Paws Off Lilies: Keeping Your Cat Safe

3 min read Jan 11, 2022

Cat parents, beware!  Not only can outdoor cats fall victim to allergies, but they can even suffer poisoning from flower toxicity.  Those beautiful plants with large eye-catching flowers known as Lilies, or more correctly Lilium (True lilies) or Hemerocallis (Daylilies) can be fatal to your cat. 

Growing from bulbs buried underground, these plants can be found in Europe, across most of Asia to Japan, India, Indochina, and the Philippines as well as from southern Canada and throughout much of the United States.
Recognize the danger and keep paws off as all parts of these breathtaking plants are toxic to your feline family member. 

Toxic Varieties
The Pet Poison Helpline singles out the following varieties as toxic to cats:

  • Asiatic lily – including hybrids (Lilium asiatica)
  • Day lily (Hemerocallis species)
  • Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum)
  • Japanese Show lily (Lilium speciosum)
  • Rubrum lily (Lilium speciosum var. rubrum)
  • Stargazer lily (Lilium ‘Stargazer’- a hybrid)
  • Tiger lily (Lilium tigrinum or lancifolium)
  • Wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum or umbellatum)

If you have any of these plants in your yard or home, make sure your cat cannot access them. It may also be best to consider removing them if at all possible. Additionally, before letting your kitty roam the neighborhood, these potential dangers are also something to consider so that you can help keep your cat safe.
Additional Dangers to Consider 

Even if you cat is not prone to ingesting plants, realize the vase water she may drink from is toxic as well as the pollen. If your cat rubs against a lily getting pollen on her fur and then grooms herself she would also be ingesting toxins. An additional danger comes in the form of fertilizer, weed killer, and insecticide found on or systemically inside the plant as well as the mulch it may be growing in.

Although other plants may have “lily” in their common name, they may not be as dangerous to your precious feline. Most will cause oral and/or gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea with heart arrhythmia being a potential symptom caused by the Lily-of-the-Valley. 

Other examples include the:

  • Calla lily (Zantedeschia species)
  • Peace lily (Spathiphyllum species)

Both of these varieties contain calcium oxalate crystals which irritate a pet’s tongue, throat, and esophagus. You may notice your cat (or dog) pawing at their mouth in pain, drooling, foaming, or experiencing vomiting and diarrhea. Breathing problems occur rarely, but you should get to your veterinarian quickly just in case. 

Signs & Symptoms

Within the first 12 hours, typical signs of true lily or day lily toxicity in cats include:

  • Decreased activity
  • Vomiting and/or drooling
  • Loss of appetite

Signs of kidney damage may occur 12-24 hours after ingestion:

  • Increased urination
  • Dehydration

Kidney failure generally occurs within 24 - 72 hours after ingestion of toxic lilies, leading to death if the cat is not quickly treated.

What You Should Do

As with most poisonings and illnesses of all types, early veterinary intervention is a must to save the life of the animal. Any delay or continued ingestion will likely result in irreversible kidney failure.

If you even suspect that your cat has ingested any part of a lily, drank water from a vase with lilies or has come in contact with pollen, call your veterinarian or pet poison center at once!

Depending on the variety of lily, prompt medical treatment may be critical to saving your cat’s life, so if you can bring the plant along, or a photo of it on your cell phone, your vet can determine the degree pf toxicity and better prescribe treatment for a happy outcome.

Here at MetLife Pet Insurance1, we know accidents and illnesses can happen to all pets. MetLife Pet Insurance can help cover unexpected vet visits2 and can provide peace of mind. MetLife Pet Insurance  has cat and dog insurance policies to fit every budget. 

Consider getting pet insurance for your furry friend today.

Protect your Cats

Coverage in 3 Easy Steps

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

6 “No Lilies for Kitties,” by Amanda Poldoski, DVM, The Pet Poison Helpline.

7 “Lawn and Garden Chemicals and Plants Poisonous to Cats and Dogs,” West Arbor Animal Hospital, March 23, 2020.

8 “Lovely Lilies & Curious Cats: A Dangerous Combination,” U.S. Food & Drug Administration, August 19, 2019.