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Easter lilies pose a danger to cats

Wednesday - 4/16/2014, 1:06am  ET

lily.jpg
Local veterinarians warn pet owners to keep cats away from Easter lilies, as the flowers are toxic and can be fatal to cats. (Thinkstock).
  • Gallery: (172 images)

Omama Altaleb, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- Flowers are common in the home around Easter and Mother's Day, but local veterinarians say some can be dangerous to pets.

"Lilies are highly toxic to cats. They can cause a real problem even just chewing on a leaf can be enough to cause vomiting and potential kidney issues in cats," says Dr. Katy Nelson, a veterinarian and host of "The Pet Show."

A cat can die within three to seven days of exposure to the plant, adds Dr. Elizabeth Arguelles, owner and veterinarian of Just Cats Clinic, in Reston, Va.

"Even a small amount of pollen is fatal. I've seen two cases already in the past week," Arguelles says.

Arguelles suggests keeping lilies out of the home and away from the cats.

Some signs that a cat has come in contact with lilies:

  • Pollen on cat's face;
  • Missing petals on the plant;
  • Chewed leaves;
  • The cat vomiting;
  • The cat not eating as much;
  • The cat urinating more.

Nelson, also known as Dr. Pawz, suggests calling a veterinarian immediately if your cat becomes disoriented.

According to Arguelles, the treatment consists of an aggressive, intravenous fluid therapy to flush out toxins and prevent long-term damage to the kidneys. The treatment is followed by two to three days of monitoring.

If you're not sure whether your cat has come in contact with a toxic plant or not, Arguelles recommends visiting the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals poison control center database to find pictures that identify toxic plants.

Although fees may apply, cat owners can call the poison control hotline at (888) 426-4435 to receive treatment suggestions and talk to a board-certified toxicologist at any time.

"They are incredibly helpful because they deal with all the cases. They are the number-one source to find out more information," Arguelles says.

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