reiki
Keep Cats Away From These Lilies
Even the Pollen or Water From the Vase is Deadly
As shown previously and below, Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum) are considered a symbol of the resurrection of Christ. I see them planted around churches and always hope that outdoor cats do not come in contact with them.
Tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium) are also known as Lilium tigrinum and are sometimes mistakenly identified as Ditch lilies (Hemerocallis fulva). But all are potentially fatal flowers if a cat even licks them.
Vanhoand at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia CommonsSometimes lily blooms are so heavy that they hang upside down (like those shown at right). A cat could easily rub against these flowers, get pollen on his or her fur, groom and become deathly ill.
Again, the most deadly to cats are lilies with the Lilium and Hemerocallis latin names. Lilies are not toxic to dogs or horses.
The clinical signs to look for in a cat that has come in contact with a lily are: vomiting, inappetence (lack of appetite), lethargy, kidney failure, and death.
Cats are the only species known to be affected. Contact your veterinarian or animal hospital or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 if you suspect a kitten or cat has ingested any part of a lily.
Up next are a series of photos of the most deadly types of lilies for felines to be around.
Easter or Mother's Day Flowers (Lilium Longiflorum)
Tiger Lily (Lilium Lancifolium or Lilium Tigrinum)
Day Lilies aka Daylilies (Hemerocallis Lilioasphodelus)
Asiatic Hybrid Lilies (Lilium) Come in Many Colours
Pink Japanese Lily (Lilium Speciosum)
Another Japanese Lily (Lilium Speciosum Clivorum)
Rubrum Lily (Lilium Speciosum Cultivar)
Lilium 'Stargazer' & Red Lily (Lilium Philadelphicum)
Western Red Lily | Wood Lily (Lilium Philadelphicum)
Calla Lilies and Daffodils Are Poisonous to Dogs and Cats
Jeffry (dreamsailors on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericThe calla lily (shown at right and comes in many colours) does NOT result in acute kidney failure when ingested. It is considered mild to moderately toxic to both cats and dogs.
The signs and symptoms of calla lily ingestion include: pawing at the face (secondary to oral pain), drooling, foaming at the mouth, and vomiting.
You may notice moderate to severe swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth, throat, and nose. It may become difficult for a cat or dog to breathe or even swallow. Call your vet, animal hospital or Animal Poison Control Center at 800-213-6680.
Johan Hansson (plastanka on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericDaffodils are considered mild to moderately toxic to cats and dogs too. The Pet Poison Helpline states: If you suspect your cat or dog has ingested daffodils (particularly the bulbs), contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for treatment recommendations.
Signs and symptoms of daffodil toxicity include: drooling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, abdominal pain, abnormal breathing patterns, and cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
By now, you might be wondering what flowers are safe to give and receive for Easter and Mother's Day.
TeleFlora does a fabulous job of listing alternative choices. I was impressed that they even consulted Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, DVM, PhD, DABVT, DABT, Vice President and Medical Director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Russell Bernice on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Their short list of "pet friendly" flowers and plants include:
- African daisy (Arctotis stoechadifolia)
- African violet (Saintpaulia spp.)
- Bachelors buttons (Centaureaa cyanus)
- Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
- Easter Daisy (Townsendia sevicea)
- Orchids (Barbrodia, Sophronitis, etc.)
- Peruvian lily, Brazilian lily
I think roses are perfect for any occasion and they are safe for pets too. But my cat Kady says, "Any empty Easter baskets would probably be most welcome by cats and their humans."