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Missy lucky to survive after brush with lily pollen

11th April 2017

The owners of a young cat have spoken of their relief that she is now recovering from poisoning by lily pollen. They are urging other owners to be vigilant if they have cut lilies in vases in their home. All parts of the plant are toxic to cats and its pollen is particularly dangerous.

Missy is a young cat owned by Ashley Wrightson, a roofer from Plympton, and his fiancée Sheree Cook. On Saturday 1 April, the couple returned home to find Missy behaving strangely. She did not come to greet them as normal and, as she came down the stairs, she was trailing her back legs behind her.  She was subdued and kept licking her lips. When he got closer to her Ashley noticed orange pollen on her face. He had bought a bunch of lilies recently for Sheree.

While he was not fully aware of the dangers of lilies to cats, he did remember reading that lily pollen could be toxic so he immediately contacted Westmoor Veterinary Hospital for advice. The team at Westmoor asked the couple to bring Missy in straight away so that they could assess her.

The out of hours team put her on intravenous fluids to flush out the toxin and carried out tests to monitor the function of the kidneys. She remained at the hospital for two days on a drip and, fortunately, her kidneys were found to be functioning normally, and she was able to return home.

The case vet explained: “The risk to cats from lilies is still not widely known so these cases are, unfortunately, all too common. The whole plant is toxic, and even the water they’ve been standing in, but the pollen is particularly dangerous because it can be groomed off a cat’s coat and ingested.  If not treated quickly, the poison can lead to acute kidney failure.

“If we see an affected cat early, we are much more likely to be successful in treating it but, sadly, in some cases, the poison has already caused damage to the kidneys which is irreversible. It is because Ashley and Sheree acted so quickly in getting Missy to us that she did not suffer more serious harm.

“Our advice would be to keep lilies out of the house and garden to reduce risk of exposure. Signs like vomiting, weakness and poor appetite set in within hours, so it’s best to act quickly and not wait for things to get worse. If you think your cat may be affected or find lily pollen on their coat, please contact your veterinary surgeon straight away.”

Ashley Wrightson added: “It was very frightening seeing Missy in such distress. Once she was at Westmoor Veterinary Hospital, we knew she was in good hands but it was still a worrying time until we knew that her kidney function was returning to normal. She was very pleased to get home and, while she’s still quite subdued, she seems to be enjoying getting back to her usual routine of having her dinner and sleeping on the sofa.

“I won’t be buying Sheree lilies in future. Luckily there are plenty of other flowers to choose from!”

Westmoor Veterinary Hospital Westmoor Veterinary Hospital is based at 1 Brook Lane, Tavistock and can be contacted on 01822 612561.