Black Spots (Lentigo) on Cats Gums, Nose and Eyelids

Black spots on cat gums and lips at a glance

  • Flat, black spots on the eyelids,  gums and lips of ginger, tortie and calico cats are common, they are the feline equivalent of freckles.
  • Medically known as lentigo, they are completely harmless although it is still highly recommended you seek the advice of a veterinarian just to confirm lentigo.
  • No medical treatment is necessary for this condition.

black spots on cat gums

Also known as orange cat lentigo, lentigo is the name of a common condition in which black spots appear on the gums, lips, nose and eye margins of orange, cream, tortoiseshell, calico, yellow, flame (red) point and silver coloured cats.

The condition typically begins in cats under one year of age and first appear on the lips. Later lesions may appear on the eyelids, gums, and nose. Lesions typically become more widespread as a cat ages.  Lentigo is the result of an increase in the number of melanocytes (pigment-producing cells).

What does lentigo look like?

lentigo in cats
Image Rob Stanley, Flickr

Lesions start on the lips as small spots and gradually increase in size and become more numerous as the cat ages.

Single or multiple (known as lentigines)  brown/black spots which are small, flat or slightly raised and have clearly defined edges. The skin surrounding the area is normal. Lesion size ranges from 1-10mm.

Most cats have single or a handful of lesions (lentigo simplex), others may have a great number of lesions (lentigo profusa).

What causes lentigo in cats?

In people, it is associated with sun exposure, however, the etiology is unknown in cats.

Diagnosing lentigo

Black spots on cat's gums and nose

Any change to your cat’s skin (including the gums) should be investigated by your veterinarian. He will perform a physical examination of your cat and obtain a medical history from you.

While lentigo is benign, he may wish to rule out other medical conditions such as melanoma. To differentiate, a biopsy may be taken using a fine needle. The tissue sample is then sent to a laboratory for histopathology.

How is lentigo treated in cats?

lentigo in cats
Image Andrew Sweeny, Flickr

Lentigo is a cosmetic condition only, it is harmless and requires no treatment.

Black spots on cat’s lips:

Before I finish, I wanted to quickly cover another cause of black spots which may be seen on and around your cat’s lips unrelated to lentigo. Feline acne is the presence of black comedones (blackheads) predominantly on the chin, but can also be found on the lips too (see photo below).
I have already covered this topic in detail here, so won’t go over it again. Acne can range from mild, as in the cat below to severe. Severe acne can become inflamed and progress to open sores on the chin which will need to be treated with antibiotics and medicated shampoos.

black spots on cat

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