Can I eat this, Cat Edition
July 21, 2012 12:20 PM   Subscribe

What is this plant / flower? Is it bad for cats to eat?

Our landlord left a mystery plant out on our patio. It had long, green, grass-like leaves. As we experimented with letting our cats outdoors, one of them reaaaaally wanted to nom on the leaves, and has done so a few times. Fast forward to this week, and it has sprouted a flower. It is a lily? If not, should we still be concerned? If it is a lily, is there anything we should do besides not let her eat it ever again?
posted by Phredward to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
That's a day lily. I don't know about the cat issue, sorry!
posted by pemberkins at 12:24 PM on July 21, 2012

Yup, looks like a day lily. Don't let them eat it any longer.
posted by kellyblah at 12:24 PM on July 21, 2012

Hemerocallis spp - daylily.

Yes, all lilies are poisonous to cats; many are dangerously so. Consult your vet. Best to keep it out of kitty's mouth and consider getting some cat grass in a pot. I'd plant the lily out in a bed - they colonize and spread (which may or may not be to your liking).
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 12:25 PM on July 21, 2012

If it were a true lily the answer would be OMG YES but hemerocallis are less so, and this page says not at all – although that's a site for day lily fanciers, who may be biased. After all, dried daylily buds are used in Chinese cookery, so they can't be widely toxic to all mammals.
posted by zadcat at 2:41 PM on July 21, 2012

If you look at the bottom of the page zadcat links to, you find this:
Because of the varied opinions, Donna sent this question to Pat Loveland who is chair of the Scientific committee. And Pat sent it to the members of her committee. This is their response:

A few years ago, daylily growers were dismayed by a report the ingested daylily plants were reported to be toxic to cats. The ASPGA currently lists daylily in its database of toxic plants. Linda Sue Barnes has been trying to get more information about the basis for this listing. Linda Samples has been corresponding with Dr. Wisner, whose credentials include not only being a Master Gardener but also works the poison control service of the ASPCA. According to Dr. Wiener:

"Owners of ill cats who were exhibiting signs of renal toxicity have identified [ingestion of] named daylilies, namely H. Stella D’ Oro.  A university in Michigan is currently working to actually identifying the toxin which is a water soluble complex sugar. It is closely related to toxin in grapes and raisins that affects dogs.  It will not cause renal toxicity in "all” dogs and at present they cannot explain why. However if the dog displays any signs of toxicity is not aggressively treated within 18 hours, it will die. The toxin affects the proximal renal tubules which in the process of shedding dead cells clogs the kidneys causing anurea. (the absence of urine production) and the animal dies. The same toxin from daylilies in cattle can cause blindness – but again, not in every instance. The selective nature of the toxicity in cats may be why our members the have had cats that munched on foliage or flowers and not become ill are raising questions. This toxin is specific for the feline and bovine species (at this time).  However, I must continue to warn those with cats that ingesting of daylilies could be fatal to their pets. It’s all in the timing, though. Vomiting will occur within 2-3 hours and if this is noted and the cat is taken to a veterinary clinic within 18 hours from ingestion and treated aggressively they may be fine. If they become toxic and are not aggressively treated with the time frame they will die.
Many things that are harmless to humans can be deadly to dogs or cats (chocolate, acetaminophen, onions, raisins, etc).
posted by Rock Steady at 3:45 PM on July 21, 2012 [5 favorites]

Thanks for that clarification, Rock Steady.

I'm all for keeping our kittehs safe.
posted by zadcat at 4:45 PM on July 21, 2012

I recently had a lecture on veterinary emergency nursing and critical care by a fantastic VTS (ECC) on toxicology and she covered lillies. The powerpoints from my lecture say that that daylilly can be toxic to cats I would air on the side of caution and chuck the plant.
posted by OsoMeaty at 7:35 PM on July 21, 2012

Thanks everybody. For what it's worth, in the past she munched on the leaves pretty hard, but exhibited no ill effects. Nevertheless, we will make sure that doesn't happen again in the future.
posted by Phredward at 8:47 PM on July 21, 2012

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