Are Calla Lilies Poisonous To Cats?

If you have a feline friend in your life, you may be aware of the deadly effects of lily ingestion.

With so many warnings to keep your cat away from true lilies, you may wonder, do Calla lilies fall into this category as well? To help you better understand the potentially toxic plants in your home, let’s dive into the details.

In this article we will discuss the differences between true lilies and calla lilies, and educate you on the potential dangers of these lily-like flowers.

Are Calla Lilies True Lilies?

So before we discuss the details of calla lily toxicity in cats, it’s important to understand the differences between calla lilies and true lilies. Calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) do not fall into the category of true lilies, meaning they are not associated with the deadly kidney failure that true lilies bring.

Calla lilies are considered much less toxic to cats than true lilies, though they do come with their own dangers.

While your feline friend may not fall victim to acute kidney failure when getting their paws on this flower, they may still experience a slew of other uncomfortable symptoms.

Are Calla Lilies Toxic To Cats?

Are Calla Lilies Poisonous To Cats

Yes, calla lilies are still toxic to cats. They may not be as toxic as the members of the true lily family, but they can still be dangerous to cats when they are consumed.

Calla lilies contain a compound known as insoluble calcium oxalates, which is a crystal that is known to cause serious irritation to the tissues. If your cat chews on any portion of the calla lily plant, they will often be met with severe mouth irritation.

Though the bulb of the calla lily contains most of the calcium oxalate crystals, they are present throughout every portion of the plant.

Cats will typically only eat a small amount of the plant due to the instant pain it causes, but this is typically enough to cause painful damage to the tissue the compounds touch.

When a cat eats any portion of the plant, these insoluble calcium oxalate crystals can reach the oral cavity, the esophagus, and even the GI tract. Irritation of the tissue can be severe in some cases, leading to unbearable pain and anorexia when it’s not addressed.

Calla lily toxicity in cats is hardly ever fatal, but there is a small possibility of respiratory distress to be aware of.

These irritating compounds can cause severe swelling of the mouth and oral cavity, making it challenging for some cats to breathe. Though it is rare for cats to eat enough of the plant to cause irritation this severe, you can never write it off.

Most calla lily toxicities in cats will just result in pain and GI upset, but it is never something you want your cat to endure.

Complications will range from mild to severe based on how much of the plant they ate, but each case comes with its own level of discomfort. 

Symptoms of Calla Lily Toxicity In Cats

Calla lilies cause irritation to the tissue the plant material comes in contact with, meaning most of the symptoms are outward signs of pain.

The signs will vary in severity based on how much your cat eats, but typically include the following:

  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the face, often frantic
  • Shaking their head constantly
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Attempting to eat, but pulling away due to oral pain
  • Ulcerations in the mouth
  • Blood tinged drool
  • Coughing or gagging
  • Respiratory distress in severe cases

If you catch your cat chewing on a calla lily, it’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Even if they just ate a small amount, early intervention can stop severe oral irritation as it develops.

Ulcers and irritation can develop as the hours pass, so it’s important to always act proactively in these situations, even if visible symptoms are not yet present.

How To Treat Calla Lily Toxicity In Cats

A well rounded treatment plan for calla lily toxicity in cats will vary based on how severe your cat’s symptoms are. To help you better understand what to expect at your vet’s office, let’s run through the most common approaches.

First, your veterinarian will perform a thorough oral exam to determine how severe the irritation is. This is especially important if your cat is showing any signs of respiratory distress, as this will help your vet determine if your cat needs any oxygen therapy.

If your cat is not tolerating an oral exam due to their pain, your vet may need to put them under general anesthesia to appropriately examine and treat the area.

If your cat is stable and free of any respiratory distress, your vet may flush their mouth to rid them of any existing toxic compounds. This is often done under general anesthesia, as most cats are not tolerant of this.

If your vet fears severe irritation in the GI tract, they may even suggest flushing the stomach as well. Your vet can also administer injectable pain control if your cat is experiencing extreme discomfort, as well as an anti-inflammatory medication.

Once the mouth has been addressed, your vet will determine the best plan of action for continued care at home. This may involve sending you home with a medicated mouthwash, anti-inflammatory medications, GI protectants, and pain control.

Severe cases may require hospitalization, but this is rare. When treated at the first sign of symptoms, most cats make a full recovery within 7-14 days. 

Are Calla Lilies Deadly To Cats?

Thankfully, calla lily ingestion in cats is rarely fatal. Though we did mention the potential for respiratory distress in rare cases, this is not common.

Calla lilies can certainly cause severe discomfort for the cat affected, but they are not considered life-threatening to our feline friends.

Calla lily toxicity in cats should always be taken seriously, but most cats make a full recovery if they receive adequate medical care.

Final Thoughts

Calla lilies should always be kept away from the feline friend in your home. If you do keep this type of plant in your home, be sure to try to keep in a place away from your cat. This might be difficult as cats can get to almost any place in your home, no matter where you put your plant.

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