Monstera are toxic to cats, dogs, other pets, or even humans. This cuts across all Monstera species, including the famous Swiss cheese plant (M. deliciosa, M. adansonii, or Monstera obliqua), notes ASPCA.
Learn why they are toxic, symptoms your pets may show, and ways to prevent your dogs or cuts from chewing your Monstera or other poisonous houseplants. We will also give you some pet-safe plant alternatives to consider.
- About Monstera spp.
- Why are Monstera toxic to cats, dogs, other pets?
- Signs of monstera plants toxicity
- What to do
- How to stop your pets from chewing your Monstera?
- 1. Limit place access
- 2. Grow pet-friendly plants
- 3. Discourage eating
- 4. Train your pets
- 5. Give them alternative safe plants
- 6. Have their health checked
- Are they toxic to humans too?
About Monstera spp.
- Species: Monstera spp.
- Genus: Monstera
- Family: Araceae or arum family (aroids)
- Native habitat: Tropical America and surrounding islands
It’s no doubt that these plants, especially Monstera deliciosa (Split-leaf philodendron) and Monstera adansonii, are popular houseplants in North America. Up until now, about 45 Monstera species have been accepted.
They have adorable juvenile leaves that are entire and large fenestrated mature leaves, some pinnatifid, except Monstera Peru. Also, they are easy to care for and air purifying. Even first-time plant owners will find them a breeze.
Why are Monstera toxic to cats, dogs, other pets?
Monstera are toxic to cats, dogs, and other pets because they have insoluble sharp or needle-like oxalate crystals, i.e., insoluble calcium oxalate known as raphides. When chewed or ingested, they will embed on mucous causing severe irritation, burning feeling on lips, tongue, mouth, or throat.
All parts of the Monstera plant, i.e., leaves, fruits, stems, roots, or flowers, are toxic or poisonous. And this cuts across all the 45 species, meaning even M. adansonii, Split-leaf philodendron or Monstera deliciosa are toxic to cats, dogs, and other pets.
We know fully ripened Monstera deliciosa fruits are edible, i.e., not toxic. But don’t give them to your cat or dogs as they may not be the healthiest choice.
Besides Monstera, most of the other houseplants from the Araceae family also have insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. These plants include:
- Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia spp.)
- Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema)
- Peace lily (Spathiphyllum spp.)
- Calla lily
- Giant Taro (Alocasia antiquorum)
- Flamingo Flower (Anthurium spp.)
- Elephant ears (Caladium spp.)
However, the severity of the symptoms varies from one plant to another because the concentration of these crystals varies. For instance, the Dumb cane will cause more severe symptoms.
If you are already scared, it is good to know that Monstera plants are mildly toxic, i.e., not as toxic as azalea (Rhododendron spp.) or Vinca. Not even as Amaryllis, sago palm, some lilies (Lilium sp.), Snake plant, etc. Nonetheless, they are toxic or harmful.
Lastly, in terms of severity, Monstera has level 3 or 4. Level 1 plants are usually very toxic and may cause severe illness or even death, while level 2 is lowly poisonous, resulting in vomiting and gastrointestinal issues.
Signs of monstera plants toxicity
If your cat or dog chews Monstera, some of the symptoms expected include the following:
- Severe oral irritation and a burning feeling on the mouth, lips, tongue, or throat
- Red and swollen lips, tongue, or mouth
- Swallowing difficulties
- Mouth pawing
- Stomach discomfort
Only on rare occasions can it result in a swollen throat and difficulties breathing. Also, intense stomach irritation is uncommon.
Besides chewing the plant, the juice from Monstera can cause mild skin irritation or contact dermatitis. So, always wear gloves when handling this plant.
What to do
If you suspect your dog or cat ate Monstera leaves or stems, check for any of the symptoms we have given you above. If you notice them, call your veterinary or Animal Poison Control Center via +1 (888) 426-4435. Also, you can call Pet Poison Helpline via +1 (855) 764-7661.
How to stop your pets from chewing your Monstera?
Now that you know Monstera is toxic to cats, you probably think of resolving the issue. Don’t worry. We got you covered.
1. Limit place access
If your pets are vivacious plant chewers, you need to limit access by growing them in a lockable room that your dog or cat doesn’t access. Just ensure it is bright enough and provide the necessary growth conditions.
The other way to limit access is caging your plants. An enclosed glass vivarium or greenhouse cabinet will work best as your plants will still be visible, and it will be appealing.
If you only have dogs, it is much easier to limit their access. You can hand your Monstera or put it where they cannot access it, including on high cabinet tops or desks.
2. Grow pet-friendly plants
When buying houseplants and having a cat or dog fond of nibbling your houseplant, you should consider having pet-safe plants. You can miss a charming one.
Some of the cat and dog safe plants include:
- All true palms (Arecaceae) like Chinese Fan palm, Areca palm, Majestic, Cascade, Parlor, and Ponytail palms.
- Succulents like Echeveria, Haworthia, Hens and Chicks. Sedum, Graptoveria, lithops, Opuntia, among many others.
- All peperomias species like Rainbow, Watermelon, baby rubber plant, trailing jade, Jelly, Teardrop, Emerald ripple, Rosso, String of Turtles, Ruby, Frost, Hope or Ruby Cascade.
- Calatheas like Pinstripe, rose painted, Freddie, Zebra plant, White fusion, Peacock plant, etc.
- Asparagus fern
- African violets
- Spider plants
- Cast-iron plant
- Baby tears
- Aluminum plant
- Prayer plants
The list of cat or dog-safe, lovely houseplants is endless. We bet you cannot miss an eye-catching pet-safe plant.
3. Discourage eating
Both dogs and cats don’t like the smell of citrus fruits. So, you can spray it on your plants to deter chewing. We don’t promise that these pets won’t chew your plants, but it will discourage them.
Also, you can spray your plants with cayenne pepper as dogs and cats don’t like them too. Also, they don’t like the vinegar smell, among other scents. Just do your research and get what works best for you.
4. Train your pets
Cats and dogs are trainable if you are patient and know how to do it. If you are busy, you can enlist the help of a professional to help you train these pets not to eat houseplants. If they learn to use their littler boxes, why not teach them not to eat plants too?
5. Give them alternative safe plants
The other way to prevent your pets from eating toxic or poisonous houseplants is by giving them alternative safe ones they like. For instance, dogs are fond of nibbling basil, dill, fennel, thyme, lemongrass, grass, and so on. Why not give them these plants instead?
On the other hand, cats may nibble catnip, cat thyme, rosemary, zinnias, marigolds, wheatgrass, etc. Consider giving them these safe plants. Alternatively, you can buy cat grass.
6. Have their health checked
Overeating greenery isn’t suitable for dogs and cats. They may cause indigestion. Also, this may indicate that something isn’t right with their health. So, if your dog or cat seems obsessed with plant-eating, you should talk to your vet. It may be hairballs, dietary deficiency, stress, or your pet is unwell.
Are they toxic to humans too?
Yes. Monstera is also toxic to humans too because of their sharp insoluble crystals. If chewed, cause signs similar to those we have seen. But fully ripened fruits of only Monstera deliciosa or split-leaf philodendron are not toxic, and you can eat them.
Signs to expect include oral irritation and burning sensation, swollen and mouth lips or tongue, drooling, reduced appetite difficulties in swallowing. Also, some people may find it hard to speak, and their throats may also swell.
Don’t hesitate if your kid ate a Monstera and has some of the symptoms above. Call Poison Control Center via +1 (800) 222-1222 for further help.
Only Monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant, ceriman) has edible fruits when fully ripe. The rest of the fruits are toxic and shouldn’t be eaten.