Keeping Cats Safe: Plants and Cats
Whilst cats are generally careful about what they eat, they can come into contact with a variety of plants, whether in the house or outside, that can be highly toxic. Feline charity International Cat Care (iCatCare) is highlighting some of the potential dangers in the month of May in their Keeping Cats Safe campaign.
This campaign was originally run in 2015 and 2016 and has been revived for 2020. Microchipping was the first topic in April, and ‘Plants and cats’ is the second topic of the campaign.
Plants account for a significant number of poisoning cases in cats, and this is reflected in the Veterinary Poison Information Service’s four most recently available annual reports, from 2014 to 2017. For each of these years, the most common enquiry specifically for cats was related to the Lilium species, or true lily.
Whilst a variety of plants will be discussed in the campaign, a major focus will be placed on lilies due to their extreme toxicity, popularity, and how commonly cats are affected by them.
Many plants have lily in their name, but it’s all species of Lilium (true lily) and Hemerocallis (day lily) that are most dangerous. As an attractive flower, lilies are popular in gardens, as well as in bouquets and flower arrangements, but they are extremely toxic to cats.
All parts of these plants are toxic, the pollen, flowers, stem and leaves. Ingestion of less than one leaf, or just part of a flower can cause severe poisoning and there are reports of cats developing renal failure after only being exposed to pollen. Even drinking the water from a vase holding cut lilies can be fatal. The toxin causes severe damage to the kidneys, which can cause kidney failure and result in death.
Signs of poisoning include:
- Refusing food
- On examination a vet may find enlarged and painful kidneys
If you suspect that your cat has been exposed to lilies, it’s important to seek veterinary advice immediately.
As part of this campaign, iCatCare is releasing a poster warning of the risks that lilies pose to cats that can be displayed by retailers, as well as a sticker that can either be embedded in a webpage or applied to lilies themselves. In this way the charity aims to spread the knowledge of the risks that lilies pose to cats as widely as possible, and also to provide a physical reminder to those purchasing these flowers to consider whether they’re likely to come into contact with a cat.
For more information, and to keep an eye on the Keeping Cats Safe campaign, visit: https://icatcare.org/our-campaigns/keeping-cats-safe/
I am the feline behaviour specialist at feline charity ‘International Cat Care’. We are about engaging, educating and empowering people throughout the world to improve the health and welfare of cats by sharing advice, training and passion.