Mar. 21, 2003 With the Easter holiday approaching, cat owners should be aware that Easter lilies pose a potential health hazard to their pets.
"Cats can be poisoned by ingesting one or two leaves or flowers," said Wilson Rumbeiha, assistant professor of pathobiology and diagnostic investigation at Michigan State University.
Symptoms can start within 30 minutes of ingesting leaves or flowers, Rumbeiha said. The first symptom is depression, followed by vomiting, loss of appetite, and loss in body weight. Acute renal failure starts at about 48 hours post-ingestion.
"Easter lily poisoning is a problem of indoor cats and affects cats of either sex and all ages," he said.
From clinical experience, between 50 percent and 100 percent of cats poisoned by Easter lilies die from the poisoning, he said. This is because the toxin is not yet identified and there is no antidote. Dogs or laboratory animals such as mice and rats are reportedly not sensitive to Easter lilies.
Along with the Easter lily, the National Animal and Poison Control Center has identified Tiger lilies and Asiatic hybrid lilies as being toxic as well. Several other plants in this category also may lead to renal failure.
If you suspect that your cat has ingested Easter lily flowers or leaves, your pet should be taken to the hospital as soon as possible.
It is extremely important that early treatment is rendered before acute renal failure sets in. General supportive therapy, including fluids, has been shown to be very effective if rendered within six hours of ingestion. The odds of recovery are dramatically reduced if treatment is initiated more than 18 hours after ingestion of Easter lilies.
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