Last Updated on March 20, 2021 by Julia Wilson
At a glance
Also called: Age spots, liver spots, orange cat lentigo.
About: Also known as lentigo, areas of hyperpigmentation develop on the lips, gums and eye rims.
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.
Lentigo is the name of a common condition in which flat, brown or black spots appear on mucocutaneous junctions of the face (gums, lips, nose and eye margins) of orange, tortoiseshell, calico, yellow, flame (red) point cats. It is the result of an increase in the number of epidermal melanocytes – pigment-producing cells – which causes hyperpigmentation.
Black areas of pigmentation first appear on the lips, and later lesions can develop on the eyelids, gums, and nose. Lesions start small and become more widespread as the cat ages.
The presence of lentigo is completely normal and harmless, however, any changes to the skin and mucous membranes must be evaluated by a veterinarian to differentiate them from melanoma, which is a cancer of the melanocytes.
- Single (lentigo) or multiple (lentigines) flat brown/black lesions with a clear and defined border. The skin or mucosa surrounding the area is normal. Lesions start small and increase in size often merging to create larger areas of black pigmentation.
- Most cats have a single or a handful of lesions (lentigo simplex), others may have a significant number of lesions (lentigo profusa).
Freckles are associated with sun exposure in humans; however, the cause of lentigo is unknown in cats.
Lentigo is a benign condition, and most veterinarians can diagnose it based on presenting symptoms. In some cases, the veterinarian may recommend a biopsy with a fine needle for microscopic evaluation.
Lentigo is a cosmetic condition only and requires no medical treatment.
Black spots on cat’s lips and chin
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 develop 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.