When you’re both a plant and a pet parent, you have to worry about what you bring into your house. Sometimes dogs, and especially cats will nibble on your precious plants when they get a craving for fresh greens.
You don’t want any harm to come to either your plants or your fur babies, but that Monstera plant would look so good in your living room. Before you purchase it though, you need to be sure it’s safe for your pets.
Unfortunately, Monstera plants can be toxic to cats. They’re also toxic to dogs and humans as well.
The question now becomes, how dangerous is the plant to have around? Is there a way both plants and cats can live harmoniously, or should this plant be completely avoided?
In this article, we’ll answer all of those questions and more. We’ll give you helpful hints at how kitties and plants can live in harmony together. You can even enjoy having a big, tropical looking Monstera plant without worrying about potential harm that could befall your cat.
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Why Do Cats Eat Plants?
Cats are supposed to be carnivores. They feed on mice, birds, insects, and other small animals in the wild. Even in the pet store, cat food flavors include chicken, fish, turkey, beef, and more meat varieties.
Why then, do some house cats seem to love munching on greens? While there seem to be several possible theories, the main reasons are that these cats either like the taste, or they need something the plants offer as far as nutrition.
Plant matter can help with their digestion or aid in passing hairballs. In the wild, cats eat more live animals such as rodents, rabbits, and other small herbivores. When cats consume these animals they are getting some plant matter from the stomach contents of the smaller creature.
It may be that your housecat is lacking some trace minerals that aren’t included in their food. They will go after plants to fill this void.
Other reasons your cat is making salads out of your houseplants could include boredom, a way to relieve stress, or they are attracted to the movement of the plant and naturally start munching on it.
Will Monstera Plants Harm My Cats?
Each individual case is different, but for the most part, this plant isn’t very dangerous to your beloved pets. A great majority of the time, when a cat starts to nibble on a Monstera plant, it will quit and leave it alone promptly.
Monstera plants are not poisonous. They really aren’t very toxic, unless a large portion of the plant is consumed.
The harmful substance in Monstera plants is calcium oxalate crystals. This is the same substance that forms kidney stones. These crystals are also present in foods that we eat on a regular basis such as broccoli and spinach.
Monstera plants have large amounts of these calcium oxalate crystals, which are extremely irritating to sensitive mouth tissues, and mucus membranes. These crystals have microscopic points, sharp edges, and even barbs that can abrade soft tissues.
About Calcium Oxalate Crystals
When your kitty takes a bite from a Monstera plant, these tiny crystals will likely irritate its mouth, throat, and possibly stomach lining. It could be quite painful and should deter your cat from taking more than one or two bites.
Symptoms of consuming these crystals include drooling, your cat pawing at its mouth, shaking its head, or vomiting. Your cat may lose his or her appetite for a few days as their mouth heals the tiny micro cuts.
On rare occasions, swelling of the mouth, tongue, lips, or throat could occur. If you see any swelling in the mouth or throat area, you should get your kitty to the vet as quickly as possible to prevent airflow restriction.
All Monstera plants contain calcium oxalate crystals in every part of the plant. The leaves, stems, roots, and aerial roots contain elevated levels of these crystals.
Even the unripe fruits contain high levels. As they ripen, the levels are reduced dramatically, though not all of the subspecies’ fruits are considered safe for consumption when they’re fully ripe.
These plants have those sharp little crystals to protect them from herbivores. Much like cactus have sharp spines on the outside, the Monstera protect themselves from the inside.
What Happens If My Cat Eats A Lot Of Monstera?
While this is exceptionally rare, it can happen. Most times, all it takes is a bite or two for severe pain and irritation to set in. This is enough to keep cats from going back for seconds, but there can always be an exception.
It would take a large amount of calcium oxalate crystals to severely harm, or kill your cat. In large amounts, they could cause kidney problems, and eventually failure, but this is very rare. The burning sensation in the mouth is enough to discourage most animals.
Regardless, if your cat has consumed some part of a Monstera plant, seek veterinarian advice immediately just to be safe. You can also call the Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4436. Be aware that there may be a consultation fee for calling this number.
Immediately washing your cat’s mouth, face, and paws with clean water may lessen the irritation and swelling before you get to the vet.
The Cat Is Okay, Will My Monstera Survive?
So your little curious kitty snacked on your Monstera. After a bit of shock, some worry, and a few frantic phone calls you find out that your furry baby is going to be just fine. Now how about that ragged looking Monstera, will it be alright?
Though they are tropical plants, Monsteras are pretty hardy. Overwatering is usually the biggest problem these plants have trouble bouncing back from.
If your pets have damaged your Monstera, they should be able to come back with just a little bit of care. The most pressing thing you should do is snip off the damaged part of the plant.
Assuming only one or two leaves were damaged, just use a clean, sharp pair of plant shears or scissors and snip off the leaves near the stem and discard it. Your Monstera should be able to weather this little bit of trimming without a hitch.
How To Live In Harmony With Cats And Monsteras
Obviously, keeping your four-legged family members away from these plants is the best way to prevent problems. But cats have a way of getting everywhere you don’t want them to. They can jump nearly anywhere you place your plants, and are exceptionally curious about their world.
Simply placing your plants out of reach isn’t always that straightforward when you have felines.
By utilizing multiple methods of limited access, repellants, and distractions, your cats and Monsteras can coexist together happily and safely.
Young, or smaller varieties of Monstera plants can be placed in hanging baskets. This may be one way to keep plants out of your cat’s reach.
If there are shelves high enough that your cats can’t reach, place them up out of the way, place barriers like gates, or implement other ways to keep cats out.
A sheet of aluminum foil placed strategically can keep most cats away. The sound it makes and the reflection is usually enough to deter most kitties.
If you have the rooms or space, close off the rooms where you have your plants to keep the kitties from messing with them. Be sure to remove any fallen leaves or other plant debris to keep curious cats from munching.
Employ Some Deterrents
Is your cat terrified of the vacuum cleaner? Place it near your Monstera plant. This may be enough to keep kitty far away.
Use a spray bottle and shoot a jet of water at your cat whenever it gets too close to the plant. The sudden jolt of wetness will have your cat scurrying away really fast. Eventually, he or she will begin to associate the plant with the uncomfortable spritz of water and stay away.
Repellants are another way to keep cats away from plants. Many cats hate the smell of citrus or spicy peppers. Use some citrus essential oils and either place a few drops in a very small container and place it in the plant, or wipe the rim of the pot in essential oil.
You can also place hot pepper flakes or lemon, grapefruit, or orange peels directly on top of the soil. Another way to deter curious cats is to plant some rosemary with your Monstera plant. Cats tend to dislike the smell of this herb and usually avoid it.
Sometimes cats just want to dig around in the dirt. While this doesn’t harm the plant too much, and won’t hurt the cat, it can make a mess. Especially if they knock the pot to the ground.
If you’re having this problem, placing some mulch or rocks around the soil should stop this behavior.
Keep Your Cat Distracted
An engaged, stimulated cat won’t mess with your plants just because they are frustrated or bored. Keep your feline friends distracted with plenty of toys and activities and they won’t have time to think about digging in your plants or trying to munch on them.
Providing cat tunnels, places for them to climb, and interactive toys full of movement will chase away boredom. You can also put some toys away for a while and reintroduce them in a rotation to keep things “fresh.”
Keep Some Alternative Plants Around
You may have to just give in and give your cats some safe plants that they can feed on when they need some roughage. There are plenty of easy to care for plants that cats can eat with no side effects.
Giving them plants of their own will lessen the desire to bother your Monstera plants. Be sure to place them somewhere they are easily accessible. Maybe place them near their food and water.
There are many cat-safe plants out there that your fur baby can snack on as they please. Some include:
- Wheat grass or cat grass
- Spider plants
- Boston ferns
- Majesty palms
- Ponytail palms
- Lemon balm
- Rattlesnake plants
- Bird’s nest ferns
- Parlor palms
- Polka dot plants
- Money trees
- Cast iron plants
- Prayer plants
All of these plants are safe for cats to consume. Having a few of these within easy reach may deter them from trying to get into other plants around the house.
You may have to mix and match different distractions, deterrents, and barriers in order to find out what works best to keep Fluffy out of the Monstera. Be sure to stay consistent and eventually, your kitty will decide the plant just isn’t worth all the work involved.
Is Monstera poisonous to touch?
No, Monstera plants are not poisonous to the touch. But if you are pruning them, or some of the sap gets on your exposed skin, the sharp calcium oxalate crystals could cause minor irritation and possibly some pain. Wearing gloves, and washing any areas that got sap on them can prevent this.
Will my cat die if it eats some Monstera plant?
Your cat would have to consume a lot of the plant for it to cause death to your pet. And even if it did, death is very rare. Usually after one or two bites, the cat gets enough pain and irritation it won’t try again. If your cat has consumed some or part of a Monstera plant, it’s best to contact the vet to answer your questions and make sure your cat is treated correctly.
The Monstera Deliciosa plant is an amazing and beautiful house plant, but when you have plants and cats, sometimes they don’t mix so well. You can make it happen though if you are willing to step up to the challenge.
Try keeping plants and cats in separate rooms if that’s possible. If your cats still find clever ways up to them no matter how high you place them, try different deterrents. There are a lot of scents that cats don’t like that you can use to keep them away.
You can also try aluminum foil, a spray bottle of water, or keeping them entertained with high value toys. The key is to not give up. You may have to try different and multiple methods, but it can be done.
Finally, if the Monstera plant seems too difficult to keep or you don’t feel like fighting your cats, there are plenty of cat-friendly plants you can keep indoors with no worries.
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