Finding a new black spot on your cat can usually cause worry and panic. We’ve been there before, and we know how it feels to be scared for your little best friend. Sometimes, however, being well informed about a condition can help save you a lot of anxiety and help you deal better with the whole situation. Here is what black spots on a cat’s tongue mean and how to properly deal with them.
Black Spots on Cat’s Tongue Aren’t Always a Worrying Sign
Lentigo is a very common cat genetic condition that causes the appearance of black spots on cats’ tongues, mouths, and gums. It’s just a benign and cosmetic condition that doesn’t require any treatment. However, it’s better to have any black spots checked to exclude the possibility of melanoma, which is very serious and can cause a cancerous malignant tumor.
What Is Lentigo?
Lentigo is a genetic condition that causes an increase in pigment-producing cells called epidermal melanocytes. As these cells grow in number, black or brown little spots start forming on your cat’s face, especially on the tongue, nose, lips, and eyelids.
While orange cats are the most likely to be affected by lentigo, it’s not exclusive to them. Lentigo can also appear on yellow, tortoiseshell, and calico cats. It is also worth mentioning that lentigo affects middle-aged to older cats more than younger ones.
What Are the Causes of Lentigo?
To this day, the exact causes of lentigo are still a mystery. While freckles, for example, form on human skin in association with sun exposure, lentigo on felines have no relation to increased sun exposure.
What Are the Early Signs of Lentigo?
The early stages of lentigo often begin as little black spots popping up on the cat’s lips before spreading to their tongue, gums, and nose. As the little kitten ages, the black spots grow more prominent in number and size, causing clusters of tiny spots to merge and form larger, more obvious black spots.
How to Identify Lentigo on My Cat?
Apart from the visual cues we explained earlier, like the black or brown spots on your cat’s tongue, gum, nose, or eyelids, there is a simple test you can do to help identify lentigo.
Gently feel the black spot on your cat’s tongue with your fingertip and observe whether the spot is raised over the rest of the tongue’s surface or if it’s merely a different color pigmentation. If the black spot is even with the rest of the tongue, then it’s most likely to be the effect of lentigo and not a malignant tumor.
However, it’s worth noting that in some rare cases, even-surfaced black spots might also be tumorous. So it’s always better to ask for a professional opinion.
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Should I Worry About My Cat’s Lentigo?
Now for the big question. Should I be concerned for my little kitty’s safety if they have lentigo? Well, the short answer: No, you shouldn’t be.
While newly-formed black spots on your cat’s tongue or gum might understandably cause you to panic at first, you can be relieved to know that lentigo is just a benign and cosmetic condition and should not cause any worry. It’s the feline equivalent of human freckles or aging spots, and it requires no treatment.
However, it’s important to note that to an untrained eye, lentigo can sometimes be confused with or even mask melanoma, a cancerous tumor that spreads rapidly and aggressively. So while there’s a big chance that your cat’s black spots are just lentigo, I still recommend that you get your little furry friend checked by a vet. Better be safe than sorry, right?
Does Lentigo Hurt or Bother My Cat in Any Way?
I know how concerned we can all be when things come down to the well-being of our pets. It is easy to be worried about them being silently in pain because they can’t be vocal about it. But in this case, there is thankfully no need to worry because Mr. Buttons is not bothered and cannot feel lentigo any more than a person can feel their freckles. So it’s all good!
Related: How much chicken can I feed my cat?
When Should Black Spots on My Cat Be a Worrying Sign?
While the black spots caused by lentigo are no cause for concern, there are similar-looking medical conditions that may cause health issues to your cat if not treated early.
- Melanoma: As we explained earlier, melanoma is one of the most serious conditions that can affect cat skin. This malignant tumor can spread rapidly, starting from the tongue and mouth all the way to the liver and lungs. Melanoma’s biggest tell is a red lump on the skin or raised black spots.
- Fleas: These parasites feed on sucking your cat’s blood and look like tiny black dots that are easy to miss on your cat’s fur or skin. Fleas spread widely, especially in the summer, and lay eggs and dirt into your cat’s fur.
- Acne: This is the most common skin condition in cats. They start as black dots on the cat’s skin, then turn to red inflammation that can end up being quite itchy for them. Poor hygiene is usually the primary cause of acne for felines.
How To Check the Inside of Your Cat’s Mouth and Why It’s Important to Do So?
A cat’s dental health is usually a good indicator of their overall health. Any damage to your cat’s tongue, teeth, or gums could lead to dental and other medical issues. As a general rule of thumb, a cat’s gum should be firm and pink.
As a cat owner, the idea of opening your cat’s mouth and checking its dental condition is essential, even if it can be a little intimidating at first. But, don’t worry, we got your back. Here’s how you should safely open your reluctant cat’s mouth and how to assess their dental condition.
Black spots on cats are generally not a cause for concern. They’re usually the product of a genetic condition called Lentigo, which only causes cats’ cosmetic changes. On some rare occasions, however, black spots can signify melanoma, a serious medical condition that requires instant medical interference.
To help keep your pet safe and healthy, we advise you to schedule regular checkups with your vet and always report anything irregular that you might notice.