Lily Poisoning in Cats

Barri J. Morrison, DVM
By Barri J. Morrison, DVM on Sep. 30, 2022
gray cat looking up at pink lilies

Colorful, unique, and fragrant, lilies are one of the most popular flowers in the world. They’re frequently displayed around Easter and Mother’s Day but often included in flower arrangements year-round.

While harmless to people, lilies are extremely poisonous and potentially fatal to cats. Households with cats should not have lilies inside the home or in the yard where cats can get near them.

Are Lilies Toxic to Cats?

Yes, lilies are toxic to cats. Many kinds of plants have “lily” as part of their name, but not all contain the same toxins.

Two species of toxic lilies were in the top five common exposures in 2020: true lilies (Lilium species) and daylilies (Hemerocallis species), which can both cause kidney failure in cats.

While the exact toxin has not been identified, exposure to any part of the plant can cause sudden kidney failure and even neurological signs in cats. Ingesting just small pieces of the petals, leaves, or even the pollen or water in the vase can result in severe, potentially irreversible and fatal kidney failure.

Lilies listed from MOST to LEAST toxic to cats:

  • True Lilies - Lilium species
    • Asiatic lily
    • Easter lily
    • Japanese show lily
    • Oriental lily
    • Rubrum lily
    • Stargazer lily
    • Tiger lily
    • Wood lily
  • Daylily - Hemerocallis species
  • Lily of the valley contains a cardiotoxin that is poisonous to your cat’s heart function, causing abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) and even death.
  • Gloriosa, Flame Lily: The toxic agent in the Gloriosa, or flame lily, is colchicine, which is toxic to rapidly dividing cells in the body, which can cause multiorgan failure in cats that chew on them.
  • Calla Lily and Peace Lily: Despite having "lily" in their name, the peace lily and calla lily are not true lilies and do not cause kidney failure in cats. These plants do, however, contain oxalate crystals that can cause milder signs, such as irritation in the mouth, tongue, throat, and esophagus.
  • Peruvian Lily: The least toxic of all lily plants is the Peruvian lily, which can cause mild stomach upset.

What Are the Signs of Lily Poisoning in Cats?

With true lilies and day lilies, signs of toxicity occur within 6-12 hours after ingestion, and fatal kidney failure can develop in less than 72 hours.

General signs of lily poisoning in cats:


  • Drooling, foaming
  • Vomiting
  • Pawing at the face (mouth pain)
  • Vocalizing

First 12 hours:

  • Diarrhea
  • Not eating, decreased appetite
  • Lethargy, decreased activity
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Ulcers or sores on the gums

12-24 hours:

  • Kidney damage starts to develop (daylilies and true lilies)
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Tremors

24+ hours:

  • Kidney damage can be fatal, and neurologic signs develop (daylilies and true lilies)
  • Seizures
  • Lack of urination
  • Disorientation
  • Inability to walk
  • Coma
  • Death

What to Do if Your Cat Has Eaten a Lily

If you think that your cat could have ingested any part of a lily plant, gotten pollen on their coat or in their mouth, or drunk the water from the vase, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 and take your cat directly to the veterinarian’s office or an emergency vet as soon as possible.

If possible, bring the plant with you to the veterinarian so they can identify the lily and offer the best treatment for your cat. If you have cats in the house and you find a chewed-on lily plant, your cat should be examined by their veterinarian as soon as possible as well. If they get any pollen on their skin, a bath will be needed to help reduce contamination, but this is best done at your vet’s office. The sooner treatment is started with a veterinarian, the better their prognosis for recovery. 

How Vets Treat Lily Poisoning in Cats

While there is no antidote for this poisoning, if it is detected early, your vet can provide supportive care to manage symptoms and provide your cat with the best chance of recovery.

If your cat recently ingested any part of the lily plant, generally within 2 hours, and has not vomited, your veterinarian will probably try to induce vomiting. Activated charcoal is also given by mouth to help absorb any toxins that might remain in your cat’s gut.

Baseline lab work, including a complete blood count (CBC), serum chemistry profile, and urinalysis are all important to evaluate your cat’s organ status, most importantly the kidneys. An abdominal ultrasound might also be recommended to see if there is any kidney damage.

IV fluids are the most important treatment, as they help prevent the kidneys from failing further and also prevent dehydration. These fluids should be given for a minimum of 48-72 hours while monitoring the amount of urine they are producing, which might require your cat to have a urinary catheter in place.

Supportive care and other treatments such as anti-nausea medications might be needed as well. While hospitalized, you cat will also have regular blood draws to continue to monitor the kidney enzymes. If your cat is not producing enough urine, that is a sign that the kidneys are shutting down and treatment might not be successful.

Can Cats Survive Lily Poisoning?

Unfortunately, even with aggressive treatment, there is no guarantee that your cat will survive a lily ingestion toxicity. Early veterinary treatment significantly improves your cat’s prognosis.

If treatment is delayed by 18 hours or more after ingestion, your cat will likely have irreversible kidney failure. In the later stages of kidney toxicity, approximately 24 hours after ingestion, if your cat stops urinating, this carries a very poor prognosis of survival.

If treatment was initiated before urine production decreases, your cat has a good chance or survival. If your cat survives a lily ingestion, they will need to have regular checkups and bloodwork after they are hospitalized to ensure that the kidneys are recovering.

Because lilies are so dangerous for cats and there’s a high risk of death if they’re ingested, it’s best to not bring these plants into your home if you have a cat. It’s also best if you don’t plant them in your garden if your cat goes outside or if your neighbors have outdoor cats. 

Featured image: Chub

Health Tools

Not sure whether to see a vet?

Answer a few questions about your pet's symptom, and our vet-created Symptom Checker will give you the most likely causes and next steps.

Barri J. Morrison, DVM


Barri J. Morrison, DVM


Barri Morrison was born and raised and currently resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She went to University of Florida for her...

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Get Instant Vet Help Via Chat or Video. Connect with a Vet. Chewy Health