Lily poisoning is no joke.
My smallest cat, Misha, is a serial plant killer. We bought her and Tippy a catnip grass plant, and they destroyed it in about a week. She likes to dig her little face into the dirt and uproot the plant. All I know is, she didn’t learn this destructive behavior from me.
Unfortunately, she got lily poisoning when she decided to dig in my parents’ anniversary bouquet. We had it in their bedroom, locked up safe and sound, but Misha must have snuck in without my dad’s knowledge. When she came out, my mom noticed pollen on her nose. That’s when I started to panic.
You see, lilies are deadly to cats. Ingesting them or inhaling their pollen can cause kidney failure in a matter of days. Cats who aren’t treated within 18 hours are likely to die or be euthanized. Lily poisoning is especially common around Easter when lily plants are prevalent.
I just happened to see a story on Facebook a week or so prior about a woman whose cats died from lily poisoning. I wasn’t aware there were any lilies in the bouquet we had, but as soon as my mom pointed out the pollen, my heart sank. Sure enough, there were tiger lilies hidden among the flowers.
I called the emergency vet, and we rushed her over (it’s a 45-mile drive). The whole drive was me just mindlessly repeating “I promise you’ll be okay” to my cat as I tried not to totally freak out while my sister was behind the wheel. Heck, I was in no condition to drive. I was in no condition for anything. Still, I kept it together on the way there if you don’t count the mindless repetition.
Essentially, treatment boiled down to induced vomiting, forcing her to swallow activated charcoal to draw out any leftover impurities and lily toxins, and two days of IV fluids. She got so stressed out on the car rides back and forth (she needed treatment at two facilities, one for night, one for day) that she would pant. Cats don’t pant unless they’re really stressed.
Well, when we got back from the initial visit to the emergency vet, I freaked. I freaked hard. I had a panic attack so big that I could barely breathe. My chest hurt from trying to gasp in air, and I couldn’t help but dredge up images of Misha dying, how it was all my fault, etc..
I love my cats. I love them more than words can say. I think sometimes I’m too possessive of them, though. They’re equally owned by my two siblings. It’s just that since I’ve been selected as the one they bond the most with, I sometimes forget that they’re pet parents too. My siblings were probably just as freaked out as I was.
After two long days, Misha was able to come home. Leave it to us to encounter even more problems.
My cat Tippy showed heavy signs of non-recognition aggression. She started to hiss and hiss at Misha as if she didn’t even know her, and truth be told… she didn’t. The medicine in Misha’s system had changed her scent so much that she didn’t smell like herself, so Tippy didn’t know that this new cat in the house was her sister.
Non-recognition aggression in cats typically happens when one cat has been away for an extended period of time, but it’s also been known to happen after a simple vet visit. Cats rely heavily on scent, so when a cat’s scent changes, it’s easy to understand how one can become unrecognizable to another.
Even the closest of cats can display behavior of non-recognition aggression. As if lily poisoning wasn’t enough, Misha and Tippy (normally two peas in a pod) were now at odds. All Misha wanted was to cuddle with her sister after being away from her for so long, but Tippy reacted violently when Misha approached her… or was even in the same room with her.
Luckily, things have slowly been getting back to normal. Misha and Tippy are making up. Misha is also back to full health, although she does need to put on a bit of weight now. She gets too nervous to eat during overnight stays.
I don’t know what I would do without my babies. The thought of losing either one crushes me inside, and I feel like the luckiest person in the world right now. Misha is safe, but how many more people have lost their cat to lily poisoning?
Please keep your cats away from poisonous plants, even ones that aren’t poisonous to you. Lilies, daffodils and more can kill your cat, so be safe!