It was another typical crazy busy Monday. The phone wouldn't stop ringing and we were yet again paying the price of having the audacity of closing for a holiday the day before. Our appointments were booked, people were walking in with sick pets and we were all trying to catch up on each others holiday.
After a day of juggling needs of all sizes and shapes I arrived home and melted on the couch. Within a few minutes I received a text from one of my groomers. She had been given an Easter Lily from a dear client and had happily brought it home. Within a few minutes of arriving in her home her cat was investigating the lily the best way they know how, nibbling on it.
She quickly went online to investigate and then alerted me.
Here's what I told her;
Easter Lily's are a very common plant given as gifts for the Passover and Easter holiday. Unfortunately they are very, very toxic to cats.
They can cause some gi upset in dogs, but for cats even a few leaves can cause severe damage to the kidneys. Ingestion of any part of the lily is toxic. Even consuming less than one leaf can be fatal.
Within 2 hours a cat that eats a piece of the lily will usually show some or all of the following clinical signs: vomiting, lethargy, depression, and anorexia (not eating). By twelve hours the vomiting usually ceases but the lethargy and depression worsen. The blood work will also start to change at about 12 hours post ingestion. The values that we are concerned about all pertain to the kidneys. The blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, potassium, and phosphorus. These values can rise from between 12-72 hours post exposure.
For cats that we believe have recently ingested a piece of lily we induce vomiting. Vomiting in cats is a tricky predicament. The common agents that we use for dogs, hydrogen peroxide, don't work well (or at all) in cats and can be dangerous. Many practitioners use xylazine in the muscle to cause vomiting. I read one experts opinion of inducing vomiting in cats that I thought was put very well. They describe "inducing vomiting in cats is like trying to herd them, there are several things to try, but none work very well." (Tina Wismer DVM, DAVBT, DABT). These include, hydrogen peroxide, xylazine, and apomorphine. Hydrogen peroxide can cause severe gastric hemorrhage (bleeding in the stomach). After inducing vomiting we then give activated charcoal (to bind any remaining lily left in the stomach), a cathartic agent, and start i.v. fluids for about 48 hours, or until the blood levels are back to within normal range.
The treatment for cats that have ingested any pieces of a lily the recommended treatment plan is fluid diuresis via iv fluids for 48 hours. If the renal values are normal (we get a baseline at arrival) then we wean the cat off of the fluids over the next 12-24 hours. Fluid diuresis is much like people getting dialysis. We can protect the kidneys by diluting out the toxin so that less of it can damage the kidneys.
After all of this scary information the best advice is to keep the lily's out of the house and far away from cats.
The best advice that I can give you is to be proactive. If you think your cat ate even a little bit get immediate emergency care.
With love from Loon. The quiet, not-so-curious cat.
Happy Spring!, from my back yard to you.
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