The case of kitten Norma

Norma is a 6 month old tortoiseshell kitten full of personality who came to us in August for a sore foot. Normally an indoor cat, she managed to get outside and may have gotten into trouble with another cat as she had two puncture marks that may have been from a bite. But what else may she have got up to?

When antibiotics and pain relief didn't seem to be making her feel any better, blood was taken to look for another underlying problem. We found that she had very high kidney values which is very unusual in such a young cat. This is normally something we see in older cats as their kidneys start to wear out. In this case we were concerned that maybe Norma had a congenital problem and was born with faulty kidneys, but they seemed ok on ultrasound.

Norma stayed in hospital for several days on high rates of fluids to flush the kidneys and we monitored her electrolytes and continued her antibiotics for her foot. After a few days her kidney values were back down to normal and follow up tests after she went home showed her kidneys were functioning normally.

We don't know what caused Norma's kidney disease but a very common cause of acute renal failure is toxicity and in cats eating plant material from the lily family can be extremely poisonous. All parts of the lily are toxic to cats including the leaves and flowers. As little as 2 or 3 leaves can be lethal. Very shortly after eating part of a lily the cat will start to vomit (this will gradually subside over 2 to 4 hours). The cat will be listless and won't want to eat. By 12 to 24 hours it will be urinating a lot, becoming dehydrated and eventually won't be urinating at all. Vomiting will often start again by 36 hours and the cat will become weaker. By 3 or 4 days it will be unable to move and death occurs by 4 to 7 days.

Luckily Norma's renal disease may have been caused by something else, as she didn't present with the classic signs mentioned above. If you suspect your cat has eaten lilies then it is important to seek veterinary attention straight away. 24 hours of fluids within 24 hours of ingestion can prevent kidney failure.

But prevention is the best cure, so keep those lilies out of reach!


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