Monday, May 4, 2015

Lily of Death

I type this to you with Xanax seeping through my veins. Meanwhile, I.V. fluids are creeping through the veins of my beloved Mad Max Rockatansky. Why? Because he chewed on the leaves of an Asiatic lily. The life of my cat hangs in the balance because of four fucking leaves. Or more accurately the mere pieces of four different leaves.

Until 3:47 this afternoon when my Mom informed me 'Your son is chewing on my lily, google that and make sure it's not poisonous.' I had no idea - literally no fucking concept - of just how toxic lilies are to cats. If pollen gets on their fur and they lick it, they could die. No, I'm not being dramatic. That was my first reaction when the first website so, being the 'multiple reference' person I am, I went to another site and then to and and

By then, I was genuinely starting to panic. I had *watched* Max swallow one of the leaves, and three others were tattered. So I called our vet, and was told to bring Max in immediately. To overview: At approximately 3:47 Max chomped the ends off four leaves of an Asiatic lily. By 4:30 we were at the vet's, and he was consulting with a specialist in animal toxicology. By 5:00, Max had been induced to vomit (he vomited all the leaves, they could practically put the pieces back together) and they were waiting for the sedative (with cats, they give them an anesthetic, which causes nausea, and vomiting) to wear off so they could begin giving him activated charcoal. He's a twelve pound cat, which equals a dosage of 70 MLs of activated charcoal. By now, Max was swearing that he'd never even look at anything green again. Amazingly, they got all 70 MLs into him, and other than burping droplets a few times, he kept it all down. The next step is I.V. fluids. For 48hrs. The idea is that any bits of toxin which don't adhere to the activated charcoal, will be flushed out of his system before they have time to settle in his kidneys. Basically, it's the same sort of toxic process as antifreeze poisoning.

Shocked yet? Yeah, me too. I'm still trying to convince myself that in the span of five hours, I went from loafing in my pjs to writing this and not knowing if Max is going to live. Scientifically, rationally, and medically, his prognosis is 'very good' according to the specialist, my vet, and the emergency clinic vet, where he'll be spending tonight, and possibly tomorrow night. But anyone who has much experience in medicine understands that having everything go even the best way, doesn't guarantee that it will *continue* to go the best way. Now, with lily poisoning, the consensus is 'treatment within the first 18 hours' gives you the best chance for recovery, and obviously, Max started treatment within the first hour, so *crosses fingers and knocks on wood* in theory, Max stands a good chance of running rampant for years to come. 

But we won't know for sure until we're through the next 48 hours without problem. And no amount of scientific or medical fact is going to assure me of his safety until 48 hours has gone by without incident and he's charmed all the vet techs and comes bouncing home with me. So in the least, this incident has given me more gray hair, and empty bank account and a hell of a lot of emotional trauma.

The terror associated with the idea of losing Max aside, I'm still reeling with horror over the toxicity of lilies in general. And it's not just cats. Dog, humans and goats (of all animals) are incredibly vulnerable too. I mean, let's get real. Dropping pollen on a cat can kill them? Now think about a toddler chewing on a leaf of that Easter lily on the coffee table. Or the dog snuffling it.

There is not enough public awareness of just how poisonous lilies (all of them, to varying degrees) are to us, and the animals many of us keep as pets. I beseech you to share this post on all of those Facebook groups you're in, or Pages you frequent. And the lily that got Max into all of this? $3.98 at Walmart, not a single word of warning anywhere on the label or pot. Nowhere on that plant did it say just how devastatingly harmful it could be to an animal or human. I presume that the lack of warning is because everyone and their second cousin buy lilies in the millions around Easter and in the spring or early summer. This one happened to be be given to my Mom last week for teacher appreciation week. I hazard that the mother who bought it might have had second thoughts if there was a big old skull and crossbones on the tag. But I wouldn't be going through all of this, either. Even my vet, who's been in practice for over 30 years, hasn't ever dealt with this. He has indoor cats, and his yard is full of lilies of various types. That's probably going to changed. 

Please, share this. Help me spread this information now. The majority of lily poisonings are fatal, simply because people don't understand how dangerous they are. If no one witnesses the cat consuming the lily, the symptoms that eventually provoke treatment are related to renal failure, not the actual poisoning. And once the cat enters renal failure, chances of survival are slim, at best. Sometimes even weeks of dialysis are not sufficient to get the cat through.

The best way to assure that a cat recovers from lily poisoning, is to make sure they never get poisoned to start with. ALL LILIES ARE POISONOUS. If you have pets, or small children, don't have a lily. Period. It's just too dangerous. 


  1. How horrible! I'm so glad your mom saw it happen and that you got Max to the vet in time!

    Thanks for the heads up on the lily is poisonous concept, I had no idea. Now I'm heading over to Google to figure out what the one plant we have in the backyard is.

  2. I had no idea! I'm so sorry you had to go through this!

  3. I knew but am saddened by your experience. May it turn out well.