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Lethal lilies

14th February 2019

Lethal lilies

Lilies – pretty but dangerous to cats!

The lily is an attractive and fragrant flower, and features in many a bouquet and flower arrangement. However, many people are unaware of the danger they pose to cats. Lilies cause severe kidney damage in cats, but not other species such as dogs. The mechanism whereby this pretty flower is potentially fatal to cats is not fully understood.

Which type of lily causes a problem?

Lilies, specifically all species of Lilium (true lily) and Hemerocallis (day lily) are poisonous to cats. It is important to be aware that many plants have lily in their name such as lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), peace lily (Spathiphyllum species) and calla or arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica). These plants may have different toxic effects but it is specifically Lilium (figure 1) and Hemerocallis (figure 2) that are discussed here (Table 1).

Table 1: Lilies that are toxic to cats

Scientific name Common names
Hemerocallis species Day lily
Lilium x asiatica  Asiatic lily
Lilium x asiatica americana
Lilium candidum  Madonna lily
Lilium hydridum Japanese showy lily
Lilium lancifolium (Lilium tigrinum) Tiger lily
Lilium longiforum Easter lily
Lilium orientalis Stargazer lily; oriental lily
Lilium regale Royal lily
Lilium speciosum
Lilium rubrum  Rubrum lily
Lilium umbellatum Western or wood lily

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