The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 2, 2013

Being a nosey cat can be fatal with Easter lillies

By MARGIE NETZEL - mnetzel@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

Easter lilies are a fragrant spring gift for mothers and grandmothers, but the white blooms and fibrous leaves can be poisonous to pets, especially cats, local veterinarian Becky Salinger said.

Cats can become ill even if they don’t chew on the plants, Salinger of Austinburg Veterinary Clinic, said.

“Most cats are drawn to eating grasses and plants,” she said. “They do not have a special sense that lets them know what they are eating is toxic to them. With lilies, even the pollen can cause toxicity, so sniffing the flowers and getting pollen on themselves and then cleaning it off can cause illness. So just being a nosey cat can get a cat into serious problems.”

The toxin in lilies is water soluble and potentially deadly, Salinger said.

A poisoned cat will suffer from acute kidney failure. It may vomit or drink excessive amounts of water, Salinger said. It may urinate a lot, stop eating and appear “wobbly.”

Salinger said the owner of a poisoned feline will need to take immediate action to save the kitty’s life.

“Contacting the ASPCA poison control is always the best thing with any potential toxin ingestion,” she said. “With all the different poisons and medications pets can get into, there is no way for your family veterinarian to know to how to treat them all.”

The ASPCA poison control maintains a database and has veterinary toxicologists on staff to handle any toxin ingestion.

“It does cost about $65 for the call, but many pet insurance plans cover the fee,” Salinger said.

Pets enrolled in the Home Again microchip program can call the number free of charge.

“When the owner calls, the ASPCA poison control will tell him what action, if any, needs to be taken,” Salinger said. “For some toxins it may be inducing vomiting with hydrogen peroxide, or they may be advised to take the cat to veterinarian.”

The sooner a pet vomits, the faster the poison is removed from the animal’s system and the less toxin is absorbed, she said.

Salinger said pet owners need to think twice about anything they bring into a home with pets.

“Just like any potential poison, if it is in the house you cannot be 100 percent sure that the pet will not get into it. We recommend not bringing lilies into the house, and if you are sending flowers and you know they have pets, let the florist know to not include things like lilies or baby’s breath, which is also poisonous.”

Austinburg Veterinary Clinic also maintains a searchable website at www.austinburgvetclinic.com, with more than 1,000 articles, videos and an interactive “sick pet” checker.