Warning after Valentine’s Day bouquet of lilies killed Hailsham mum’s three cats

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A heartbroken mum has issued a stark warning about the dangers of lilies after three of her cats died from ingesting the poisonous flower she received for Valentines Day.

Sonia Barnett believes her three cats died after coming into contact with the white blooms she received for Valentine’s Day.

Sonia Barnett with surviving cat - others were killed by lily pollen

Sonia Barnett with surviving cat - others were killed by lily pollen

The Hailsham pet lover now faces a £1,000 vet bill after rushing Tinker and Garfy for medical help after they initially collapsed.

Both the one-year-old and 17-year-old felines died days later. Her third cat Charlie, the mother of four young kittens, also died this week after it had suffered the same symptoms.

Miss Barnett, who lives in Mortain Park, Hailsham with her daughter Lauren, is now warning people to be aware of the dangers of lilies in the run up to Mother’s Day. She is also calling for supermarkets and florists to place warnings on packaging when selling the flowers.

The heartbroken mum has already been to supermarkets in the area about the issue and said she was told they would look into the matter.

The 40-year-old, who has one other cat, Sparky, said: “Because of Mother’s Day coming up and people receiving flowers I want to warn people about lilies. If I can save one cat’s life I will. I’ve spoken to a flower arranger who has had cats for 20 years who didn’t know lilies were dangerous. I think there should be warnings about it.

“There’s no warning in any shops and with Mother’s Day coming up I need this danger highlighted. I want to go into every shop and take the lilies and stamp on them.”

She added: “I received a bunch of lilies for Valentine’s Day and put them on the window sill. The cats must have got up on the side and must have come into contact with them. I didn’t realise they had but they obviously have at some point.

“Then they collapsed so I took them to the vets because they were very ill. But the next day they weren’t any better so I took them back and the vet showed me a picture of a lily and said one part of it was poisonous to cats.

“To lose three of my cats has broken my heart. My daughter is devastated as well. It’s left a hole in my life, it’s horrible.”

Menna Field, a registered veterinary nurse at St Anne’s Veterinary Group, said there were supermarkets which had warnings on the flowers but she was calling on bigger warning signs to be made, “I’m trying to raise awareness about this and that the whole plant is poisonous.

“There has been research into this but it’s still not been determined what it is in the lilies that is fatal to the cats.”

Nicola Bates, Information Scientist at Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) said there are no regulations highlighting or warning of the risk to owners.

She said: “It is well recognised that lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. There are many cases reported in the veterinary literature. All parts of the plant are toxic including the pollen, flowers, stem and leaves. We have 1605 cases reported to us. Of these 482 cases have known outcome (dating from 1995): half the cats remained well, 37 per cent of cats developed signs of toxicity but recovered and 11 per of cats died or were euthanised after exposure to lilies.”

Richard Dodd of the British Retail Consortium said that as an owner of two cats himself he was genuinely sorry to hear Miss Barnett’s sad story.

He said: “Pet owners need to be aware of this, and other risks. Flowers are sold at a wide range of outlets but our members recognise how important this issue is.

“Generally, they include a warning on the label of flower products (even those that don’t contain lilies) saying that lilies are harmful to cats if eaten.”

For information about lily poisoning visit the Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB) website: www.fabcats.org/owners/poisons/plants.html