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

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About    Appearance    Causes    Diagnosis    Treatment

 

Lentigo

At a glance:

Also called: Age spots, liver spots, orange cat lentigo

About: Medically known as lentigo, dark spots on the lips, gums and eye rims are pigmented spots which are harmless. However, it is still important to see a veterinarian to evaluate the spots and confirm they are lentigo.

Symptoms: Flat, black spots on the eyelids,  gums and lips of ginger, tortie and calico cats are common, they are the feline equivalent of freckles.

Treatment: No medical treatment is necessary for this condition.

 

black spots on cat gums

Black spots on gums and nose:

Lentigo is the name of a common condition in which flat, brown or black spots appear on hairless areas including the gums, lips, nose and eye margins of orange, tortoiseshell, calico, yellow, flame (red) point coloured cats. It is the result of an increase in the number of melanocytes (pigment-producing cells).

Spots first appear on the lips, and later lesions can develop on the eyelids, gums, and nose. Lesions typically become more widespread as the cat ages.

Appearance:

lentigo in cats
Image Rob Stanley, Flickr

  • Flat 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 a clear and defined border. 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).

Cause:

It is associated with sun exposure in humans, however, the cause is unknown in cats.

Diagnosis:

Black spots on cat's gums and nose

Changes to your cat’s skin (including the gums) should be evaluated by a 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 will be taken using a fine needle. The tissue sample is then sent to a laboratory for histopathology.

Treatment:

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 want to talk about another cause of black spots which can occur 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 occur on the lips.

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 treatment with antibiotics and medicated shampoos.

black spots on cat

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the info on black spots. I have a white and black male and just moved from Salt Lake where he was an inside cat for 10 years to CA where he can go outside. Ticks and fleas. He had a few ticks on him after moving here and being spooked by a rain storm he was gone 3 days and came. back with ticks. I’m so glad it’s age related but then sad knowing he’s on the other side. I’ve had cars live over 20 years. Sadly my other cat wiggled or of my arms the same night when he didn’t come home. My Benny never made it back. Not knowing what happened to your pet is the worse thing ever. I was determined they would not go out at night moving to Hoopa reservation where there are wild animals but he was worried never returned. Thanks again for black spot.I was pretty sure it was an age spot being an ex vet tech and getting my own. Moral if you have an inside cat even though he had an acre and was far from a road keep them by your side. That’s where they belong.

    • Hi Ruby, I agree. It’s not just about keeping the cats safe, but also the wildlife. My cats are mostly indoors (they do have a cat run they can go into).

  2. I have an inside orange kitty who developed these. I was terrified it was oral cancer. My last kitty died from it. I’ve had cats all my life and this was news to me. So happy it’s nithing!

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