Toxic plants

Is Split Leaf Philodendron Toxic To Cats

by Clair Chesterman
Is Split Leaf Philodendron Toxic to Cats

Cats can be poisoned by split-leaf philodendron, also known as saddle leaf philodendron. Like other Philodendron species plants, it has calcium oxalate crystals that are insoluble. Chewing or biting on this plant releases these crystals, causing tissue penetration and GI tract discomfort.

What is Split Leaf Philodendron?

Split Leaf Philodendron and a cat nearby

Split-leaf philodendron (Monstera deliciosa), often known as the Swiss cheese plant or window leaf, is a tropical plant found in Central American rainforests from southern Mexico to Panama. It is commonly planted as a foliage houseplant. It features glossy, heart-shaped, or spherical leathery leaves with deep clefts and oblong perforations that become deeper as they age. On foot-long leafstalks, the leaves can be as wide as 18 inches wide. In nature, this plant is an evergreen liana, a trailing or ascending epiphytic vine that reaches high into the rainforest canopy. It can reach a maximum height of 70 feet and rarely branches. 

Clinical Signs of Split Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Cats

Split Leaf Philodendron and cats

The following split-leaf philodendron poisoning symptoms may persist for up to two weeks after digestion:

  • Intense burning sensation in the mouth, throat, lips, and tongue;
  • excessive drooling, choking, and throat swelling
  • swallowing difficulty or incapacity (dysphagia)

Ingestion of greater amounts can cause: 

  • severe digestive upset
  • extreme difficulty breathing
  • rapid shallow gasps (dyspnea)

First Aid and Treatment of Split Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Cats

Cat sits near Split Leaf Philodendron

Your veterinarian may recommend plain yogurt for your cat. This allows your cat to begin to feel relief from the burning agony caused by the crystals embedded in his or her lips and face. Your veterinarian may give your cat intravenous fluid to help her rehydrate if she has had a lot of diarrhea and vomiting.

An antihistamine can help with any edema caused by the plant’s toxins. Kapectolin, which covers and protects the stomach lining, may be prescribed by your veterinarian for stomach distress. Sucralfate, which reacts with your cat’s stomach acids to produce a protective paste in her stomach, may also be given to her. If your cat has trouble breathing due to airway swelling, she will be observed until she is able to breathe normally again.

Recovery from Split Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Cats

The prognosis is good, and the symptoms normally disappear within 24 hours with no long-term repercussions. A full blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis can identify any concomitant diseases or disorders. Gastroprotective drugs may be prescribed for your cat to preserve the stomach lining. If your cat’s airway has enlarged sufficiently, he or she should be kept in the veterinary office for observation until the swelling goes down.

Prevention of Split Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Cats

It’s preferable if you can find a high enough position for the plant to keep it away from your cats. Use floating pots, hooks, or floating shelves to keep the philodendron at bay. If you plan to leave the house for an extended amount of time, put your cat in a different room from the plant. This will keep the cat and the plant to be secure from each other. 

If you love plants but have cats at home, check out these lists:

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