It has been quite a long winter and we are so glad it is finally, finally over…finally…we hope.
And with the Spring comes many things that you should think about for the safety of your pets and wildlife around you!
With Easter upon us, no doubt there have been lilies and daffodils and other springtime flowers adorning your home and yard. But did you know that some lilies are poisonous to cats and even dogs?
There are benign and dangerous lilies out there, and it’s important to know the difference! Benign (or non-toxic) lilies include the Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies, which contain insoluble oxalate crystals that cause minor signs such as tissue irritation to the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and esophagus. Clinical signs of drooling, pawing at the mouth, foaming, and vomiting may be seen.
The more dangerous, potentially fatal lilies are true lilies of the Lilium or Hemerocallisspecies. Examples of some of these dangerous lilies include the Tiger, Day, Asiatic hybrid, Easter, Japanese Show, Rubrum, Stargazer, Red, Western, and Wood lilies – all of which are highly toxic to cats! Even small ingestions (such as 2-3 petals or leaves) – even the pollen or water from the vase – can result in severe, acute kidney failure. Lily of the Valley is also included and though it does not cause kidney failure, it can cause life-threatening heart arrhythmias and death when ingested by dogs or cats.
If your cat is seen consuming any part of a lily, bring your cat (and the plant) immediately to a veterinarian for medical care. The sooner you bring in your cat, the better and more efficiently the lily poisoning can be treated. Decontamination (like inducing vomiting and giving binders like activated charcoal) are imperative in the early toxic stage, while aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, kidney function monitoring tests, and supportive care can greatly improve the prognosis. Intravenous fluids must be started within an 18 hour window for the best outcome.
Common signs to watch for if your cat has eaten lilies:
- Inappropriate urination or thirst
As springtime begins so too does “kitten season,” and Alley Cat Allies, the nation’s largest advocacy organization dedicated to cats, offers ways people can help cats and kittens this season.
“If you come across a kitten outdoors, you may be tempted to bring her home with you, but that may not be the best thing for the kitten,” said Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. “Deciding whether to take a kitten home with you or leave her where she is should be carefully considered based on the individual kitten’s situation and age.”
Alley Cat Allies offers the following tips to help kittens this season:
- Leave kittens with mom. Like all babies, kittens are best left with their mothers who instinctively know how to help their kittens grow up to be strong and healthy cats. Neonatal kittens, 4 weeks old or younger, need constant care and still depend on mom for 100 percent of their food. Kittens 5 to 8 weeks old can begin to eat wet food, but are still being weaned. If you know the mother is present, it is best to leave kittens with her. To determine whether the mother is caring for the kittens, wait and observe for two to four hours to see if the mother returns. The mother could just be out looking for food. If she doesn’t return within a day, the kitten could be abandoned. A young kitten living outdoors who does not have a mother present should be taken in and fostered. If the kitten is not weaned, she will require bottle-feeding and round-the-clock care.
- Do not bring a just born kitten to an animal shelter. Most shelter employees are not equipped or trained to provide round-the-clock care for neonatal kittens (up to 4 weeks of age). If a kitten cannot eat on her own, she will likely be killed at a shelter. Realistically, it is never a good idea to take a cat to a shelter. More than 70 percent of cats who enter shelters are euthanized there, and that number rises to virtually 100 percent for feral cats taken to shelters.
And while we are talking about abducting or displacing cute baby animals, let’s also talk about bunnies, squirrels, and birds. The # 1 rule about wildlife is: DON’T TOUCH IT. Unless the animal is obviously injured, emaciated, or you know the mother has not been by to take care of the babies, do not pick them up and bring them into your home as a pet. Wild animals are not meant to be pets!
Signs that a wild animal needs your help:
- A cat or dog presents the wild animal to you
- Evidence of bleeding
- An apparent or obvious broken limb
- A featherless or nearly featherless bird on the ground
- A dead parent nearby
If you observe the above signs, find help for the animal and safely capture and transporthim or her to the appropriate place for treatment. Once you’re sure the animal needs your help, call a wildlife rehabilitator for assistance. If you’re unable to locate a rehabilitator, try contacting one of the following:
- Local animal shelter or humane society
- Animal control agency
- Nature center
- Veterinarian (including us!)
Once you’ve contacted someone who can help, describe the animal and his physical condition as accurately as possible. Unless you are told otherwise, here’s how you can make an animal more comfortable for transport or while you’re waiting for help to arrive:
- Never handle an adult animal without first consulting with a wildlife professional. Even small animals can injure you.
- Put the animal in a safe container. For most songbirds, a paper bag may be used for transport. For larger birds or other animals, use a cardboard box or similar container. First, punch holes for air, from the inside out, and line the box with an old T-shirt or other soft cloth.
- Put on thick gloves and use a towel or pillowcase to cover the animal as you scoop him up gently and place him in the container.
- Do not give the animal food or water: it may cause him to choke, develop digestive problems, or drown. Also, many injured animals are in shock, and eating or drinking can make it worse.
- Place the container in a warm, dark, quiet place—away from pets, children, and noise—until you can transport the animal. Be sure to keep the container away from direct sunlight, air conditioning, or heat.
- Transport the animal as soon as possible.
- While transporting the animal, leave the radio off and keep talking to a minimum.
With all that said, I think I’m going to find a nice spot of sun before the winter comes back…again…with snow…(grumble, grumble).
Til next meow,