Pet owners tend to notice even the slightest change in their pet’s appearance or behavior. These things can give us valuable insight into their health and wellbeing.
If you’ve noticed some tiny black spots on your kitty’s mouth, you will be wondering What could they possibly mean?
Let me put it out there right away – there is absolutely no need to be worried! Black spots on your kitty’s mouth are probably a case of lentigo simplex.
Although it might sound scary, it is definitely not – lentigo simplex in cats is a harmless condition otherwise known as feline freckles!
Cats with freckles are adorable (I think we all can agree on this) and if you want to learn more about black spots on cats mouth including
whether black spots are always 100% harmless – then I suggest you read on!
Black Spots On Cats Mouth: An Intro Into Cat Freckles (aka Lentigo Simplex)
Did you know that cats can have freckles?
Lentigo simplex is the medical term for a skin condition characterized by tiny patches of skin containing an increased number of pigment-producing cells named epidermal melanocytes.
The presence of a larger number of pigment-producing cells means these spots have dark coloration (mostly brown or black).
So, if you notice black spots on your cat’s mouth – it simply means those areas have a larger-than-usual number of epidermal melanocytes!
Lentigo simplex occurs in both cats and humans and it is non-cancerous. However, its appearance does resemble cancerous lesions, which might cause some cat owners to worry.
Further below in this article, we will explore the difference between lentigo and melanoma.
What Is Lentigo In Cats?
For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to lentigo simplex as lentigo or freckles..
Lentigo, aka cat freckles are completely harmless lesions (areas of slightly altered tissue) that arise due to an increased number of melanin-producing cells.
Melanin is a dark brown to black pigment, which is produced by cells named epidermal melanocytes.
If one area of skin contains a larger number of these pigment-producing cells – that area will naturally be darker than other areas.
Interestingly, cats with orange coats are more prone to developing these dark spots known as cat freckles (more on this later!).
Where Can You See Cat Freckles Appear?
Cat freckles can appear:
🐾 On the cat’s nose
🐾 On the cat’s lips
🐾 On the cat’s gums (inside the cat’s mouth)
Rarely, you may even observe tiny freckles around the edges of the cat’s eyes, on the eyelids or even inside the ears.
In humans, freckles usually occur on areas of the skin which are exposed to sunlight.
However, this is not the case with freckles in cats. Lentigo in cats can appear in areas that are not exposed to sun, such as inside the cat’s mouth!
At first, these freckles appear as tiny dots, but it is possible for them to get bigger, possibly even merging with one another and forming a larger dark spot!
What Causes Lentigo In Cats?
If you see black spots on orange cat’s gums, you might be wondering what’s causing them.
The answer is: we don’t know!
The cause of lentigo in cats is not known, but we do know that it is not connected with sun exposure.
In humans, sun exposure induces freckle formation – but that is not the case with cats. This also explains why lentigo spots can be found inside a cat’s mouth, where there’s no sun exposure.
It is believed that lentigo is a genetic condition, meaning a gene or several genes are responsible for the appearance of freckles.
Which Cats Are More Prone To Developing Lentigo?
If you have noticed lentigo, I bet your cat is an orange cat. If you’ve noticed black spots inside your kitty’s mouth, and maybe even a few dots on their nose or lips – I’m pretty confident my guess is correct.
Okay, now you might be wondering why I made such a guess?! Well, it has been observed that specific types of cats are more prone to have lentigo:
🐾 Orange cats
🐾 Calico cats
🐾 Tortoiseshell cats
🐾 Flame point cats
Lentigo can occasionally be found in cream-colored and silver-colored cats, but it is less common.
I find orange cats quite an interesting group of cats – they have many unusual characteristics, such as that most orange cats are male.
Now, I have another thing to add to the list of interesting traits of orange cats – they are also more likely to have freckles than any other group of cats!
Suggested Read: 17 Orange Cat Breeds And Interesting Facts About Them
What Age Do Cat Freckles Appear?
It has been observed that freckles are more common in older cats than younger cats. However, younger cats can have them as well!
Cats as young as one year old can have lentigo, although middle aged and older cats are more likely to experience it.
Why Are Orange Cats More Prone To Developing Freckles?
As most cats with lentigo are orange, it got people wondering if there is a scientific explanation for orange cat breeds being more prone to developing freckles?!
Although the full explanation is still not known, it appears that the appearance of freckles is linked with the gene that causes the orange coat color.
The so-called “red gene” in cats determines whether the cat will be fully orange (like an orange tabby cat), partially orange (like a standard tortoiseshell cat) or not orange at all.
How this connects to the prevalence of freckles is not yet known!
What Are The Signs Of Lentigo?
Lentigo can be observed as:
🐾 Black spots on cat’s nose
🐾 Black spots around cat’s mouth
🐾 Black spots on the cat’s gums
🐾 Black spots on cat’s lips
Now that we know where these freckles can appear, let’s talk a bit about their appearance.
Important characteristics of the black spots:
🐾 They are either flat or slightly raised
🐾 They have clearly defined edges (not blurry ones)
🐾 The skin around them is perfectly normal in color
🐾 They do not cause any irritation
🐾 They are completely dry
These characteristics (spots being dry, flat or slightly raised, having clear boundaries and not causing discoloration or irritation to the surrounding skin) are very important in order to distinguish freckles from melanoma, which we will discuss in a moment.
If you see an orange cat with black spots that matches the description above – you’ve seen a cat with lentigo (or cat freckles)!
Is Lentigo Harmful To Cats?
If you’ve noticed black spots on your kitty’s face, you might have been worried, wondering Is lentigo dangerous for cats?
The answer is simple: Lentigo, or freckles, are not harmful to cats. It does not cause any pain or irritation to the surrounding skin, nor does it itch.
The presence of lentigo is not associated with any medical conditions. It is simply a skin condition caused by excess presence of black pigment.
Lentigo is completely benign, meaning it will never turn into cancer.
These freckles are merely a sweet little cosmetic mark on your cat’s nose that add to the cat’s adorableness!
Is Lentigo Treatable?
Lentigo is not treatable because there is no need for it to be treated!
Black spots on a cat’s nose, lips, and mouth are merely a cosmetic condition and do not cause any type of pain or irritation to the cat.
They can be compared to age spots in humans – they’re present but they do you no harm.
Your pet’s health is in no way endangered by the presence of freckles, so do not worry!
Is Lentigo The Only Potential Cause Of Black Spots?
Although the most likely answer to What are those black spots on my kitty’s face? is that they’re lentigo or cat freckles, this might not always be the case.
Sometimes it is not freckles but something else.
Let’s look into what the black spots could be, if not lentigo.
#1 Cat Acne
Your cat may have feline acne, also known as chin acne, if there are black specks on their chin and near their mouth.
Cat acne is a condition in which the hair follicles create excessive amounts of keratin and become clogged.
This results in the formation of black comedones (blackheads), which typically appear on the chin but can sometimes appear on the lips as well.
As both freckles and blackheads are black dots – some cat owners might mistake one for the other. However, freckles are usually larger and fewer in numbers, therefore they can be distinguished quite easily.
In order to get rid of acne (predominantly found on your cat’s chin), make sure to clean its cat food bowl regularly, and try switching to a stainless steel bowl as well (it’s thought that plastic bowls can contribute to formation of cat acne).
#2 Fleas (Or Flea Poop)
Unfortunately, those black tiny dots on your cat’s face (and potentially in your cat’s fur) can also be fleas or flea poop.
This is a major warning sign that the preventative flea treatment you’ve been using on your cat is definitely not working!
Fleas can transmit a wide range of illnesses that can make cats, dogs, and humans ill so it’s important to treat your pets and your home.
Lentigo is a non-cancerous lesion that can resemble melanomas (or similar tumors), therefore there is always a chance that it’s not lentigo, but rather melanoma.
Melanomas are tumors made up of melanocytes, which are pigment-producing cells. These abnormal growths can be benign or cancerous.
There is no way to instantly distinguish lentigo from melanomas at home.
If you’re ever concerned about a spot on your cat, especially if it grows larger, rises, or becomes tender, you should be cautious and talk to your veterinarian.
Your cat could develop malignant melanoma in the mouth or on the nose, and it can look similar to lentigo. Therefore, in order to be sure your kitty’s perfectly healthy, it’s best to consult your veterinarian.
Should I Go To The Vet If I Suspect My Cat Has Lentigo?
Although lentigo is completely harmless, you might still want to visit the vet – just to make sure the lentigo is definitely lentigo and not something else.
As lentigo can resemble melanoma lesions, it is best to get a definitive diagnosis that it’s not melanoma from your doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM).
It is most likely not melanoma, as melanoma is really rare in cats and it usually forms at other sites (ears and eyes). However, it is always best to be sure.
A biopsy may be required if your veterinarian thinks the black patches on your cat’s skin or gums could be melanoma.
Pet care can sometimes be stressful, I know!. However, a quick trip to the vet is worth it to make sure your cat’s health is in order!
What Are The Black Spots On My Cat’s Lips?
If you notice black spots on your cat’s lips, it is most likely lentigo simplex aka cat freckles. They are actually just patches of skin that have a high number of pigment-producing cells, therefore this skin is darker than the surrounding skin.
What Do Black Spots On My Cat’s Gums Mean?
If you’re wondering Why does my cat have black spots on his gums? – let me put your mind at rest. It’s most likely a case of lentigo, a completely harmless, non-cancerous skin condition caused by an excess amount of epidermal melanocytes.
What Is The Treatment For Black Spots On A Cat’s Mouth?
Lentigo simplex can appear as black spots on the cat’s mouth (on the lips) or black spots in cat’s mouth. It is completely harmless, so it requires no treatment.
Now you know that those black spots on your kitty’s skin are just a case of lentigo simplex (aka cat freckles) caused by an increased number of epidermal melanocytes in the skin.
You might also observe tiny spots on your kitty’s nose or lips. If your feline friend is an orange cat – then it is much more likely to have lentigo, as lentigo is much more common in orange cats!
These black spots are not cancerous, so there is absolutely nothing to be worried about! Apart from not needing treatment because it’s harmless, I think seeing a cat with freckles is pretty adorable!
I hope I’ve put your mind at ease regarding these black spots on cats mouth, just arrange a check up with your veterinary clinic if you are concerned.