Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Toxicology Tuesday, July 17

Here’s a beautiful "Tuesday" post. What's your answer to this one?

Toxic or Not?

Easter Lily

Stargazer Lily

Peace Lily

Answer: The first two plants are toxic to cats. The third, while technically "toxic," only cause mild local irritation.

Did I catch anyone? Easter Lilies and Stargazer Lilies, actually all members of the Lilium family, when ingested in any quantity, will cause kidney failure in cats. The toxic principal is unknown at this time, although all parts – leaves, flowers, etc. – are considered poisonous.

The third photo is a Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) and is not really a lily at all. It does contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause oral irritation, including a burning sensation in the mouth, excessive drooling or vomiting, but isn’t fatal.

The take-home lesson here is to know what kind of plants you have in your home and gardens. If you don’t know the name of the plant, it does no good at all to call your vet and say “Fluffy just ate a big green leaf. Is it poisonous?” A scientific name is best, but at least a common name is essential if you want a straight answer. A good source for information about toxic plants is the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center.

Second take-home lesson: Watch your floral arrangements, too.

A client kindly gave me this bouquet in appreciation for my care. Lovely, isn’t it? Look closely:

Those are Stargazer Lilies among the roses and greenery. I thanked her very politely, and took the arrangement to my mom’s feline-free condo, where no munching cats could reach it. Just say “No” to lilies if you are a cat owner.


ANDREA said...

Hi KatDoc,
I found that the Lily (the first two plants are Lilies, aren't they?) is very toxic for the cat, because it ruins the cat's kidneys but that otherwise almost every part of the flower is edible to us?? Could you confirm this please before I try some and end up with bad kidneys?
The third plant, (we call it Aronstab) is toxic too. For cats. And for men too?

nina said...

Hmmmm. Houseplants I'd rule out. I know MANY are bad--especially the tropical ones ("dumb cane"...)--so, odds are, don't let them eat any, except grass?

KGMom said...

Going to hazard a guess here and say--toxic on all counts. I don't know specifically, but many plants with tropical origins are, and these look tropical.
But then again--I may be wrong.

Mary Ann said...

I'm pretty sure lilies are toxic to cats.

Anonymous said...

Plants 1 and 2 toxic, plant 3 not toxic? I love your blog. It has a lot of interesting information!

Julie Zickefoose said...

I feel better about the lilies than the anthurium. Anything with a spathe and spadix is bound to have nasties in it: witness the jack-in-the-pulpit--with awful throat-closing crystals. I'm curious about the lilies though. Tell us!
(this post reminds me of once when I was slicing scallions and also taking the stem ends off a bunch of jonquils. I accidentally diced and put the jonquil ends in a stir-fry and threw out the scallions...a call to the poison control center told me I just needed to watch for stomach upset (there was none) but that I probably hadn't killed myself or my boyfriend...

Lynne said...

My husband's cousin in Germany accidentally sliced lillies of the valley into a salad. Two people were hospitalized- very ill. I vote toxic.

KatDoc said...

Well, what do you know? I fooled the Science Chimp! Of course, Julie is not a cat person, so she is forgiven for not knowing that lilies are toxic to cats.

I don't know about lilies and people; of all the animals on this planet, the only one I am legally not allowed to treat is the human animal, so I won't hazard a guess as to whether people can eat lilies. I know I have eaten violet flowers, and zucchini flowers can be found in fancy salads, but please don't eat lilies without better information.

Diffenbachia ("dumb cane") also contains calcium oxalates, like Peace Lily. As well as the signs listed on the main post, calcium oxalates can cause difficulty swallowing.

Jack-in-the-pulpit contains calcium oxalates, too, primarily found in the corms. "Cattle, sheep, goats, and swine are susceptible to this poisoning, but they seldom eat enough of the plant to cause trouble. The corms would doubtless affect any animal that ate them." [quote from the library of Vet. Med. at the U of Ill.] (This web site also suggests ways to erradicate Jack - HORRORS!)

Lily of the valley is also toxic, but not a true lily. (signs include ataxia, vomiting, cardiac arrhymias, and death.) The name "lily" is used in lots of plants that are not members of the Lilium family.

Kathy, welcome to the blog and thanks for the nice comment.

Thanks to everyone for playing our game,


KGMom said...

Thanks for the info, Kat-Doc. What I saw in that photo of lovely flowers is the baby's breath. I had a cat who LOVED baby's breath. So we bought her a bouquet of just that when we got flowers for ourselves. Then she left our flowers alone while she munched on the baby's breath.

Mary said...

Darn I missed the quiz this week but I'm glad I came to see the answers! Thanks!

ANDREA said...

Thank you, I'm so glad to know now about the toxicity Lilies because I'm sure my male cat Oscar would try a bite. Once my husband gave me a bunch of 25 very beautiful red roses. I put them on the dining table and an hour later all their heads had been cut off by Oscar (male cat). He did not eat them, just bite the stem. A massacre. Now I don't ever get roses again, only tulips because Tulips he ignores. And I'll avoid Lilies!