No, seriously, the TV show ‘Friends’ is responsible for both of my cats being alive right now. So allow me to share a story with you about how a 15 year plus long obsession with the hit show has made me grateful for, well, obsessions.
On the evening of Saturday, June 14th I left my friend’s house to go home. She stopped me before I got into my car to give me some flowers, “Miranda, wait! A lily for you and your mom.”
I turned back excitedly and took them both from her. Lilies are my favorite flowers, and my mom is a plant and flower buff, and these happened to be huge, gorgeous Tiger Lilies. I set them carefully in my car’s cup holder and went home where I then deposited them into a cup of water, set them on the counter where my mom would see them in the morning, and went to sleep with both my cats snuggled in bed.
Sunday morning dawned bright and with anticipation of family converging on my mom’s house. We woke up lazily around 9:30 and my mom started to make breakfast. I went into the kitchen, noting that the lily cup had been moved from the counter to the windowsill. I thought nothing of it, figuring that whoever was up before me wanted more counter space. I pointed them out to my mom, saying, “Rachel gave these to us!”
At that moment my kitty, Picard, who will be one year old next month, hopped onto the windowsill and sauntered toward the flowers. She took a delicate sniff, then licked quickly at the inner stems, swallowing two pollen buds in one gulp.
I huffed and laughed, commenting on what a bad cat she was, and picked her up to put her on the floor. It was at that moment, which a shock of horror, that a scene from ‘Friends’ drifted into my mind (Season 7, Episode 2 "The One With Rachel's Book" for those that are curious):
Monica: It sucks! No swing band! No lilies!
Phoebe: But that’s good! You don’t want lilies! If a cat ate them, it would die!
I turned to my mom.
“Aren’t lilies toxic to cats? Phoebe says so on ‘Friends’ but I don’t know if she’s joking or not!”
My mom looked troubled, a small furrow appearing in her brow as she thought.
“I really don’t know.”
It was time to take action, so I first consulted my phone. A quick google search returned a long, long list of websites that screamed about the dangers of lilies to cats. I scanned the websites reading about symptoms showing within 6-12 hours, renal failure within 2-3 days, and immediate vet care being necessary.
With a thick throat I called the emergency vet, hoping that the Internet at large was overreacting and underinformed (hey, it happens). When I finally had a technician on the phone though she explained to me that two pollen buds was a fatal dosage. Tears immediately filled my eyes. I nodded, unseen to her, as she spoke of the severity and how I needed to get to their office right away.
The next few minutes was a flurry of clothing (I being in pajamas at the time), enticing wafts of bacon, my mom on the phone telling my Grandma that someone else would be picking her up from the ferry in half an hour instead of me, and a scramble for the cat carrier. During this chaos my mom’s boyfriend overheard the commotion and struck me with further dread.
“One of the flowers was on the ground when I got up this morning,” he told me, “It had chew marks on it and I just put it back.”
At this point we grabbed my second cat, Data, and put him in his carrier too. We had no proof, aside from his unwavering love of plants and obsession for dragging things around, and I really wasn’t interested in taking chances. The only thing that kept me from falling into a pit of pure hysteria was the fact that the flowers had been in the house less than 12 hours and Data was still acting normally.
My boyfriend and I had a tense drive to the emergency vet, both cats in tow and Data yowling the whole way. Upon our arrival we gave our furry babies lots of hugs and kisses before they were whisked away for immediate blood work, vomit inducing medication, and intravenous fluids to hopefully flush their systems before their kidneys could absorb the toxins.
Fortunately, amazingly, magnificently, both of the cats are fine. They stayed at the emergency vet until Tuesday morning when they were both deemed OK to go home. Each of their blood tests showed either no anomolies (for Picard) or a teeny bit elevated calcium level for Data which has been looked into. I asked the vet why that was: I honestly expected to be told about crazy levels and dangerous brushes with death, especially since I watched Picard eat two pollen buds. The vet’s best explanation was that we got them to the vet so quickly and as a result they were able to flush their systems before any damage could take place.
So thank you to ‘Friends’, the show creators, runners, and writers. Thank you for Phoebe’s wacky character and being concerned that cats wouldn’t be able to attend Monica’s wedding. Thank you for bringing a show into the world that is so consuming that daily, run-of-the-mill words become trigger words to remember a scene or a line.
Thank you for saving my cats’ lives!
Remember that lilies are toxic to cats! Many plants and flowers are, so be sure to consult guides or your veterinarian to find out which ones are safe to bring into a cat filled home.