Although it is a beautiful plant, many owners have worries about peace lilies and their possible toxicity. It’d be a tragedy for a pet to ingest a plant and poison itself, so it’s important to know which plants are toxic and which ones are safe.
Read on to learn is a peace lily toxic to cats, as well as what to do in case of pet poisoning and how to keep your pets away from your plants!
- Are Peace Lily Toxic to Cats and Dogs
- What Part of the Peace Lily is Poisonous?
- How Is Peace Lily Toxic?
- What To Do If My Cat Eats a Peace Lily?
- How Do I Know If My Cat Ate a Poisonous Plant?
- How to Keep Cats Away From Peace Lily
- Verdict: Is Peace Lily Poisonous to Cats
Are Peace Lily Toxic to Cats and Dogs
Yes, peace lilies are toxic. However, they aren’t nearly as toxic as true lilies that belong to the Liliaceae family. Indeed, peace lilies aren’t actual lilies.
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Is a Peace Lily Toxic to Cats
Peace lilies are toxic to cats, but they’re not as dangerous as actual lilies. A cat would have to ingest great amounts of the plant to cause serious, potentially fatal health issues.
Is a Peace Lily Toxic to Dogs
Just like with cats, peace lilies are toxic to dogs. However, the same rule applies – a dog would have to eat a lot of the plant to cause severe poisoning or cause serious damage to itself.
What Part of the Peace Lily is Poisonous?
Not all plants have equally toxic parts. There are plants that are toxic to the touch, and then there are plants with toxic roots, but safe-to-eat leaves.
For example, lily bulbs are poisonous to pets, but this doesn’t apply to peace lilies as they’re not actual lilies.
Are Peace Lilies Poisonous to Touch?
Peace lilies are not poisonous to the touch – an animal or a person would have to ingest a part of the plant to get poisoned. Although a minor reaction is possible if the plant is touched (specifically the leaves), it’s usually unimportant and incomparable to the reaction caused by ingesting a part of the plant.
The only scenario in which peace lilies can be poisonous to the touch is in the case of ocular contact. If a cat or a dog somehow rubbed their eyes on the leaves, it could cause severe eye pain, swelling, and extreme light sensitivity.
How Is Peace Lily Toxic?
Peace lilies contain crystals that cause irritation when ingested. However, pets usually aren’t in grave danger if they do happen to eat some.
How Toxic Are Peace Lilies to Cats?
It’s difficult to quantify toxicity with no context, but the best way to explain how toxic peace lilies are is to compare their toxicity class with actual lilies.
Peace lilies have a toxicity level classification of 3 and 4. But what exactly does that mean?
Toxicity class 3 stands for oxalates, which are crystals (found in peace lilies among other plants) that irritate the skin and the insides if ingested. They can cause breathing difficulties and stomach upsets, but they’re not as serious as toxicity in classes 2 and 1.
Toxicity class 4 stands for dermatitis, meaning that the juice and sap of these plants can cause a rash if touched. However, this depends on the individual skin sensitivity of the animal in question.
In comparison to peace lilies, some actual lilies are classified as toxicity class 1 (checkered, climbing, and glory lilies). Toxicity class 1 stands for major toxicity – if ingested, these plants can cause death (in the worst case scenario) or serious illness (best case scenario). Keep in mind that this applies to adult humans too, not only pets.
Other lilies (Peruvian, spider, and lilies of the Nile) are classified as toxicity class 2. These plants are less toxic, but they can cause digestive issues.
So, when asked just how toxic is a peace lily to cats, it’s important to take other lilies into account. Peace lilies usually can’t kill pets, unless ingested in very large quantities, so there’s usually no reason to panic.
The question is, what is the mechanism behind peace lily poisoning?
What Happens If a Cat Eats Peace Lily
Two things can happen to a cat after ingesting a peace lily. The long-term problem is called hyperoxaluria – which means that there’s an excessive amount of oxalate in the urine.
This can be caused by eating too much of oxalate-rich foods, such as peace lilies. Although people don’t eat peace lilies (and we usually cook normal foods that are rich in oxalates), if a cat or a dog regularly eats peace lilies and doesn’t learn their lesson, they could develop hyperoxaluria.
Hyperoxaluria is recognized by bloody urine, too-frequent urination, and painful urination. They often cause kidney stones. Kidney stones are not common in cats, but they are moderately common in dogs, so the chances of developing them rise with the ingestion of peace lilies.
When it comes to short-term issues, we’re specifically talking about poisoning. Cats aren’t poisoned by the peace lily itself, but by the calcium oxalates. Specifically, their shape.
These crystals are insoluble and they’re shaped like needles, which can obviously cause a lot of pain. The symptoms of ingestion are very similar in humans, cats, and dogs.
The poisoned animal starts hypersalivation and it refuses food, often refusing water too. Swallowing anything becomes difficult and painful, so a sudden loss of weight is likely.
Vomiting is also very common, as the body is trying to get rid of whatever’s causing the irritation. Because of their rigid shape and the fact that they’re pointy, these crystals are difficult to get out, so vomiting is often ineffective.
Shortness of breath can another symptom, albeit a highly rare one.
Because of these physical symptoms, the animal will often become distressed, which can lead to erratic and/or depressive behavior. Animals in pain can turn to aggressive behavior out of fear.
Other Plants with Similar Effects
Peace lilies aren’t the only plants with calcium oxalates. Other plants that can cause the same problems are arrowhead vines, umbrella plants, elephant’s ears, and dumbcanes, among others.
What To Do If My Cat Eats a Peace Lily?
The only thing you can do is contact your veterinarian if your pet displays any of the side effects referred to in this article, and follow their instructions. However, you first need to know how to recognize plant poisoning (and in this case, specifically peace lily poisoning).
If you’re sure that your cat has been poisoned, call your veterinarian immediately. Don’t come into the clinic unless they tell you to – many poisonings are minor and can be treated at home, peace lily poisonings are one such example.
Can a Cat Survive After Eating Lilies?
Survival is possible if your cat ingested any part of a true lily (any lily belonging to the Liliaceae family), but their chances are, unfortunately, very slim. True lilies are highly toxic and ingesting a leaf or a flower is so dangerous that adult humans are in danger of dying.
Cats are much smaller than people and their natural tolerance to toxicity is naturally lower.
However, when it comes to peace lilies, the news is much better. Peace lily intoxication usually isn’t fatal and your cat likely won’t need hospitalization.
Irritation of the digestive tract as well as the mouth isn’t fatally dangerous. The burning sensation your cat will feel is probably the most obvious symptom and you can expect that your pet will be in a lot of pain.
This will be followed by drooling and vomiting.
Luckily, none of these symptoms are close to dangerous when the big picture is taken into account.
After informing your vet about what happened, you’ll most likely be instructed not to bring your cat in!
There are effective home remedies, such as milk and canned tuna, which can flush the mouth out and minimize the burning sensation.
According to your vet’s advice, you might have to apply anti-emetics or analgesics. Although you can bring your cat to the vet if you insist on it, you’ll likely be instructed to wait for 24 hours and see if the symptoms subside.
How Do I Know If My Cat Ate a Poisonous Plant?
Some signs of poisoning are more obvious than others and they greatly depend on the level of toxicity of the plant.
The severity of the symptoms depends on the exact toxic agents contained within the plant, the amount of the plant your pet ingested, and your pet’s tolerance to toxic agents (usually determined by their weight and overall health).
Most poisonings, no matter how dangerous or minor they are, cause stomach aches. When animals feel pain, they tend to retreat and do not want to interact with other animals or with their owners. If your pet has suddenly moved away and is refusing to move, this could be a result of pain.
Animals may refuse food and water if the pain is serious. Vomiting and diarrhea are also common, as the body is trying to purge itself of the toxic agents.
In the case of irritating toxins, such as the one found in peace lilies, animals will start drooling, grooming, and pawing at their mouth excessively. They’re trying to clean their mouths and minimize the burning sensation.
These irritants also cause swelling of the mouth, lips, and tongue. In extreme cases, it can cause swelling of the trachea, but this is very rare. If it does happen, your pet will experience difficulty breathing which is very serious.
On top of all that, any single one of the following symptoms can occur twitching, seizures, coughing, loss of consciousness, skin inflammation, fever, and coma.
Keep in mind that many of these symptoms are also symptoms of various illnesses, not only poisonings. If several of these symptoms occur at the same time, you should contact your vet.
If some of the more serious symptoms (seizures, loss of consciousness) occur, the poisoning (or the illness) can be described as very serious and you should take your pet to the vet immediately.
How to Keep Cats Away From Peace Lily
Since cats are so curious about nature, it’s difficult to keep them away from plants. One method is hanging the plant from the ceiling, but there are many cats capable of reaching them either way.
Cat repellants are a very effective way of keeping cats at bay. They often contain lemon, which cats can’t stand – they won’t lick or eat anything that tastes or smells like a lemon.
Air containers triggered by movement are also available at pet shops – this is a very effective way of training your cat to stay away from the plant, as your cat will quickly learn that it’ll get sprayed with air every time it gets close to the plant.
How Do I Make My Peace Lily Pet Safe?
There’s no way to neutralize your peace lily’s toxic properties. To make it pet-safe, you have to physically remove it from the environment, use glass enclosures to ensure your pets don’t get to it, or use any of the methods mentioned in the previous section to teach your pets to stay away.
Verdict: Is Peace Lily Poisonous to Cats
So, is a peace lily toxic to cats? Yes, but not to a fatal degree. It causes oral and digestive inconveniencies and discomfort, but usually nothing more than that.
In extreme cases, it can cause difficulties breathing, which is definitely dangerous, but even that can be treated by vets.
If you’re concerned that your cat suffered poisoning, contact your vet immediately and follow their advice!