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Are cats allergic to Arum Lily or is it toxic to them?

Arum lily in Ukiyo-e art style

The arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica), also known as calla lily, is a beautiful flowering plant commonly found in gardens, parks, and as ornamental houseplants.

While cats are not actually allergic to arum lilies, these plants are highly toxic to cats if ingested. The arum lily contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which can cause severe irritation and inflammation in a cat’s mouth, throat, and digestive tract.

Toxicity level

Moderate

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Additional image of the plant

Symptoms your cat may have

If a cat chews on or ingests any part of an arum lily plant, it will likely start showing symptoms very quickly. The insoluble calcium oxalate crystals will cause:

  • Oral irritation and pain
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Loss of appetite

In severe cases, swelling of the airways can make breathing difficult. Seek immediate veterinary care if you suspect your cat has ingested arum lily.

Potential diagnosis your Vet may give

If you bring your cat to the vet suspecting arum lily poisoning, they will conduct a thorough examination to assess the severity. Here are the likely steps:

  1. Perform a physical exam to check the mouth, throat, and overall condition.
  2. Take a detailed history of possible exposure to arum lily plants.
  3. Recommend blood tests and other diagnostics to evaluate organ function.
  4. Provide supportive care such as fluids, pain relief, and anti-inflammatory medications.
  5. Monitor closely for signs of kidney failure, which can occur with other types of lily poisoning.

More info: Pet Poison Helpline – Calla Lily

An illustrative banner depicting an anthropomorphic cat in a vet's office, alongside a call-to-action message that reads: 'If you suspect your pet may have ingested a potentially toxic substance,' accompanied by a prominent button stating 'Find A Vet Near Me!
An illustrative banner depicting an anthropomorphic cat in a vet's office, alongside a call-to-action message that reads: 'If you suspect your pet may have ingested a potentially toxic substance,' accompanied by a prominent button stating 'Find A Vet Near Me!

FAQ

Q: Are cats allergic to arum lilies?

A: Cats are not allergic to arum lilies, but these plants are highly toxic to cats if ingested. The toxicity is due to insoluble calcium oxalate crystals present in the plant, which can cause severe irritation and inflammation in a cat’s mouth, throat, and digestive tract.

Q: What are the symptoms of arum lily poisoning in cats?

A: Symptoms of arum lily poisoning in cats include immediate pain and burning sensation in the mouth, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, pawing at the mouth, vomiting, and decreased appetite. In severe cases, swelling of the airways can make breathing difficult.

Q: What should I do if my cat ingests an arum lily?

A: If you suspect your cat has ingested any part of an arum lily, seek immediate veterinary care. The veterinarian will likely conduct a thorough examination, which may include blood tests, urinalysis, and possibly X-rays or ultrasounds to assess the extent of the poisoning and potential complications.

Q: Are all parts of the arum lily toxic to cats?

A: Yes, all parts of the arum lily plant contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals and are toxic to cats if ingested.

Q: Where do arum lilies originate from?

A: Arum lilies, also known as calla lilies, are native to southern Africa, including South Africa, Lesotho, and Eswatini. They have been cultivated as ornamental plants for centuries and were introduced to Europe sometime before the late 1600s, gaining popularity during the Victorian era.

Q: Are there any safe alternatives to arum lilies for cat owners?

A: While the article doesn’t specifically mention safe alternatives, it’s generally recommended that cat owners choose pet-safe plants. Some options include spider plants, Boston ferns, and catnip. Always research a plant’s safety before bringing it into a home with cats.

History of the Arum Lily

The arum lily is native to southern Africa, including South Africa, Lesotho, and Eswatini. It has been cultivated as an ornamental plant for centuries and was brought to Europe sometime before the late 1600s. The plant gained popularity during the Victorian era as a symbol of purity and rebirth.

By the 20th century, arum lilies spread to other parts of the world as garden and houseplants. Despite their toxicity to cats, they remain a common horticultural plant today.

Further reading and sources

Please note: The information shared in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as veterinary medical advice.

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