Diagnosis: Lily Toxicity
It was Valentine’s Day and Kortney’s husband got her a bouquet of her favorite flower—lilies. Unfortunately neither of them knew that lilies are incredibly deadly for cats. The next morning they were awoken as usual by their two cats: 11 month old Dutchess and 9 month old Godric. A couple hours later Godric approached his owners with a thick layer of vibrant yellow pollen all over his face and paws.
Unsuspecting of the danger Godric was in; they snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook, thinking how cute their silly little man looked. In many ways this simple act of sharing on social media helped save Godric’s life. This was how Kortney and her husband learned that lilies are one of the most poisonous and toxic flowers for cats. All parts of the flower are toxic – stem, petals, pollen, all of it. Even a small amount ingested can lead to rapid kidney failure. If not treated immediately, lilies will cause a cat’s kidneys to completely shut down within 24 hours. This is not reversible and the only option is euthanasia.
While trying to clean the pollen off of Godric, Kortney started receiving comments on her Facebook post mentioning that lilies were toxic and this was an emergency. She and her husband looked up lilies and cats on the internet and discovered just how deadly lilies were. Terrified for the life of their kitten, they rushed down to BRVC for urgent treatment and care.
Symptoms of lily ingestion include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, pawing at the mouth, seizures and collapse. Fortunately Godric’s family acted quickly, knowing time was of the essence, and he was not showing any clinical signs yet. This was positive but it did not negate the need for Dr. Leanne Taylor and the BRVC Treatment team to act quickly. Godric needed treatment as soon as possible in order to combat the toxins in his system.
The first step was to induce vomiting and get any of the lily left in his stomach out of Godric. A special drug called Xylazine is used to induce vomiting in cats; it also has a sedative effect. Poor little Godric’s vomit was yellow – suggesting he had eaten quite a lot of pollen. Next the technicians drew blood to test in the in-house lab in order to determine where his kidney values were. An IV catheter was placed so IV fluids could be administered. The treatment for lily ingestion is aggressive IV diuresis (basically kidney dialysis) and regular checking of kidney values. Before starting the IV fluids, Godric was gently bathed clean of the lingering lily pollen residue.
It was a surreal and scary experience for Godric’s family – to go from a romantic gesture to your beloved pet fighting for his life within less than 24 hours was disorienting. While the technicians were bathing Goric Dr. Taylor spoke with his owners and obtained a full history. She explained the dangers lilies presented and what treatment would entail. Of her experience working with Dr. Taylor, Kortney said “Dr. Taylor was extremely patient with us. She answered all our questions and was very nice even though I was bawling my eyes out. She made sure to tell us all the possibilities. Even the grim reality that he might not make it through this. She made us feel like Godric was in good hands.”
Godric was admitted to patient care where he would be monitored for the next 24 to 48 hours while remaining on a constant flow of IV fluids. Because lily ingestion causes the kidneys to shut down one of the most important signs of how well a cat is doing is whether or not they are still able to urinate. The inability to produce urine is a very bad sign. Godric’s Patient Care team kept a close watch over night.
The next morning, Kortney called BRVC first thing: “That was probably one of the worst nights I've had to sleep through. I woke up and called right away. Luckily he had peed! I still wonder if the receptionist had ever heard anyone shout with joy because their pet had peed.” Dr. Taylor was very pleased with how well Godric was responding to his treatment and the fact that he was still producing urine was definitely cause for celebration! But Godric was not out of the woods yet. Another blood test had to be performed in order to ensure the poison was flushed from his system. In the mean time, the adorable ginger tabby had won over the entire Patient Care team – Godric is a total love bug and incredibly friendly. He loved nothing more than to sit and be petted.
On his second day at BRVC Godric’s blood tests came back normal. After 48 hours of hospitalization with an IV fluid drip in his leg, it was time to go home! Dutchess and Godric were very happy to be reunited and his family was thankful to have him home at last, safe and sound.
Dutchess and Godric as kittens.