If you are thinking of getting a Monstera plant, then there are some very important things to consider, and its potential toxicity is high on the list. You need to know whether it is safe to grow, both for you and for your pets.
Monstera plants are toxic, and while eating a small quantity of the plant’s leaves may not prove particularly harmful, it is not safe to consume this plant. If you have young children or pets that like to nibble on foliage, you should avoid growing Monstera plants, or keep them well away from pets and children. Eaten in quantity, they could do serious harm.
Are Monstera Plants Toxic?
Yes, Monstera plants are toxic, unfortunately. Despite how beautiful and popular these plants are, it is important to be aware that they pose a potential threat to you and your animals.
If you choose to grow them, you need to treat them with caution and not let your pets or any young children get too close to them.
Failing to do this could result in harm to your pets or children. It is also a good idea to thoroughly wash your hands after touching or moving or pruning your Monstera plant, ensuring that any toxins have been washed off your skin and are not at risk of being transferred to your mouth.
While they do not irritate the skin, they still should be treated with care. They are more seriously toxic to cats and dogs than to people, so if you have furry friends, be even more vigilant about keeping these plants out of the way.
Are Monstera Plants Toxic To Cats?
They are, yes. Cats should not be allowed to eat Monstera plants, and if you have a cat that takes an interest in biting and chewing your plants, you should not buy a Monstera plant. The large, springy leaves may attract the interest of a playful feline and could be dangerous to it.
Most cats will quickly stop biting a Monstera because it will sting the inside of the mouth, but in theory, a Monstera could be toxic if your cat continued to eat it.
It’s better to be safe rather than sorry, so if you don’t have a Monstera but you do have a cat, don’t buy the plant. However, if you already own both, you don’t have to get rid of the Monstera unless your cat shows a lot of interest in it.
If possible, move it somewhere out of your cat’s area and just keep an eye on things. Use a water pistol to keep your cat away. If your cat does seem to be set on chewing the leaves and you can’t block its access to the plant, you may have to get rid of your Monstera.
Are Monstera Plants Toxic To Dogs?
Yes, they are also toxic to dogs. If your dog regularly eats plants and is known for chewing on your houseplants, you should again take action to get the Monstera out of its reach if possible. However, Monstera plants are large, so this might prove tricky.
If you can, put the Monstera in a different room, or train your dog to stay away from it with a specific command. If this is not working, you may want to consider giving your Monstera away.
Are Monstera Plants Toxic To People?
The answer is once again yes, they are. This is not a big risk to adults, because most people don’t eat their houseplants. Even if someone did decide to sample their Monstera’s leaves out of curiosity, they would very quickly stop when they felt their mouth stinging and burning.
Children, however, might not. Although most children will respond to pain by stopping their current action, some might not make the connection, or might not realize that the leaves are causing it.
If you have a child who is interested in putting things in their mouth, it’s a good idea to put your Monstera somewhere out of their play zone. Lifting it up onto a table out of reach may also work, or moving it into another room might do the trick.
Don’t leave your Monstera where they can grab the leaves. Although Monstera plants are only mildly toxic to people and your child would probably be fine even if they did consume some of the plant, it is better not to take the risk.
Instead, keep the plant out of the way and once your child is old enough to understand, teach them to stay away from it. Even if they don’t actively eat the leaves, you don’t want them to handle the plant and then put their fingers in their mouth.
This would only transfer a small amount of toxicity at the most, but it could still be an unpleasant experience for the little one and is best avoided if possible.
Are Monstera Plants Toxic To Touch?
We’ve talked about consumption, but what about handling the plants?
Fortunately, Monstera plants are not toxic if you just brush against them. They won’t cause any skin irritation, and should not do so even if you are pruning them and getting the sap into contact with your skin.
It is a good idea to wash your hands thoroughly to reduce the risk of transferring any of the sap to your mouth, but you should not suffer any problems just from handling your Monstera.
Likewise, if your cat or dog brushes against the plant or even rubs up against it, you don’t need to worry. You should check that they are not trying to eat it at the same time, or that rubbing doesn’t progress to eating, but otherwise, it should be fine.
What Makes Monstera Plants Toxic?
So, these plants are toxic to cats, dogs, and people – which may surprise you, since they look so unobtrusive. You might be wondering what makes them toxic.
They unfortunately produce a substance called calcium oxalates, which cause a reaction when consumed. If your pet eats a part of your Monstera, this substance will react with its saliva and will sting its mouth.
Hopefully, a cat, dog, or small child will then stop trying to eat the plant, and no further harm will be done. However, if the plant is consumed in large quantities, the mouth will start to swell in response to the chemical.
This can be both painful and dangerous, because it will restrict the person/pet’s ability to breathe, and could, in some rare cases, be fatal. Sometimes, the crystals will cause numbness of the lips and tongue, making it hard for a child to speak. They may make your child or pet drool excessively.
Calcium oxalate poisoning can also lead to diarrhea, stomach ache, gastrointestinal problems, nausea, and vomiting. If you notice any of these in relation to your cat, dog, or child, call for medical assistance and check whether they have been eating your Monstera plant.
Are Monstera Plants More Dangerous To Cats Or To Dogs?
The level of toxicity that Monstera plants present may be about the same for these two animals (although cats, being smaller on the whole, may get symptoms from a smaller quantity). However, it is more likely that a dog will try to eat the plant than a cat.
Obviously, this depends heavily on the individual pets involved, but many cats like plants with long, trailing tendrils that they can bat and bite at. They might go for a spider plant or a string of hearts, but they aren’t very likely to be interested in your Monstera, because its leaves are big and do not mimic prey in any way.
Dogs, on the other hand, will eat things just because they are interested in them or think that they smell good. Often, dogs eat vegetation when they want to settle their stomachs, so if your dog has consumed something that didn’t agree with it, your houseplants may be in danger.
Both pets should back off once they feel the stinging sensation in their mouths, but on the whole, Monstera plants probably pose a slightly greater danger to dogs, simply because dogs are more likely to try and eat them.
How Concerned Do I Need To Be?
If you already have a Monstera plant, you might be wondering how worried about the whole thing you should be. How likely is your dog/cat/child to take a bite of your Monstera?
Unless you have a determined and dedicated chewer, you probably don’t need to worry too much. A single bite of the plant won’t hurt your pet or child (unless they have an allergic reaction), and it should be sufficient to deter them from taking a second. However, do err on the side of caution to prevent accidents!
Monstera plants are mildly toxic to cats, dogs, and humans, and if you have pets or young children, you may wish to put your Monstera somewhere unobtrusive so that it does not present a tempting target for nibbling. However, these aren’t considered particularly dangerous houseplants overall.