Did you know that some flowers are poisonous?

Approximately 1 year ago we, unfortunately, lost a cat named Gypsy.  This wasn’t just any cat- this was a cat that my boyfriend had grown very attached to over the year and a half they lived together.  Gypsy occupied a very special place in his heart and will forever reside there.

Almost everyone I know, pet owner or not, knows that Poinsettias are poisonous to both dogs and cats.  There are so many of these plants distributed during the winter holidays that I suppose this bit of information has infiltrated the minds of all who celebrate that time of year.  However, it seems to be less widely known that Lilies are ALSO very poisonous to cats.  This is the flower that took Gypsy from us last summer.

Unaware that I was introducing a serious toxin into the household, I brought home a few Stargazer Lilies from the shop.  They lasted for more than a week before starting to wilt.  The last remaining flower was tossed into a bud vase and soon began to shed pollen.  Late into the night we noticed that she had thrown up, which was a little strange but we didn’t think too much of it.  The following day she wouldn’t eat and was acting quite lethargic. Since it was after hours at this point, we planned to call the vet first thing in the morning to see what they had to say.  However, Gypsy then threw up a couple more times that night and around 3:00AM we decided to take her to the emergency vet after reviewing some possibilities and checking symptoms online.

Gypsy spent the next 2.5 days having her kidneys & liver flushed but they continued to fail.  Eventually it was time to make one of the hardest decisions a person can face.  Gypsy may not be with us anymore but she certainly made a big impression while she was here.  In addition to the love & companionship she provided, we also learned about the responsibilities of being a pet owner and the consequences of being under-educated.  Now, I constantly check the ingredients in all foods I buy and lock away anything potentially harmful.

Lilies are so harmful that just a little bit of pollen could have disastrous effects.  We suspect that Gypsy walked through some pollen that had fallen onto the table or floor and later licked it from her paws since none of the flowers from the bouquet showed signs of nibbling.  We also learned that almost any change in your cat’s behavior could be a warning sign, particularly loss of appetite.  We waited almost a full 24 hours after we noticed the first sign of distress before calling the vet.  Most toxins can do a lot of damage in that amount of time so it’s best to call your vet or the emergency vet if you suspect your cat is ill.

If you are ever unsure about a plant or food item you bring home here are a few resources to help you:

The ASPCA  http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/ask-the-expert/ask-the-expert-poison-control/

Pet MD  http://www.petmd.com/

Don’t hesitate to call your vet or the emergency vet if your vet is unavailable.  They were happy to help when we had two scares with Moxie (Rimadyl and baking cocoa).  I also recommend leaving a list of the most common toxic foods & plants for anyone that might take care of your pets while you vacation.  With a little extra attention & some education, keeping these lists of toxins in mind while you shop will become second nature.  Sometimes a little extra knowledge can make all the difference.

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