Why Do Some Cats Have Freckles On Them?

Cats and humans share many traits. And freckles is one of them. When you look at your adult or senior cat, you may have noticed that they have freckles. Kittens will not have freckles, just as human babies likely won’t either. Many cat owners with orange cats have cats with freckles. If you’ve ever wondered why your cat has freckles, there’s a unique science behind it that’s pretty interesting. 

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My cat Tom has a big one on his nose that showed up at around three years of age.

What are cat freckles technically called?

We might just think that these are spots our cats have, but they still do technically qualify as freckles. According to Ask the Cat Doctor, these dark spots can appear on your cat’s mouth, nose, inside of their ears, and on the edges of their eyelids.

For your cat, these dark spots can develop any place on your cat that has visible skin or mucous membranes. The development of these freckles is known as the lentigo complex. The plural, lentigines, often develop on cats as cats start to age. With time, more will develop as the years go by. This is similar for humans, but as we know many humans develop more freckles from sun exposure. With our cats, this isn’t cause for freckles. For black cats that begin to look a tad rusty, this is true in relation to sun exposure.

My Maine Coon mix, Mr. Purple,has freckles on his eyelids, mouth, and faint ones on his nose.

For humans, freckles are most common for those with red or auburn hair. And interestingly enough, our ginger cats are the same. Freckles in cats are most common for ginger cats and calicos—seeing as calicos have the orange gene, too. Tortoiseshell and cats with flame points, like the Siamese, are also prone to the development of cat freckles. For our feline friends, the freckles generally appear on the lips first, followed by the eyelids. Then the nose and sometimes even on the the pads of the feet.

When it comes to cat freckles, need not worry

As devoted cat owners, we often worry when we see things pop up on our cats that we haven’t seen before. It’s a normal and natural reaction to feel worried about your cat’s freckles. But the good thing is, your cat’s freckles are not cause for concern. It’s important for you to regularly investigate your cat in between vet visits and dental cleanings. But know that cat freckles are not red (well, black!) flags jumping out at you. As mentioned above, these generally occur first on the lips, and their spread is relatively slow. 

These brown or flat black spots are completely harmless and simply a sign of aging. They come as a direct result of increased epidermal melanocytes. It is these pigment-producing cells that result in hyperpigmentation and produce those adorable little feline freckles. The lentigo simplex is strictly a cosmetic condition with no treatment necessary. Lentigo freckles don’t later become melanoma, so you don’t have to worry about it being an early warning sign of anything.

Why do cats get freckles?
Photography via jdickert, Creative Commons on Flickr.
Did you learn anything new or interesting about our feline friends? Share this article with other cat owners out there so they can learn something, too.

If you’re reading this, I bet you’re a lover of ginger cats. Want to find out more about these orange (and always striped!) cuties of the cat world? Check out my article dedicated just to them here on cattitudedaily.com.


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