Toxic plants

Is Lily of the Valley Toxic To Cats?

Is Lily of the Valley Toxic To Cats? 
Written by Clair Chesterman

Popular for its pure white blooms, The Lily of the Valley is an attractive perennial plant but should be avoided by cats as it is found to contain cardenolides.  These cardenolides are cardiac glycosides that can disrupt your feline companion’s gastrointestinal systems and interfere with the proper operation of their hearts. 

The roots, stems, leaves, blooms, and berries of the Lily of the Valley are all poisonous, albeit the bulb has a higher concentration of cardiac glycosides. Lily of the Valley also contains saponins, which can cause nausea, diarrhea, blood in the stool, and stomach pain in cats.

What Is Lily of the Valley?

The lily of the valley, scientifically known as convallaria majalis, is not a genuine lily and belongs to the Asparagaceae plant family. The shrub produces berries as well as little bell-shaped white blooms that are very lovely and aromatic. 

This fragrant flowering plant is also known for its other common names such as May bells, Our Lady’s Tears, and Mary’s tears. They are endemic to Europe and are also widely grown in the United States, particularly in the eastern region. Even though the lily of the valley grows low to the ground, it can actually reach a height of two feet. Its attractive white flowers bloom from late spring until early summer.

It is worth noting that the lily of the valley flower is not to be confused with the lily of the valley bush, which is a completely distinct species.

Clinical Signs of the Lily of the Valley Poisoning in Cats

In any instance that your cat has ingested a portion of the lily of the valley plant, take your cat quickly to a veterinary clinic to get proper treatment. The clinical signs that your cat may manifest when suffering from toxication from Lily of the Valley are:

  • Vomiting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmias
  • Bradycardia or slow heartbeat
  • Hypotension (or low blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Disorientation
  • Nervous system depression
  • Lethargy
  • Ataxia 
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Weakness and collapse
  • Coma

First Aid and Treatment of Lily of the Valley Poisoning in Cats

Inducing emesis or delivering treatment to make your pet vomit is not recommended with this plant poisoning because it is absorbed so quickly. Your veterinarian, on the other hand, may do gastric lavage, which involves washing out the stomach while under general anesthetic. To absorb any leftover poisons, activated charcoal can be used orally.

Other treatments may be also provided by the vet such as intravenous fluid therapy to rehydrate your cat and giving medications to your cat such as gastro protectants, anti-nausea, and anti-arrhythmic, among others. Medications prescribed will still depend on your cat’s symptoms and the severity of the condition.

Recovery from Lily of the Valley Poisoning in Cats

If your cat was treated for Lily of the Valley ingestion quickly and without significant effects, the outlook of full recovery is great. Make sure they have a peaceful spot at home to relax and recover away from other pets, children, noise, and bustle.

Prevention of Lily of the Valley Poisoning in Cats

Lily of the Valley should not be grown in households with cats living in it. Minimize your cat’s outdoor activities by placing safety nets and building fences around your house. Familiarize yourself with the different toxic plants that can cause harm to your cats and be aware of your surroundings to see if there are any growing in your neighborhood.

If you love plants but have cats at home, check out these lists:

About the author

Clair Chesterman

Clair Chesterman is a professional cat breeder having her own cageless CFA and CCA Registered cattery & fostering company FluffyMeowPaws in Eugene, Oregon. Clair is a plant enthusiast too and she made in-depth research on toxic and non-toxic plants for cats.

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