“Never give someone a gift of a lily if you know they have cats,” cautions Dr. Kenneth Harkin, associate professor of small animal internal medicine at Kansas State University.
There is an unknown water-soluble compound in the Easter lily that is harmful to cats. And it isn’t just Easter lilies, either. The tiger lily and Asiatic hybrid lily have the same cat-hazardous compound.
Whatever the compound is, it has no effect on dogs, rabbits or small rodents. Other types of plants and flowers, however, do pose hazards for these pets. Some Spring and Easter favorites dog-people (and rabbit-people and rodent-people) ought to avoid include: lily of the valley, oleander, kalanchoe, azalea, rhododendron and tulips. Yes, tulips.
If your household pet ever consumes a toxic plant, Harkin advises owners to identify the type of plant and get their pet to the vet immediately. Consumption of a toxic plant without immediate treatment could ultimately be fatal to the pet.
“If your cat or dog has a habit of eating plants, check out the toxicity of the plant before bringing it into the house of planting it in the garden,” Harkin said.