There are many variations of Lily plants which are considered toxic to small animal patients. The most common Lily plants which we seen ingested are Easter lily, Tiger Lily, Red Lily, Western Lily, Daylily, and Stargazer Lily. Ingestion of any portion of the plant can be toxic which include the plant material (leaves, stems, flowers) and water containing plant material or pollen.
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The target organs for the toxin are the kidneys (primarily), gastrointestinal tract, and nervous system. Death can occur after ingestion of a single plant in cats. Signs can often be seen within the first 6-12 hours of exposure and include vomiting, anorexia, and lethargy which occur prior to renal failure. Renal failure signs include increased thirst/urination, inability to produce urine, severe dehydration, and depression. Neurologic signs which may also be seen include ataxia, head pressing, tremors and seizures.
Therapy is directed at detoxification/decontamination if ingestion was more recent (causing vomiting, washing off pollen, GI binding agent), prevention of renal failure (aggressive intravenous fluids), and supportive/symptomatic care (gastro protectants, anti-vomiting/nausea medications).
Monitoring kidney and electrolyte values at time of presentation to the hospital and through the first 48 hours post ingestion is very important as progression can be rapid and managed best when caught early. Prognosis is very dependent on both dose of toxin ingested and timing of treatment. Cats that are treated greater than 18 hours after exposure often develop renal disease/failure. If treated aggressively and early (within 18 hours of exposure), prognosis is often good. Cats that develop fulminant renal failure may still recover but chronic renal disease often persists.