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What is Superb Lily Poisoning?

Superb lily poisoning is noted through its clinical signs that usually begin 6 to 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 can progress to kidney failure, disorientation, seizures, and death. Immediate veterinary care is the only way a feline can survive a superb lily poisoning, which makes veterinary treatment a necessity. 

The superb lily belongs to the Liliaceae family and is given the scientific name, Gloriosa superba. The superb lily is also given a variety of common names including; the gloriosa lily, the climbing lily and the glory lily. Superb lilies are toxic to felines, as well as to canines and horses. 

Symptoms of Superb Lily Poisoning in Cats

In most superb lily poisoning situations, a feline will develop symptoms within 6 to 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 superb lily poisoning include the following: 

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Polyuria ( increased urine output) 
  • Polydipsia (increased drinking)
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Racing heart beat 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Halitosis (bad breath) 
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Hiding 
  • Seizures 
  • Death  

Causes of Superb Lily Poisoning in Cats

Superb lily poisoning in cats is caused by the consumption of the plant vegetation. The pollen, stem, leaves and petals of many varieties of lilies 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 superb lily poisoning in cats. 

Diagnosis of Superb Lily Poisoning in Cats

Diagnosing a superb lily poisoning is difficult if the cat owner did not see the ingestion of the toxic element take place. Since there is no specific test available for identifying superb lily poisoning in felines, your veterinarian’s diagnosis will be based on ruling out other possible causes of symptoms. The process will include a physical examination, a review of the feline’s medical history and a consultation with the pet owner about the cat’s recent activity and possible exposure to toxic plants.

The veterinarian may conduct a series of diagnostic tests confirm your cat is truly suffering from superb lily toxicity and not a different, underlying condition. Tests may include: 

  • 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 Superb Lily Poisoning in Cats

Although there is no known antidote to counteract superb 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 a sample of 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, so it can later be passed in fecal form from the body.  

To further eliminate the superb lily toxin, the veterinarian will likely start your cat on fluids given intravenously to replenish lost fluids, aid in the elimination of the toxin, and slow down kidney failure. 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 Superb Lily Poisoning in Cats

The prognosis for superb lily poisoning in cats is guarded and depends greatly on the factor of time. A feline that ingested a lily variety plant that was 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. To avoid future superb lily poisoning in your cat, remove all potted and naturally growing superb lilies in the surrounding area.