Lilies are beautiful, but are highly toxic to cats!
The toxic principle of lilies is not known. Any exposure to any part of the lily, even pollen, should be considered potentially toxic and treated aggressively. The toxin is water soluble and even exposure to the water that the lilies have been sitting in can be dangerous.
Lily poisoning results in kidney failure, and unfortunately mortality rates are reported to be high. The initial clinical signs of poisoning include lack of appetite, vomiting and hypersalivation. Signs associated with acute kidney injury (such as lethargy, excessive thirst and urination, dehydration) can develop 12-18 hours after ingestion.
Any cat that has been exposed should be assessed immediately by a veterinarian. Treatment typically involves inducing vomiting or removing plant material via gastric lavage ('stomach pump'), administration of activated charcoal and/or cathartic agents, intravenous fluid therapy for a minimum of 48 hours, and supportive care. Regular blood and urine tests are required for monitoring.
One of the most common scenarios associated with lily exposure in cats is when a person is gifted a bunch of flowers containing lilies, with the inquisitive cat investigating the new bunch of flowers. Cat owners should never have lilies inside or outside of their house. Please spread the word to keep our feline friends safe!
Cats are inquisitive by nature, and while they don't tend to scavenge on dangerous food items as often as dogs do, they do get themselves in a pickle when they swallow common household items.
Over the years, we have have treated cats that have ingested all of these items: needles and pins, string, wool, ribbon, marbles, Lego, water bomb balloons, dental floss, hair ties, bobby pins, buttons and small kids toys. String, ribbon and wool can lead to a nasty intestinal obstruction and possibly perforation ('linear foreign body') requiring surgery. We encourage play and environmental enrichment but please be careful!