Cats & Easter Lilies, A Deadly Combo!


What’s WRONG with this picture??? Image Courtesy of

I write about Easter lily danger nearly every year to warn pet lovers and especially those with cats. The gorgeous lily makes its appearance each Easter, decorating church, home, and garden. I can’t have them in my house, though. I won’t to risk having an Easter lily anywhere near my cats Seren and Karma or for Magical-Dog. For cats especially, the fragrant blooms can mean death.

Don’t get me wrong, I love lilies. They’re gorgeous. And I love flowers–our house is surrounded by about 500 rose bushes getting ready to bloom this spring. But my Seren-kitty likes to munch any plant I bring into the house and Karma will play with anything.

White lilies on black background

Image courtesy of

Many lilies are lethal to cats. Easter lilies, stargazer lilies, and Asiatic lilies are the most dangerous, and different cats react in various ways. The plants contain a chemical that can damage the kidneys, and kill your cat. Dogs often gnaw leaves, dig up the plant, or eat the whole thing.

Felines more often paw-pat and shred leaves and stems during play, and may be poisoned when they later lick and clean their paws and claws. Just biting a leaf or petal can be enough to cause serious kidney disease. Hopefully that picture, above, used fake blooms to stage the image–YIKES!



Cats poisoned by lily toxin typically suffer kidney failure within 36 to 72 hours. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy or loss of appetite. Some cats suffer permanent kidney damage and lose their lives, while others can recover if treated in time with dialysis that gives the organs enough time to heal.

Seren eating yellow roses

Roses can injure cats if they bite thorns, but aren’t toxic and actually are edible…according to Seren!

The easiest way to protect your cats is to keep toxic plants out of reach—or out of your house altogether. Besides lilies, other potential harmful plants include rhododendron, sago palm, kalanchoe and schefflera. Azalea can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, coma and death. Eating or chewing caladium, dieffenbachia or philodendron makes the tongue and throat swell up so breathing is difficult. Mother-in-law’s tongue (snake plant) causes everything from mouth irritation to collapse. Crown of thorns and English ivy will prompt thirst, vomiting and diarrhea, stomach pain, and death in one to two days. Holly also causes stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

You can keep your pet family members safe and sound by choosing only pet-friendly safe varieties for your garden and home. Calla lilies and peace lilies, which don’t belong to the Lilium genus, are harmless to cats.

There are many other plants that prompt mild problems, such as excess salivation or mouth discomfort. Keeping these out of reach of curious paws may be sufficient to protect your animals. But pet lovers should steer clear of the worst plant offenders, both inside and out. If you see your pet with one or more of these signs, particularly if a suspect plant is within reach, get help immediately! First aid can save the cat or dog’s life. Then take the pet to see the veterinarian as quickly as possible.


Different poisons require very specific first aid. Usually that will be either 1) induce vomiting, (cats do this on their own very well–but never when you want them to!) or 2) give milk or water to wash out the mouth and dilute the poison. Making the pet vomit the wrong poisonous plant, though, could make a serious situation even more deadly, so you MUST know what to do for each type of plant.


Detailed advice for dealing with the most common plant poisoning is available in the book The First-Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats. The ASPCA Animal Poison-Control Center is available for telephone consultations (1-888-426-4435) in case of poisoning emergency.

What cat-safe plants do you have in your home? How do you keep the cat from destroying/eating them? Have you ever had a kitty-plant encounter of the dangerous kind?

YouTube ButtonI love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have anew puppy and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!



Cats & Easter Lilies, A Deadly Combo! — 22 Comments

  1. Very scary. It’s sad that such beautiful plants can be so deadly! My dog once dug up a lilly plant and chewed on the bulb before I noticed. He immediately started gagging and foaming terribly at the mouth. Thank goodness he had such a big reaction right away so he didn’t swallow much.

  2. Always appreciate the reminders about Easter lilies & other dangerous plants. I’ll just enjoy my pictures of Easter lilies. I strongly suspect that the sudden & unexplained death of a sweet & vivacious kitten belonging to friends may have been caused by lilies. She was the only cat of hordes raised by those cat lovers who ever found lilies interesting. Once she was found unconscious near them. Once she was found dead.

    We had very ancient & beloved Mother in law tongues that had to be relocated when we got a chewer but had been no problem to two other indoor cats, the latter of whom had originally been outdoors in our neighborhood. I have grown to believe that cats raised by outdoor mothers know more about dangers than most other cats.

    One cat of ours — rescue kitten at the time — had to be taught not to touch azaleas & he only wanted to lick the bark I think it was, but aside from that — visitors & neighborhood cats & ours when outdoor darlings — seem to only use azaleas to hide in.

    I think the only way to go is as you are — adding no more plants that may cause harm. We are adding no plant that harms cats in any way.

    • Exactly. I’m not willing to to risk it with my pets. There’s no way to be 100% “safe” with danger in the house. Cats and dogs have a way of finding trouble!

  3. We don’t get Easter Lilies. Our main concern always were Lilies of the Valley because they grew all along our walking trail. Fortunately, our guys had no interest in any flowers.

  4. Thanks for helping to spread this message. I love both cut flowers and gardening, but keeping things pet safe is really important to me. Lilies are especially dangerous for cats, but there are so many that put hungry Beagles like mine at risk too. I worry a lot about Lilies because they drop leaves, petals, and pollen like it is their job – all of which are dangerous!

  5. The poisoning that comes from lilies is so scary! It definitely isn’t worth the risk. Thanks for getting this message out there every year. It’s an easy one to forget in all the excitement of spring.

  6. I actually had no idea lilies were so poisonous, so thank you for sharing this. It’s scary to think something that seems so beautiful and innocent (like an Easter lily) can be so potentially dangerous to our pets.

  7. Wow this is scary. But the scariest thing I learned is that they can become poisoned by just drinking the water. Good think I have a problem with plants and flowers, so you wont find them in our house!

  8. Wonderful info, definitely learned a lot! Jada got into some type of plant when she was a puppy. I don’t remember what kind it was, but she had vomited all over my car (clean up was very difficult!) and then my stepmom and I tried to figure out what had upset her tummy. We were about to call the poison control hotline that you posted when I realized that Jada had eaten leaves off of a plant on the porch. I asked my stepmom what plant it was and looked it up. Turns out it was poisonous to dogs! Thankfully Jada vomited a couple more times and it was all good!

  9. Pingback: 7 TOP PET POISONS & WHAT TO DO

Leave a Reply