What is Daylily Poisoning?
Daylily poisoning in cats is noted through its clinical signs that usually begin 6-12 hours after exposure. Early symptoms a cat may display include dehydration, lethargy, loss of appetite, and vomiting. In a few short hours, the cat’s clinical signs soon progress to kidney failure, disorientation, seizures, and death. Immediate veterinary care is the only way a feline can survive a daylily poisoning, which makes veterinary treatment a necessity.
Daylilies belong to the Liliaceae family and are given the scientific name, Hemerocallis spp. Daylilies in this family include the Asiatic lily, the tiger lily, and the Easter lily, but many other varieties are also found in this plant classification. Daylilies are not toxic to canines but are highly toxic to felines.
Symptoms of Daylily Poisoning in Cats
In most daylily poisoning situations, a feline will develop symptoms within 6-12 hours after exposure. Early symptoms a cat may display include; dehydration, lethargy, loss of appetite and vomiting. In a few short hours, the cat’s clinical signs soon progress to kidney failure, disorientation, and seizures. Early and progressive symptoms a cat may display when affected by daylily poisoning include the following:
- Polyuria ( increased urine output)
- Polydipsia (increased drinking)
- Irregular heartbeat
- Racing heart beat
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Urinary incontinence
Causes of Daylily Poisoning in Cats
Daylily poisoning in cats is caused by the consumption of plant of lily variety. The pollen, stem, leaves and petals of many varieties of daylilies are poisonous to felines in even the smallest amounts. Direct consumption of the plant or simply grooming the fur after making contact with the plant can pose a threat for daylily poisoning in cats.
Varieties of daylilies that are toxic to felines are listed below:
- Asiatic lilies
- Tiger lilies
- Wood lilies
- Western lilies
- Red lilies
- Stargazer lilies
- Rubrum lilies
- Show lilies
- Japanese lilies
- Easter Lilies
- Asiatic hybrid lilies
- Lily of the Valley
Diagnosis of Daylily Poisoning in Cats
Diagnosing a daylily poisoning in cats is difficult if the cat owner did not see the ingestion of the toxic element take place. There is no specific test available for identifying daylily poisoning in felines, so your veterinarian’s diagnosis will be based on ruling out other possible causes of your cat’s current symptoms. The diagnostic process will begin with a physical examination, review of the feline’s medical history and a consultation with the pet owner. It will be important for you to inform the veterinarian about your feline’s recent actions and exposure to daylilies of any variety, as this information will aid in ruling out other possible causes. The clinical signs of poisoning mimic other feline-related health conditions. The veterinarian will want to conduct a series of diagnostic tests to ensure your cat is truly suffering from daylily toxicity and not a more severe underlying condition. Diagnostic tests the veterinarian will likely request to be performed on the feline include:
- CBC (complete blood cell count)
- Biochemical profile (blood work)
- Blood smear test
- Urinalysis (examination of urine)
- Fecal floatation test
- Fecal examination
- Abdominal ultrasound and/or x-ray
- Chest ultrasound and/or x-ray
- Heat radiograph
Treatment of Daylily Poisoning in Cats
Although there is no known antidote to counteract a lily poisoning, immediate veterinary care can save the feline’s life. The key to a positive prognosis is receiving treatment prior to kidney organ shutdown. Therefore, if you see your cat chewing on a plant of lily variety, seek medical care immediately. Make sure to take the plant with you to the veterinary appointment to help diagnose the condition quickly. The veterinarian may administer medication to induce vomiting or give the feline an activated charcoal solution to bind with the toxic plant chemical, to later be passed in fecal form from the body.
To further eliminate the daylily toxin, the veterinarian will likely start your cat on fluids given intravenously to replenish lost fluids and aid in the elimination of the toxin. Fluids will also slow down kidney failure, as more fluids put into the feline’s body, will increase the fluids that can be eliminated from the body. As the fluids pass through the urinary system, they go through the kidneys first and carry the present toxins with them to be eliminated in the urinary waste. Aggressive fluid therapy must be started within an 18-hour window for a positive prognosis.
Recovery of Daylily Poisoning in Cats
The prognosis for daylily poisoning in cats is guarded and depends greatly on the factor of time. A feline that ingested a lily variety plant that is noted by the cat owner and taken immediately to seek veterinary care has a much more positive prognosis that a feline that received late care. Kittens and older cats have a lesser prognosis as well, due to their weak anatomy.
Daylily Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My female Maine coon had exposure to Lily pollen on one side of her face. We promptly washed it off but part of her fur is still stained. Is there any remaining pollen on her fur if it is still slightly yellow after a vigorous wash?
It has been 15 hours since exposure. Within the first 2 hours after exposure, we took her for a car ride which always causes her to vomit. She did so like clockwork and we returned home and gave her another bath and clipped off the majority of the fur that had yellow stain on it. Some was in her whisker fur and I could not clip that, but had washed it thoroughly.
She has eaten well, napped, and played like normal. No odd symptoms that I have seen listed as in line with typical lily poisoning. Are we out of the woods? Would we see any latent signs of poisoning several hours after exposure?
I spoke with my vet yesterday morning (24 hours after exposure) and she said that since we had already induced vomiting within the appropriate time and had not seen any clinical symptoms of poisoning at that point, not to worry about coming in. Should I be consulting another veterinarian? We are now 48 hours post exposure and have not seen any symptoms. Still eating like a champ, using the litter box (not to excess), no puking, she is playful and engaged. I think / hope we didn’t truly have any ingestion of the pollen and may have dodged a bullet.
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My cat just bit a daylily leaf when she was outside. I pulled it out of her mouth and immediately took her inside. Is she going to be okay? What will tell me she needs to see a vet?
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I don't buy day lilies any more after I heard they were toxic for cats. I had been buying them prior to finding this out, though. A friend bought me a birthday bouquet and it had a few lilies in it and I put it on a high shelf. However, some of the pollen fell down and got on my table cloth that one of my cats got on her mouth area, around 9 hours ago. I wiped it off and she is not showing any bad symptoms, although the vet wanted me to make an appt to have her kidney valve function tested. If my kitty remains in normal status, do you think it is necessary for me to still keep the appt? Thank you
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