Monday, March 19, 2012

Killer lilies are a no-no for kitties!

Image credit: Field of Lilies by Andrea Andrade

We’ve set our clocks forward and have seen crocuses poke their heads up from the frozen earth, and the first thing that many of us want to do is to celebrate spring with some lovely, fragrant lilies – especially the beautiful white trumpet-shaped Easter lilies that appear everywhere this time of year. Unfortunately, for those of us with cats, this is probably the worst way to usher in good weather.

Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum) are incredibly poisonous to cats. Well, all lilies, really - Tiger Lily ( Lilium henryi and lancifolium spp.), Day Lily (Hemerocallis spp.), Asiatic lily (Lilium asiatica), Stargazer lily (Lilium orientalis) and the rest of the Lilium family. (Not sure if you have a lily? Wikipedia has images of many of the lily species which will help with identification.) All parts of the lily plant are dangerous, including the flowers, stamens, stems, leaves and roots – even the pollen. If a cat gets pollen on its coat and then grooms, it could still cause fatal illness. Cats that get pollen on themselves should be thoroughly bathed as soon as possible.

Most of the time, we only know that a cat has eaten a lily because some part of the lily appears in a very inconveniently placed puddle of vomit. Many people may even initially write it off, thinking, “Oh well, Fluffy got into the spider plant again. Guess I’ll go get the carpet cleaner.” (Spider plants are non-toxic, by the way, so Fluffy can eat away at them all she likes!) However, when it comes to lilies, it is imperative that you seek emergency medical treatment for your cat as soon as possible to ensure proper and effective treatment. In approximately 2-4 days after ingestion of the plant, your cat may begin to show signs of kidney failure. If enough toxin is absorbed to cause acute kidney failure, then the likelihood that your cat will respond to treatment is poor.

A cat affected by lily intoxication will initially show signs of an upset stomach (gastritis): vomiting, a lack of interest in food and lethargy. These initial signs may appear within 2-12 hours of ingestion and may disappear after 12 hours. The cat may improve briefly or appear to act normal before the condition progresses to serious acute renal failure within 48 to 72 hours.

Once a cat’s kidneys have been damaged to the point of failure, they will show a variety of signs such as lethargy, vomiting, increased thirst, and urinating large quantities (in some cases, urine production may stop altogether - anuria). Affected cats are also likely to be dehydrated. If left untreated, death can occur in as little as 3 days.

Diagnosis and Treatment:
There is no “lily poisoning test”, diagnosis is usually made due to someone witnessing the cat eat the lily or vomit part of the plant. Blood tests that check the kidneys (BUN and creatinine levels) will help confirm ingestion, though severe increases are not likely to be seen immediately. If your cat’s kidney values are normal after eating part of a lily plant, this is GOOD! It means that treatment is more likely to be successful.

Within 6 hours of exposure
, depending on how quickly the cat is brought to the veterinary hospital, doctors and staff may try to induce vomiting and/or give medications to prevent further absorption of the toxin. Even if blood values are normal and the cat vomits up the lily parts you will likely be advised to hospitalize your cat for monitoring and IV fluid administration for a minimum of 24 hours. If your cat is treated immediately after ingestion, prognosis is good.

Up to 48 hours post-exposure, immediate hospitalization and intensive IV fluid therapy will be recommended. The length of time that your cat will need to be hospitalized depends on how badly his kidneys have already been affected, and how he responds to treatment. Prognosis is guarded to poor – mild to moderate kidney damage may be permanent.

Two to four days post-exposure, depending on laboratory testing of the kidneys, humane euthanasia to end suffering may be the only option. Prognosis is very poor – severe, irreversible kidney damage may result in the inability to produce urine. Left untreated for longer than 18 hours, one can expect death in almost 100% of cases.

If you or anyone in your household suspects that your cat may have ingested any part of a lily, no matter how small, please seek immediate veterinary attention. Hesitation may mean the difference between life and death for your cat!

**Celebrate Pet Poison Prevention Week March 18-24 by sharing this article with at least one other person. You might save a life! **
Calla Lily

Peace Lily
Note: While Calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) and Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum spp.) are not true lilies, they are still toxic to a lesser degree and can cause oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing

Lily of the Valley
Peruvian Lily
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) is also not a true lily, however, it is also toxic and can cause vomiting and cardiac problems such as irregular heart beat, low blood pressure, disorientation, coma, and seizures. Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria spp.) is another lily to be aware of. While many florists advertize it to be non-toxic, large amounts of this lily-lookalike can cause stomach irritation, vomiting and diarrhea. Peruvian lilies come in all colors and are also valued in floral arrangements due to their long life as a cut flower.
  For further information:
ASPCA Toxic Plant List
Pet Poison Help Line – learn the common signs of poisoning, 
make a pet poison first aid kit and more!
PSA website: No Lilies for Cats  - FAQ about lily poisoning
Why veterinarians hate Easter - a Veterinarian’s story
The dangers of lilies – a cat owner’s story 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Meet Miss March!

Age: 10yr
Weight: good body condition. 10.70#
Gender: spayed female
Demeanor at the vet’s office: Nice girl, I mind my manners!
Feline friends: I prefer humans, and I am an only cat

How she found her home:  I found my home by being the smallest, loudest, most pathetic little kitty at the Oakland County Animal Care Center when my adopted Dad went to find a kitty to live with him.  I was in a cage all by myself because I was sick with an upper respiratory infection, thus the pathetic part.  But that infection didn't compromise my meowing and I let it be known, "Look at me!" thus the loudest part.  That was what convinced Dad to adopt me.  After adoption, I walked around the house for a week, making the loudest meows out of any kitty they have ever had.
How she got her name: I was part of the family for a little while before I got my name.  Dad had recently retired from a local Fire Department, and they liked the name as it related to something from that job.
Her greatest adventure: When I was first adopted, I had two older brother kitties who mentored me and I stayed indoors.  After my first year at home, I became an inside/outside kitty.  Now whatever I want to do, I get to do it.  My first adventure outdoors was on the Fourth of July, when Mom and Dad both thought the other one had put me back inside the house before they went to a beach party.  When they realized I was still outside, Mom came back to the house to walk down the street looking for me and calling for me.  This was interesting for Mom, as she got to meet and talk to some neighbors she had not met before; each one had a comment about hearing and seeing an adorable little kitty (me!) in their yard and describing where they thought I went.  Mom found me a half a block away.  There was one more adventure where I went exploring for about three weeks before Mom & Dad found me and brought be back home.  That adventure was a little scary.  After that, I've liked to stay in my yard and the yards of my next door neighbors.  I do enjoy visiting my next door neighbors, I especially like to go into one's garage with him when he is working and visiting the other ones when they are in their hot tub.
Favorite sleeping spots: Dad built me an outside "kitty perch" which is a little open platform with carpet on the floor and a roof overhead and has a carpeted ramp up to the platform.  It is at about their eye level and at a point in my back yard where I have a perfect view of all the important areas of the back yard and driveway.  I use it all the time.
I do like to be near Mom and Dad when they are settled in watching TV.  I'll either sit on the back of the lazy boy and be a 'headrest' for Dad, or sit on Mom's lap when she's on the couch.  Mom is allergic to me, so she always makes me wait until she puts a towel on her lap before I jump up and settle in.  If Mom's sitting on the couch without her towel on, I sit on the floor and stare at her until she gets up and puts the towel on so I can get on her lap.  Sometimes, I take a nap in the living room with Dad.  I know this is going to happen when he starts closing the blinds and putting a pillow on the couch.  I wait until he's fluffed a blanket over him and jump up to lay on his side; I face his feet and know I'm in the right spot when the tip of my tail just reaches his chin or nose; then I just try to purr hard.  Dad says I'm like a little vibrating heating pad, and he calls this an "Ember Nap."
Otherwise, I like to sit in the bay window at the front of the house and look outside (I do not like the big garbage trucks when they thunder down the street outside) or lay in my kitty bed which is on the floor over a heat vent.  I also like to play with a little green catnip mouse I got from Exclusively Cats when they took care of me while Mom and Dad went to Iceland.