Easter Lily or Trumpet Lily Toxicosis in Cats

Filed Under: Cats, Poisoning

The “Easter” or “trumpet lily”, whose scientific name is Lilium longiflorum, is a plant which is grown from bulbs. The plant itself has large, showy, funnel-formed flowers. The trumpet lily is popular at Easter, and for many it is symbolic of the resurrection of Christ. Sales of these lilies at Easter help to make them the fourth most popular selling potted plant in the United States. Unfortunately, these short-lived plants can shorten the life of your cat to days when eaten.

Throughout the plant is a yet unidentified toxin that will result in kidney failure in cats, 1 to 4 days following ingestion. This toxin is not reported as toxic to other species of animals.

Additional lilies causing acute kidney toxicosis in the cat when ingested include: the tiger lily (L. tigrinum, L. rubrum, day lilies (Hemerocallis spp), Asiatic lilies, and various Japanese showy lilies (L. speciosum and L. lancifolium).

Clinical signs of toxicosis include emesis (vomiting), lethargy (depression), and anorexia (loss of appetite) within 12 hours of ingestion. Kidney function tests such as BUN, creatinine, phosphorus, and potassium levels will be elevated on serum chemistry and will be indicative of kidney failure. Isosthenuria (extremely concentrated urine) will develop initially, followed terminally by anuria (urine is no longer being produced).

Immediately following ingestion cats should be induced to vomit with emetics, followed by multiple doses of activated charcoal to limit absorption, and a saline cathartic (a substance which causes evacuation of the bowls).

Treatment is primarily supportive for renal failure and largely involves fluid diuresis. Peritoneal dialysis may be helpful in anuric cats (cats no longer producing urine).

When plant material is not effectively evacuated or when treatment is delayed, lily ingestion is associated with a poor prognosis in cats. Death results from renal tubular epithelial cell necrosis.

References:

Ettinger, Stephen and Edward Feldman. Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Pp. Elsevier. 2005. Pp. 244 and 253.

Kahn, Cynthia. The Merck Veterinary Manual. 9th Edition. 2005. Merck and Co. Pp. 2438-2439.

Topics: easter lily, plants, poisoning, trumpet lily

Symptoms: decreased appetite, lethargy, vomiting

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