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Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) are beautiful plant that has lush, deep green leaves and bears white flowers. They are easy to grow and require less sunlight to thrive which makes the peace lily an ideal houseplant.
The peace lily is not a true lily (Lilium spp) but has got its name because it looks very similar to the lily in appearance.
As the peace lily is called a ‘lily’, there is confusion about whether the peace lily is actually a lily that belongs to the Lilium and Hemerocallis genus which are extremely toxic to cats.
In this article, we have discussed what you need to know about peace lilies, whether they are as toxic as true lilies, and everything you can do to keep your cat safe and happy.
Are Peace Lilies Toxic to Cats?
Peace lilies contain insoluble or calcium oxalate crystals which are toxic, which are microscopic needle-like crystals. Many houseplants contain these crystals. If your cat chews or bites into the plant, these crystals get released and damage the tissues which are what causes a burning sensation.
It is good news that although peace lilies can cause discomfort, they don’t cause kidney failure as would properties of true lilies which can cause serious discomfort.
According to research, other species of lilies such as the Lilium and Hemerocallis genus are highly toxic where the injury could be severe. Cases show that eating lilies or simply drinking water from a container that has true lilies can result in total kidney failure in cats in anywhere between 36 to 72 hours. It has been observed that even when cats brush past lilies, they tend to groom their coats and eventually are known to have acute kidney problems.
How to Keep Your Cat Away from Peace Lilies?
Even though peace lilies are not extremely toxic to cats, it might be a good idea to be cautious and keep your cat away from the plants. The best way to keep cats from coming to contact with or eating peace lilies is simply not to have peace lilies at home. However, seeing that these plants make excellent houseplants, you could risk assessing the situation and come up with a few solutions that would help to keep your cat away from peace lilies.
Think about the location where peace lilies are kept and attempt to keep the plant in an area that is out of reach for your cat. Remember that your furry friend can jump onto furniture or benchtops to get to the plant, so take into consideration all this when making sure your cat can’t reach it.
If the location of your peace lily can’t be changed so keep it away from your cat, then here are some easy tips that you could try to discourage your cat from exploring your peace lily.
- Place some citrus, mint, lavender, or rosemary plants next to your peace lily as cats don’t enjoy the smells of these plants.
- Cats don’t really like the scent of coffee. Mix some coffee grinds into the potting soil of your peace lily to keep the cat away.
- Adding gravel to the plant’s soil is a good way to prevent the cat from messing up with the plant and digging its soil.
- If everything else fails, then have some water play! Cats don’t like water so use water as a deterrent by spraying your cat every time it comes near your peace lily. This is an extreme measure to keep your cat away, but it has proven to work in many cases.
Remember that every cat is different so what works for one may not work for the other.
Signs and Symptoms of Toxicity
If the calcium oxalate crystals of the peace lily have come into contact with your cat, it can develop the following signs:
- Oral pain
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Excessive licking
- Lethargy as the cat gets irritated easily without any reason
- Decreased appetite as the cat will stop eating properly
- Pawing at the mouth, the cat will constantly do this
- Swelling of the upper airway making breathing difficult (rare but possible)
What to Do If Your Cat Ingests Peace Lilies
In most cases, the symptoms will subside in a few hours and your cat will be alright, but it is a good idea to go to the vet immediately to prevent any serious complications.
There are no definite antidotes for an immediate cure, but you can try to give your cat some yogurt or lactose-free milk which acts as a cooling demulcent.
Remember that most adolescent animals are lactose intolerant, so giving them high amounts of lactose can result in diarrhea. So, you should give them regular dairy products carefully and in noted quantity.
Before carrying out any treatment, it is important to correctly identify the plant that caused the toxicity. So, if you take your cat to the vet, then take a leaf cutting of the plant or show a photo of the plant to the vet. This will help them with the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Other Cat-Friendly Plants
If you are a pet owner and you love to have indoor plants, it might be a good idea to not grow peace lilies at home, just to make sure your cat is safe. You could have other beautiful cat-safe plants at home, such as Boston ferns, Swedish ivy, and Christmas cactus.
Always choose indoor plants carefully if you have pets and keep an eye on how your cat behaves around your houseplants. Take note that cats are reliant on meat and don’t digest a plant-based diet, so eating any plant material can cause harm, whether toxic or not.
It is good to know that although peace lilies are toxic to cats, they are not as toxic as some varieties that can cause serious concerns. Although there can be anecdotes that may help, it is always a good idea to visit your vet whenever you are concerned.
Now that you are aware of how toxic your peace lily can be for your cat, and what precautions you can take, you can be sure to provide the best care for your cat while you also enjoy your houseplants.