Monstera Toxicity: How to Keep Your Pets Safe

The Monstera, a popular houseplant from the aroid group, is often found in the lower regions of Central and South America. As a member of the Araceae family, it can grow to a height of 6-8 feet. However, its potential toxicity raises concerns among many plant enthusiasts who have pets and children at home.

The ASPCA listed the genus Monstera as toxic. It can be dangerous to babies and small animals because most plant-like stems, leaves, and roots contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause mild irritation to severe reactions.

Even though Monstera is not fatal, it can irritate your pets and babies. Thus, looking out for any symptoms in your pets, such as excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, or general discomfort, is essential.

But before your drop the idea of growing a Monstera plant in your home, here are a few things that you should know:

Monstera Toxicity on Humans

We know this would come as heart-breaking news to someone planning on growing the Monstera plant and a proud parent to a toddler, but the plant is toxic to humans when consumed.

brown furry cat behind a monstera plant

However, the reaction is immediate, which means one would not continue consuming the plant once the symptoms kick in. But it is difficult to say that a toddler would stop eating the plant once it tingles in their mouth.

One should not panic as a kid would have to consume a sizeable chunk of the plant to do some damage. However, one should keep the plant out of the reach of children.

Is the Entire Monstera Plant Toxic?

Parts of the Monstera plant are toxic and should not be consumed. But the plant still offers a delicious fruit that is edible and safe to eat.

However, one should be sure that the fruit is not unripe as it may contain calcium oxalates which can sting your mouth and even cause kidney failure if consumed excessively.

That being said, a Monstera is unlikely to fruit as a houseplant as it requires a lot of sunlight. Thus, accidentally picking an unripe Monstera fruit is also quite rare.

leaves of monstera plant

What are Calcium Oxalate Crystals?

We have been talking about this element, but what is it? Calcium Oxalate crystals are microscopic, needle-shaped irritants found in the Monstera plant’s leaves, stems, and saps. While it can irritate when consumed, it is beneficial for the plant.

Calcium oxalate crystals help normalize tissue calcium and eliminate unnecessary minerals. Besides this, its most obvious function is protecting the plant from being eaten up.

While it is helpful for the plant, it can be dangerous for humans and animals. Calcium oxalate crystals can result in mild irritation or even more severe reactions depending on the kind of contact made with the element.

Here are a few things that one should know about calcium oxalate crystals:

  • Calcium oxalate crystals may cause kidney stones.
  • They are needle-shaped, called raphids, and sometimes may even have barbs, so they may irritate and cause pain.
  • Calcium oxalate crystals can also be found in some fruits and vegetables. Spinach, particularly, has high concentrations of the element.
  • Various houseplants contain enough concentrations of calcium oxalate crystals to irritate. Dieffenbachia is one of the most famous culprits, while Syngonium, Philodendron, and Alocasia are other plants on the list.

Symptoms To Watch in Pets

a dog and a monstera plant

Calcium oxalate crystals can result in a burning sensation around your pet’s lips or mouth. You may even notice that your pet is pawing at the mouth more frequently or may have oral swelling or drool excessively.

After ingesting the monstera plant, other common symptoms in pets are loss of appetite, vomiting, and upset stomach. However, these are the symptoms that you will only notice your pet has ingested the plant in large quantities, which is rare. But in this case, there is a risk of severe adverse reactions. So, be sure that you contact a veterinarian in this case immediately.

Symptoms To Watch in Children

If your infant ingests a Monstera plant, you may encounter symptoms like coughing, difficulty swallowing or breathing, or drooling. Your child may complain about pain in the throat as well.

Besides consuming the plant, skin contact with the Monstera sap can also lead to redness and rashes. Also, if the plant comes in contact with the eye, it may result in irritation or abrasions.

Preventative Methods (For Pets)

Given the perils of consuming a Monstera plant, you must keep the plant out of the reach of your pet. Here are a few ways in which you can prevent it from ingesting your Monstera plant:

Misting

misting a monstera plant

Spraying water on your Monstera plant effectively develops a boundary between the plant and your cat. It will ensure that your cat does not touch or try to nip off the leaves. However, this trick usually only applies to cats whenever you are home, or the cat is in front of you.

Use Citrus Peels or Repellent Spray

You can put some oranges or lemon peels around the Monstera pot to deter your feline friend from your plant. Cats do not like the pungent aroma of these citrus fruit peels, which can help drive them away from the plant.

A better alternative would be misting your plant with some citrus fruit essential oils or diluted fruit juices, which also fulfill the purpose. However, it would be best to use only an animal-friend option.

Creating an Unappealing Environment

You must figure out how to discourage your child or your pets from going near the plant. For instance, cats may find a space unpleasant if tin foils are lying around. So, placing tin foils around your Monstera plant might be helpful.

Since you would know your pet or your child in the best manner, you will be able to create a space around your Monstera plant that does not excite them.

Protect the Soil

As mentioned earlier, just brushing up against the plant can irritate the skin. Thus, ensuring that your pets and your children maintain a proper distance from the plant is essential.

Pets like loose potting soil as it allows them to dig it up. While digging the soil near the plant, they may also come into contact with it. To prevent this, you can cover up the soil with pebbles. Ensure your pets do not dig up the ground or disturb the plant.

Hanging Baskets

monstera plant in hanging basket

While you can protect your Monstera plant by keeping it high, cats can easily reach almost any spot. So, if you have a cat in your house, you should consider planting your Monstera plant in hanging baskets to ensure that your plant is away from furniture, windows, and even walls, ensuring that your cat does not get near the plant.

Get Another Pet-Friendly Plant

If your pets love green foliage, it is better to give them a safe plant for them. Here are many different houseplants you can grow in your home without any fears would not only provide them with something to play with but ensure that your pets remain distracted and maintain a distance from the Monstera plant.

For example, Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma (Mini Monstera), which is not a true monstera, contains calcium oxalate, which prevents animals from eating its leaves. However, if they eat it, calcium oxalate raphides can kill a cat.

Emergency Care

a vet checking a kitten

If your pet or child accidentally ate part of Monstera other than its fruit, you should not panic and carefully follow the following steps.

  • Rinse the mouth with water and spit. One mustn’t swallow the water as the main aim is to remove as much Calcium Oxalates out of the mouth as possible.
  • Your pet or child may experience some symptoms, such as discomfort, pain, irritation, and a sore throat or mouth. One should try sucking on iced chips or eating cold food, such as ice cream, as it may ease the symptoms.
  • One should consume fluids. However, if the affected person has trouble breathing or swallowing and cannot take any fluids, it should not be forced on them.
  • If your child or pet’s skin has come in contact with the Monstera sap, washing the affected area with soap is suggested.
  • If the plant has come in contact with the eye, use water or a gentle eye drop to rinse.

If your child or pet is still in pain or discomfort, you should seek medical assistance immediately. They might administer a painkiller and offer additional treatment.

Note: Usually, there is nothing to worry about, and things only get serious if your pet or child has ingested a significant amount of the plant. While signs of pain and irritation are common after a bite, the only sign of danger is if an uncommon swelling reaction occurs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my cat fascinated with my Monstera plant?

Cats have an innately curious nature and love playing with different plants around them. Not to mention, Monstera is one of the most beautiful plants out there. With its glossy, lush, and massive foliage, cats and even dogs are often tempted to have a closer look and touch the plant.

Who is safe from the Monstera plant?

No toxicity to birds, horses, and livestock from the Monstera plant has been reported. Also, there has been no reported toxicity to adult humans besides plants’ infants and toddlers.

Why is Monstera a popular houseplant despite being toxic?

Monstera is one of the most aesthetic plants, making it a much sought-after houseplant despite being toxic. However, having a Monstera plant is relatively harmless if you do not have kids or own pets.

Do Monstera plants like heat?

They generally don’t bloom indoors, but they will produce edible fruit that tastes like a fruit salad in its natural environment. As a tropical plant, it’s no surprise that your Monstera likes warm indoor temperatures between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and a little humidity makes them feel right at home, too.

How do you fertilize Monstera?

Liquid fertilizer is the most popular and preferred way of fertilizing Monstera deliciosa plants. It is recommended to use a 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer for this plant. Get half a teaspoon of the 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer as close as possible and dilute it in about a gallon of water.

Conclusion

I hope this information will help you clearly understand Monstera toxicity. And if you are still concerned about your pet child, it is best to omit the idea of growing a Monstera plant in your home.

And if you think that you will be able to monitor your child or your pet properly, you should go for this stunning-looking houseplant. Here is a blog highlighting some popular and aesthetic-looking monstera varieties to help you pick the right one for your home.

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