For the love of cats, leave lilies out of Valentine’s Day

RSPCA NSW wishes you and your furry friends a Happy Valentine’s Day but urges cat owners to give some thought to the kind of gifts they’re bringing home.

While festive plants and celebratory flowers can add a touch of romance to your Valentine’s Day, it is important to keep the well-being of our feline friends in mind.

Flowers, lilies in particular, might look great in your bouquet, but they are extremely toxic to cats and can cause severe, life-threatening problems if ingested.

“From the water in the vase to the lily’s stem, and even fallen bits of pollen, consumption of any segment of a lily may prove deadly for your cat,” says Dr. Gemma Ma, RSPCA NSW Veterinarian and Keeping Cats Safe at Home Project Manager.

“A kitty ingesting even small amounts can still cause rapid kidney failure, which may prove fatal within 36 to 72 hours after ingestion.”

Cats who have ingested lilies may begin to vomit but might not show any overt signs of illness at all. Kidney failure, meanwhile, manifests as a disinterest in food, dehydration, depression, lethargy, and excessive or no urination. Once a cat is showing clinical signs of kidney failure it is often too late, and the damage dealt to its delicate kidneys might already be irreversible.

If you suspect that your cat has eaten any segment of a lily plant, take them to your local vet immediately, or an emergency veterinary hospital. Your cat will stand the greatest chance of survival if the lily is taken out of its system as quickly as possible before it is absorbed.

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Create your own DIY cat bouquet this valentine’s day with things like sunflowers, rosemary, thyme and cilantro

Here are a few of our useful tips to keep your feline friends from harm:

  • Take the time to do your research on which plants might be toxic to cats. Do some digging before you buy to avoid bringing anything dangerous home.
  • Keep your flowers away: if you receive a bouquet, place the flowers out of reach until you’re able to determine whether they’re safe for your furry friend.
  • Substitute with cat-friendly plants and flowers, ones that are safe for your cat to enjoy; consider buying sunflowers, cat grass, spider plants, certain succulents, and more.

“Realistically, the ingestion of any plant can bring out symptoms in your cat such as gastrointestinal upsets and irritation of the skin. That being said, there are plenty of plants that are safe for cats to nibble or sniff,” says Dr. Ma.

“The ones that everyone will know about are catnip and cat grass, but they might like to explore other, safer flowers and certain potted plants as well. If you’re planning to spoil your cats this Valentine’s Day, you can create your very own cat-safe bouquet filled with things like sunflowers, dry catnip, spider plants, cat grass, rosemary, thyme, and cilantro.”

For more information and tips on how to keep your cat safe this Valentine’s Day and beyond visit