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5-Year-Old Ginger Cat Grows Alarming Black Spots

December 4, 2011

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“What Are Those Black Spots on My
Cat’s Gums?”

Red short-haired kitty looks handsome and happy

Heavenly Ginger Cat

“Doc, Prince Harry never
used to have these black spots in his mouth, did he?” asked Harry’s
concerned mom. “I know what you are thinking. You’re
wondering if your cat has melanoma,” said Doc Truli. Harry’s
worried mom bit her lip and nodded her head. Her red hair
bounced up and down from the force of her nodding. Her
freckled nose flushed redder than normal. Harry’s mom was
incredibly worried.

Harry looked up at Doc from where he perched on the
silver stainless steel examination table. He was one of those
well-fed ginger cats that cannot be phased by anything. He’ll
give you kissy eyes and make kitty bread by kneading his paws while
he purrs from across the room. Plus, when I see a ginger
mom with a ginger cat, I know they are best friends. The
answers to the questions about cancer and black spots become even
more emotionally charged because Harry and his mom were inseparable

Tru Tip
Ginger cats (called “red” or “tan” in the US) and white cats, in Doc Truli’s experience, seem
to grow the spots more than other colors of cats. Also,
calico (black, orange, white) and tortoiseshell cats (black, orange
mixed) can be seen with new flat black spots on the eyelids, lips,
gums, or pads.

A gentle hand and a thoughtful,
quiet serious approach seemed best. “Harry, can I take a look at
your lips?” Harry stood up, back arched, on tip toes and
rubbed his short red furred forehead all over Doc Truli’s white
doctor consultation jacket. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes.'” By
gently stabilizing his head and lifting the corner of a lip, I got
a good look. Flat, black, irregular marks on the gums and the
lips. “Those are new, I swear they are,” said Harry’s mom.

The pink lips of this ginger cat grew black smudgy flat spots
over a few months

spots on the upper gums and lip of a ginger cat

“Those are normal spots that some cats
grow after a few years,” said Doc Truli. “Some cats get them
on the eyelids, some in the mouth, sometimes on the foot pads.
Generally, as long as they are not bulging or red or sore, we
leave them alone.”
“If your cat develops a black
spot on the iris – the colored part in the eye – have it checked by
the veterinarian as quicky as possible. Usually, it’s
nothing, but ocular melanoma in cats metastasizes to other areas in
the body quickly,” says Doc Truli.

“Oh, thank
goodness!” Harry’s mom exhaled in relief. It seemed like
she’d been holding her breath all week, frightened of what she
might hear at the vet visit. Luckily, it was all good news!
[The mouth in this picture is a different kitty under anesthesia
for dental care. That’s why the gums are bleeding.
Plus, if you look closely, you can see the clear plastic
endotracheal breathing tube.]

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Caron permalink
    November 19, 2015 7:36 pm

    Hi there, my 6 yr old ginger Tom cat has recently developed black scabs on is lips ! He has a white nose & mouth & chin, chest & tummy! & under his chin there was a black scab which I scratched & I think I may have spread it to his lips? Could it be a flea infestation ? from Caron.

  2. December 4, 2011 6:40 pm

    I had also been told that another reason those spots show up as orange cats age is genetically, orange cats are black. The orange gene has two alleles: non- orange and orange. The non-orange allele, o, is recessive and allows full expression of the black locus.The dominant orange allele, O, however, influences expression of the black and agouti loci because it substitutes the production of phaeomelanin for eumelanin. It masks the effect of the black gene by converting a black or brown coat to orange.

    • Genes are cool. permalink
      January 23, 2014 10:04 pm

      Teri and the cats of Curlz and Swirls, Orange cats are genetically orange. The colour is a sex-linked trait, not recessive. This is because the orange and black colour alleles are on the X chromosome. Male cats have only one X chromosome, and one Y, while females have two x chromosomes. Orange male cats are hemizygous (having only one copy) of the allele, and thus can only be orange or black. Females have two x chromosomes, and thus can be orange and black (Calicos). Sterile males with a chromosome disorder. (XXY) could also be calico, but it is rare. It has nothing to do with the black spots on the lips.

      • January 24, 2014 9:03 am

        Thanks Terri!

  3. December 4, 2011 6:16 pm

    I have a ginger cat, and now I know what to look for, what to worry about and not worry about. Thank you.

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