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Ask the Vet: Easter Lilies Cause Kidney Failure in Cats

Dr. Lee Pickett on

Q: I love lilies, especially Easter lilies. My two recently adopted cats are very inquisitive and explore every new item I bring home. I don't want them to damage the Easter lilies that will decorate my home over the holiday. Please tell me cats aren't attracted to plants.

A: I'm more worried about the lilies damaging your cats than the other way around. Easter lilies -- and other lilies, including day lilies, stargazers and tiger lilies -- are extremely dangerous to cats.

All parts of the plant cause kidney failure in cats. The flower is the most toxic part, though eating a leaf or even brushing up against the pollen and licking it off the fur can severely damage the kidneys. Cats also can be poisoned by drinking the water from the vase that holds the lilies.

Clinical signs, including lethargy, loss of appetite and vomiting, begin within hours of exposure. Immediate veterinary care is needed to reverse the kidney damage and save the cat's life.

For unknown reasons, many cats are attracted to lilies. So, my advice is to choose some beautiful silk Easter lilies for your home. You and your cats can safely enjoy them every spring for years to come.

Q: I use an oven mitt to protect my hands from bites and scratches when I play with my puppy, Zoey. She loves the mitt, and my thin skin remains intact. She brings me the mitt when she wants to play and stops when I remove it and give her a verbal cue.

 

My spouse thinks I'm promoting aggression. What do you think?

A: Though you may feel Zoey isn't acting aggressively, others may see her behavior differently. What happens if she grabs another adult's gloved hand and damages the fine leather? How will the authorities treat Zoey if she bites the mitten on a child's hand and breaks a finger?

Your job as a puppy parent is to teach Zoey what her mother and littermates would have taught her if she'd remained with them longer. These lessons translate well to living with humans.

One of the most important lessons a puppy must learn is bite inhibition. Once Zoey understands this concept, she'll gently carry your fuzzy slippers to you, and she'll have a soft mouth around other people.

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