Monstera, also known as “Split leaf Philodendron” or “Swiss cheese plant” is one of the most popular houseplants out there.
It’s easy to grow and take care of, making it a great choice for entry-level home growers. If you have cats in your house, you might be wondering about their safety in the presence of the plant.
This leads us to today’s question “Are Monsteras toxic to cats?”
Monstera plants contain calcium oxalate crystals. These are common toxins that irritate the mouth and throat when ingested. These crystals are also toxic to other pets as well as humans, so you have to keep the plant out of your cat’s reach.
If you want to find out more about the plant’s toxicity, and how to keep both your plant and cat safe, this guide will have you covered with everything you need to know
Are Monstera Plants Toxic to Cats?
Although Monstera plants may look harmless, they’re actually toxic to cats, according to the classification of the ASPCA.
That being said, classifying the plant as “toxic” can be a little stretched here, as it gives you the impression that the plant is dangerous, although this is not the case.
Like many other plants that belong to the Araceae (Arum) family, the Monstera plant contains calcium oxalate crystals.
These insoluble crystals can cause a lot of irritation when it comes in contact with your cat, especially if it touches its mouth.
Additionally, the crystals can also irritate the lining of the cat’s stomach upon ingestion. These crystals are found mainly in all parts of the plant, including its sap.
While the plant is toxic to cats, the effect is rarely severe and only leaves an unpleasant sensation on the cat’s mouth along with some gastric upset if ingested.
What Does Monestra Do to Cats?
If a cat bites or ingests any part of the Monstera plant, it will show noticeable symptoms that can help you identify the problem.
For starters, your cat will try to paw its face or mouth to remove the irritation or crystals from its oral cavity.
Some cats may react to the irritation differently, displaying symptoms like drooling, meowing, loss of appetite, vomiting, etc.
You may also notice that your cat’s mouth and lips are slightly red and swollen.
Upon further inspection of their mouth, you’ll notice that their tongue is also red, swollen, and has pieces of the plant stuck there.
Can a Monstera Kill a Cat?
Unless your cat eats a huge amount of the plant, it shouldn’t be in any life-threatening condition; you don’t have to worry about it.
With that being said, a Monstera might end up causing a serious health risk if the plant causes swelling of the cat’s throat, blocking the airways and causing suffocation.
What to Do If Your Cat Bites a Monstera
As previously established, your cat isn’t in real danger if it bites or eats any parts of the plant, so you don’t have to worry about complications!
After all, the plant doesn’t have real toxins that will reach the cat’s bloodstream and cause serious health issues, especially for healthy cats.
In most cases, the irritation caused by the plant should last anywhere between 24 to 48 hours and go away on its own. In some rare cases, the symptoms can be mild but last up to 2 weeks.
Check the Cat for Any Serious Reactions
Now that you know that your cat is safe, you should rule out any serious reactions by visual inspection:
- Check the cat’s mouth, and see if there’s any redness or swelling on its tongue or lips
- Observe the cat for the next few hours and note any changes in behavior
If you don’t see signs of heavy irritation or discomfort, you probably don’t need to do anything.
Offer Something to Soothe the Cat’s Pain
If your cat shows signs of irritation like redness and swelling of lips, you might want to offer them some water or milk to wash off the tiny crystals.
Also, if you have some cat painkillers or soothing medication, you can use them to relieve some of the pain. You can also consult your vet about a suitable treatment to soothe the irritation.
Contact the Vet or Animal Poison Control
If your cat is showing signs of worsening irritation or the situation isn’t improving with time, you may want to see the cat’s vet immediately or seek help from animal poison control.
Again, you should rememeber that serious reactions from Monstera are very rare, so you don’t have to worry about it if your cat is generally healthy.
Trim off the Damaged Monstera Leaves
As for the Monstera plant, unfortunately, the damaged leaves will not grow back, or recover on their own.
For that reason, you might want to trim any heavily maimed leaves to allow the plant to grow new ones instead. Other than that, the plant should be fine.
Is Monstera Toxic to Other Pets?
According to the previously mentioned report by ASPCA, Monstera plants are also toxic to other pets and animals, such as dogs and horses.
The effect of Monstera on most animals is similar to cats. In other words, contact with the plant’s sap, biting, or ingesting any parts of the plant will cause redness and swelling around and inside their mouths.
Is Monstera Toxic to Humans?
In addition to pets, humans are also prone to Monstera toxicity due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals.
However, the plant is classified as mildly toxic to humans unless ingested. Calcium oxalate crystals found in Monstera are similar in composition to kidney stones.
Touching Monstera leaves with our bare hands leaves needle-shaped crystals on our skin, which causes irritation, itching, and redness.
Ingesting the leaves of monestra can also cause oral irritation as well as abdominal cramps and discomfort.
Can Monstera Cause Allergies?
Technically speaking, monestra and other types of arum family plants don’t contain allergens that cause allergic reactions.
However, Calcium oxalate crystals can cause redness or swelling when it comes in contact with the skin.
For that reason, people with hypersensitive skin might have some allergic reactions after coming in contact with the plant.
With that being said, the plant doesn’t produce airborne particles that may cause asthma or shortness of breath, whether for humans or pets.
How to Keep Both Monstera and Cats Safe in the Same House
Now that you know more about Monstera and its effects on cats, you might be wondering how to keep both of them safe.
As you can see, most cats that have tried biting or ingesting Monstera plants will learn to avoid it later on.
However, if your cat keeps returning to the plant, this section will walk you through some tips to help you keep them apart and safe:
1 – Train Your Cat to Stay Away from the Plant
While most casts will simply ignore the plant after a painful incident, some might be a little more stubborn.
Luckily, you can treat your cat to stay away from the plant by associating the plant with more unpleasant things.
For example, if the cat starts hanging around the plant again, you can spray clean water on your kitty.
2 – Keep the Plant Out of Reach
One of the easiest ways to keep your plant safe and your cat healthy is to move it out of the way. Yet, this is easier said than done.
While this method works very well with dogs, cats are far more curious and capable of reaching hard spots.
Luckily, Monestras work very well with hanging baskets and you can put them above unreachable high shelves.
3 – Plant the Monstera Outside Whenever Possible
If you live in an area where the temperatures outside are fairly warm (especially in summer), you might want to plant the Monstera there.
Suitable outdoor conditions will also benefit the plant and make it a lot healthier but make sure that the plant gets indirect light to avoid scorching the leaves.
4 – Invest in Cat Toys and Scratching Bars
Many cats will only mess around with plants when they’re bored and lacking stimulation.
If you play with your cat occasionally and provide them with enough toys, they will be distracted from the plant.
Investing in scratch bars is also a good way to protect your house furniture and carpets from damage.
5 – Plant a Cat Repellent Citrus Fruit Near the Monstera
Cats hate the smell of citrus fruits and will avoid them whenever possible. You can utilize that by spraying some citronella essential oils are the plant.
Even better, you can try to grow the plant nearby to provide a continuous supply of the citrusy scent.
6 – Replace the Monstera with a Cat-Safe Plant
If you’re not too attached to your monestra plant and you don’t mind switching it up with another safer alternative, there are plenty of great choices to pick from.
These plants include Echeveria, Money tree, Haworthia, Peperomia, Cast iron plant, Prayer plant, African violet, Boston Fern, and more.
This wraps up today’s brief guide that walks you through everything you need to know about Monstera toxicity and cats.
As you can see, Monstera is somewhat toxic to cats and can cause some redness and swelling in cats’ mouths after biting any part of the plant.
Luckily, the toxicity of the plant is fairly mild and usually goes away on its own within a couple of days.
Yet, you should always monitor your cat closely following the incident to make sure that it’s not suffering from throat swelling.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.