Is Mini Monstera Toxic to Cats?

Is mini monstera toxic to cats?

Mini monstera (Rhaphidophora tetrasperma) is toxic to cats, the toxic principle is insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that penetrate the oropharynx causing intense pain and burning. These needle-sharp crystals are formed in the vacuoles of specialized cells called crystal idioblasts and are found within the tissue of the plant where they form in clusters known as raphides. Calcium oxalate crystals serve as a defence mechanism against herbivory.

What is mini monstera?

  • Family: Araceae
  • Botanical name: Rhaphidophora tetrasperma
  • Common names: Mini monstera, Amydrium gennie, Split-leafed tropical wonder, Monstera Ginny, Philodendron Ginny, Philodendron piccolo
  • Toxicity: Toxic to cats
  • Toxic parts: All
  • Severity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic principle: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals

Mini monstera is a small vine native to southern Thailand and Malaysia popular as a houseplant for its unique fenestrated leaves (leaves with holes or penetrations) and ease of care.

The plant is similar in appearance to the more widely known Swiss cheese plant (Monstera delicosa), and the common names Monstera Ginny, Philodendron Ginny and Philodendron piccolo are misleading. Mini monstera (R. tetrasperma) is not a Monstera or a Philodendron, although all three species members of the Araceae family. Rhaphidophora tetrasperma belongs to the Rhaphidophora family, however, the toxic principles are the same for all three species.

Clinical signs

  • Intense oral pain
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Edema (swelling) of the mouth, tongue and lips
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing due to inflammation and swelling (rare)

First aid

Remove any remaining plant material from the mouth and offer the cat a drink of milk, canned tuna or chicken broth to help flush the oropharynx.

Call the veterinarian or a pet poison helpline for advice. A wait and see approach will usually be recommended if the cat is not displaying signs of swelling or breathing difficulty. If the cat is experiencing breathing difficulty, immediate medical care is critical.

Treatment

There is no antidote for mini monstera ingestion and treatment is aimed at managing clinical signs. This may include intravenous fluids to correct dehydration and electrolyte derangements if the cat has been vomiting and analgesics to manage pain.