This is a freak accident but nonetheless a very real possibility. We know that lilies are highly toxic to cats. The pollen of the lily can kill a cat. Lilies should never be in a house in which there are domestic cats.
On this occasion Kristian Turner’s cat Loras was stung by a bee which was carrying toxic lily pollen. The small amount of pollen on the bee was ingested by Loras and it was enough to kill him. The pollen caused his kidneys to shut down.
Loras was being cared for by Kristian’s mother in Stoke-on-Trent while he was moving home in Cambridge. She noticed that Loras had been stung by a bee and was licking the area of the sting. He was taken to a vet who treated him for an infection and then discovered that he was suffering from lily poisoning but too late to save him.
Lily poisoning has to be diagnosed very quickly, within 48 hours, otherwise it appears to be fatal due to acute renal failure. Cats treated within 18 hours normally recover, it is said. The symptoms of renal failure are depression, vomiting, loss of appetite, dehydration. Blood work identifies the presence of the toxin. There are no effective home treatments.
I’d be surprised if anybody would envisage or imagine that a cat could be poisoned by lily pollen carried by a bee. I would have thought that a bee could transfer the pollen to a cat even though the bee didn’t sting the cat. The dangerous aspect of lily pollen is that it is so toxic and only a small amount is necessary to seriously harm or kill a domestic cat.
My research tells me that lilies are not toxic to people (or far less toxic). This begs the question what is the difference between cats and humans that makes lily pollen so toxic to cats. I am yet to find the answer. Apparently the exact toxin is yet to be identified.
Is not just the pollen which is toxic to cats. All parts of the lily including the leaves, petals, stem and stamens are poisonous to cats. Even minor exposure can be fatal.
Caretaker/guardians should be very aware of the dangers of lilies to cats. Easter lilies, tiger lilies, stargazer lilies and day lilies are the ones which are the most toxic. Other species of lily apparently do not cause kidney damage but that does not mean that they’re not dangerous because they are toxic in their own right.