Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring: A Time of Renewal and Danger

Spring is in the air. The weather is warming and the smell of blooming flowers is apparent the moment you step outside. This is the season of renewal. It's also a time that can present dangers to your cat, even in common household items.

Spring and Easter bouquets are lovely to receive this time of year, especially ones with lilies. However, many varieties of lily - including Easter lilies, Tiger lilies and others - are extremely toxic to your cat. While the exact toxin within lilies isn't known, it is known that every part of the plant is harmful and deadly. The smallest nibble of a leaf is enough to cause a poisoning reaction. The best option is to simply not have lilies as a part of any floral decorations or arrangements in the house, especially since cats have a tendency to be very curious toward new objects and some are even drawn to the fragrance of flowers.

If you do have lilies in or outside your home and you are not sure if your cat has ingested part of the plant or not, signs of lily toxicosis become present within the first two to six hours. Intestinal upset will manifest itself through vomiting, loss of appetite and depression. If you notice these signs, it is best to bring your cat to your veterinarian immediately. These initial signs could possibly subside, but that does not mean your cat is in the clear. In the next twelve to eighteen hours kidney damage will develop. Your veterinarian can induce vomiting to remove the plant matter from your cat's system if ingestion was within a few hours. IV fluids and other medications will likely need to be administered. If a cat is not treated within the first eighteen hours of ingestion, kidney failure and death can occur. Immediate care is required to prevent permanent kidney damage. If proper aggressive veterinary care is administered, a full recovery is possible. If no treatment is given, death will usually occur within three to seven days.

For more information on lily toxicosis, including photos of various types of lilies, you can visit the Cat Fanciers' Association article on this subject. In addition, they have a helpful list of other plants that are dangerous for cats. And since part of many folks' spring renewal includes a good "spring cleaning", here is a helpful room-by-room checklist of ways to make your home safer for your cats (and other pets, too).

And lastly, here are a few Animal Poison Control contacts: -Pet Poison Helpline by phone: 800.213.6680 or on the web (please note there is a per incident fee for their services) -The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center by phone at 888.426.4435 or on their website. (they also note a fee for services, see their website for more info)

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