Cornell Feline Health Center

Supporting Cat Health with Information and Health Studies.

Easter Peril: Look Out for Lilies and Other Items

With Easter around the corner, we’d like to remind cat owners (and friends of cat owners!) that several traditions surrounding the holiday pose serious dangers for cats.

Easter lilies are among the biggest toxic threats your kitty can face. In fact, many lilies are toxic to cats and if ingested, can cause kidney failure. Many cats don’t pull through.

“Even one bite of any part of the Easter lily plant can induce kidney failure and, if not treated very quickly, death. While not all species of lilies are toxic to cats, some, including daylilies, tiger lilies, lily of the valley, and Asiatic hybrids are also extremely toxic, highlighting the importance of awareness and of taking precautions to minimize the risk to our feline friends,” explains Dr. Bruce Kornreich, director of the Cornell Feline Health Center.

“If you notice your cat eating any part of these toxic plants, take him and the plant to a veterinarian immediately,” says Kornreich. “The prognosis for cats that have ingested toxic lilies is much better for cats who get to a veterinarian quickly after eating the plant,” says Kornreich.

“The best way to avoid this problem is to keep these toxic plants away from curious cats, either by not having them in the home at all, or by making sure to isolate cats from where they are kept,” says Kornreich.

Another Easter hazard for curious cats is the artificial “grass” that’s popularly used in Easter baskets and other decorations. Cats are often attracted to this crinkly Easter decoration, but if swallowed and left untreated, the strands can get tangled in the small intestine. This can be fatal for cats.

Easter baskets can be filled with another kind of toxic hazard for cats: chocolate. The artificial sweetener xylitol, often found in sugar-free candy, is also a danger to their health.

While Easter baskets and lilies are synonymous with Easter fun, think twice before purchasing these items if there’s a cat present in the recipient’s home.

If you think your cat has ingested something toxic, do not induce vomiting unless you are specifically directed to do so by a veterinarian or poison control center operator. Certain poisons can cause more damage during vomiting than if left in the stomach.

In case of an emergency, call your veterinarian immediately. If your vet is not available, try a local emergency veterinary clinic or animal poison control help hotline. The Pet Poison Helpline and ASPCA Animal Poison Control are great resources.

Wishing everyone who celebrates a happy, kitty-friendly Easter!