Haggis, a striking Maine Coon cat, had a very lucky escape from lily poisoning after brushing up against a bouquet of lilies, the pollen from which turned hiswhitefuryellow. Had Haggis begun to groom the pollen from his fur, he would almost certainly have suffered kidney damage and may have died. Haggis’s lucky escape was due to the vigilance of this owner, who checked whether lily pollen could be poisonous. As soon as she discovered that the pollen could cause kidney failure if ingested, she immediately washed Haggis and took him straight to the vet where he was put on intravenous fluids and kept in for two days. Fortunately Haggis developed no problems and was allowed home with no adverse effects.
Haggis’s story came to light as part of the charity International Cat Care’s (iCatCare) Keeping Cats Safe campaign, which during the month of September is highlighting the danger lilies pose to cats. Lilies are frequently used in flower arrangements for their attractive appearance and fragrant flowers, however many people are still unaware of the danger they pose to cats. Eating any part of the lily – flowers, leaves, stem or pollen – or even drinking the water from a vase with lilies in it, is extremely dangerous to cats. Once ingested the toxin causes severe damage to the kidneys and in severe cases the kidneys fail completely. Signs of poisoning include drooling, vomiting, refusing food, lethargy and depression and a vet may find enlarged and painful kidneys on examination.
The message of iCatCare’s campaign is that if you own a cat, never keep lilies in the house and should you suspect that your cat has been exposed to lilies, you seek immediate veterinary advice. Claire Bessant, Chief Executive of iCatCare said: ‘The unusual thing about the case of Haggis is that the outcome was good, which sadly is quite often not the case. Many owners are still unaware of the danger of lilies to their cats and cats often die as a result of poisoning. We hope that this campaign and the case of Haggis will highlight the danger.’ iCatCare has put together information for owners and veterinary professionals on its website, including a downloadable ‘lethal lilies’ poster. The charity will continue to raise awareness of this campaign and will be working more closely with supermarkets and florists on clearer labelling of bouquets and flower arrangements which contain lilies.
For more information about lily toxicity see: http://icatcare.org/advice/keeping-cats-safe/lilies. Full details about the Keeping Cats Safe campaign can also be found at: Keeping Cats Safe