Cats may be poisoned by lilies if they eat any part of the plant or flowers, (all parts of the plant are considered to be toxic for cats). Kittens are especially prone to being poisoned in this way because they explore and chew many things in their environment. However, older cats are often affected simply because they brush against the flower and get pollen on their coats. Later they groom the pollen off, and of course ingest the lilly pollen as they clean their fur.
The signs of poisoning include vomiting, anorexia, and depression within a few hours following ingestion of the plant or parts of the plant. The initial vomiting may stop after a while then resume up to 3 days later. Other signs of lily poisoning include paralysis, respiratory problems, seizures and swollen paws or face.
The main problem with this type of poisoning is that it can cause renal failure which is a life threatening condition. Even cats that survive lily poisoning may be left with chronic renal problems and sometimes pancreatitis.
If you suspect that your cat may have eaten any part of any type of lily you should seek veterinary attention as quickly as possible. In some cases it may be possible to induce vomiting if the plant was recently eaten, then activated charcoal can be given to help reduce the toxic effects. The main treatment involves supporting the kidneys with intravenous fluids, and such support may be required for some time.
Not all cat owners know just how dangerous lilies can be for cats. The most dangerous types of lily for felines are the Tiger Lily (Lilium Tigrinum), Day Lily (Hemerocalis), Stargazer Lily (Lilium Orientalis), Easter Lily (Lilium Longiflorum), Rubrum Lily (Lilium Speciosum), Japanese Show Lily (Lilium Lancifolium), and Asiatic lilies. However all lilies should be considered potentially toxic. Do take care when introducing any type of lily into your home or garden.