Flowers Causing Renal Failure in Cats

Did You Know the Dangers of Lilies to Pets?

Lilies (Lilium spp and Hemerocallis spp), amongst many other flower species,  are extremely toxic to cats and can be fatal. The toxic substance in lilies that causes injury to the kidneys has not yet been identified, but all parts of the lily are poisonous – flowers, stamen, stem, leaves and roots. Ingestion can lead to severe kidney failure. Although Lilies are a popular choice in flowers, a cat can be in complete kidney failure within 36-72 hours of ingestion. Cats that ingest any form of the lily species should be taken to a veterinarian immediately for intensive treatment.

Owners should make sure their cats never have access to Lilies of any kind.

Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Depression
  • Excessive thirst
  • Reduced urination

The key to successful treatment is early recognition of possible ingestion and veterinary management of the ensuing kidney failure.

Flowers that Felix ingested
Felix after having Activated Charcoal

Last week Felix, a 9 year old British Short Hair cat, had access to toxic lilies after his mum was gifted them for her birthday. Felix’s mum knew the dangers of lily toxicity but with the excitement of her birthday it didn’t even register. After waking up the next morning to find scattered petals surrounding the vase, Felix was rushed to the Booval Vet Hospital to begin intensive treatment.

Treatment involved running blood work to asses Felix’s kidneys, and being that he already had a pre-existing kidney disease, they were elevated. Felix was immediately placed on a high rate of intravenous fluids in aid to flush out the toxin, as well as be administered 70mls of activated charcoal via mouth!

Activated charcoal is used to treat many types of oral poisonings. Charcoal is made from coal, wood, or other substances and becomes “activated charcoal” when high temperatures combine with a gas or activating agent to expand its surface area.  When administered in correct quantities, the activated charcoal binds to the toxins, capturing it until the body can pass it through defecation.


48 hours later, bloods were re run on Felix to monitor his kidney function, and luckily, Felix was in the clear. Mum ensured Felix came home to a flower free home! Hopefully next year, Felix’s mum will get chocolates instead of flowers!

Flower Toxicity Facts

Absorption of Activated Charcoal

Did you know:

The most frequently reported plants causing toxicity to cats:

• Lilies 20%
• Aroids 13%
• Cycads 9%
• Golden pothes 8%
• Various berries 7%
• Ivy 6%
• Yew 6%
• Oleander 6%
• Avocado 4%
• Hibiscus 4%

The remaining 19% is made up of:

• Marijuana
• Tomato leaves
• Asparagus
• Plums
• Apricots

 Only 27% of cat owners know of the dangers lilies pose to their cat!

19% of cat poisonings are due to plants!

Animal poisoningis  twice as likely during the summer months

 Average cost for evaluation, stabilisation and treatment: $600-1,200

Dialysis costs for one week $3,000-4,000