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'Just too late': Pet cat's dire prognosis after brush with common plant

Josh Dutton
News Reporter

A woman has shared a warning about an everyday house plant which can be fatal when consumed by cats.

Lindsey Warnock, from the US state of Texas, posted about her cat Willow on Facebook who was playing with a lily as she worked from home last month.

Ms Warnock wrote Willow didn’t eat the flower but got pollen “all over her” before she got the little cat away from the lilies.

She laughed it off but then decided to Google lilies and what they do to cats.

Willow, pictured with pollen stains on her fur, played with lilies and became ill. Source: Facebook/ Lindsey Warnock

It turns out, they are fatally poisonous to felines.

Both QUT’s Professor Martin Sillence and James Cook University’s Professor Richard Squires confirmed this to Yahoo News Australia.

“Some species of lily cause acute kidney injury in cats,” Professor Squires said.

An article on Western Australia’s VetWest website warns of the dangers of lilies to cats.

“The toxic substance in lilies that injures the kidneys has not been identified, but all parts of the lily are poisonous – flowers, stamen, stem, leaves and roots,” the article reads.

“The toxic dose is unknown, but thought to be reached by ingestion of, or mouthing, very small amounts of material. Cats seem to be unique amongst domestic pets in their susceptibility to this intoxication, possibly due to differences in their metabolism.”

Ms Warnock wrote once she realised the dangers the flower posed to Willow she “freaked out” and threw the cat in the shower which “wasn’t fun” before rushing her to a vet.

“Due to covid, they came and took her from my car and after her exam the ER doctor called me,” she wrote. 

“She said her prognosis was very poor because they found the pollen around her mouth and on her tongue. She even said, ‘in my experience I've never seen a cat survive lily poisoning. Most owners only realise there's an issue when the cat is sick and by that point it's just too late’.”

Willow’s owner wrote she cried “hysterically” at hearing this.

The cat was playing with these lilies. Source: Facebook/ Lindsey Warnock

“She said that her only saving grace may be that we sought treatment quickly but realistically she might not make it through the night,” Ms Warnock wrote.

“They made her throw up, gave her activated charcoal and aggressively treated her with fluid therapy and other meds.

“Thank God after two days in the hospital, she pulled through.”

Willow was due for another check-up and it’s not known if the cat suffered any permanent damage to her organs.

“I can't tell you the intense guilt I felt and still feel for buying those stupid flowers,” Ms Warnock wrote.

“I felt like a murderer, terrible fur mum, terrible person. I've had cats my entire life and have never heard of lily poisoning.”

Ms Warnock added vets told her "most people only find out the hard way" and she hopes people share her post.

As for Willow, it’s unlikely she’ll be let near flowers again anytime soon.

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