When we hear the word “lips,” we think of those of people. But it’s not just people who have them. In fact, all mammals have lips, including cats.
Cats do have lips, even though many owners do not notice them. They are difficult to observe because they are thin and small and are usually hidden by fur, especially the upper lip.
Lips are, in fact, very useful for cats – they play an essential role in kitten feeding. Without them, baby cats would not be able to consume milk and survive. But this is not the only role of cat lips.
In this article, you will learn if cats have lips, what their lips are for, what is a cat’s lip,how it should look like, and much more.
Do cats have lips?
Cats have lips, even if you can’t notice them very well. The lower lip is the most visible, while the upper lip is almost always hidden by hair.The upper lip is also split in two. Its role is to capture odors and send them to the vomeronasal organ.
Why do cats need lips?
All mammals have lips, which they use primarily to feed when they are babies. Mammals are born with the ability to suck, which is an instinctive behavior (primary reflex) and is not something they learn.
Cats are mammals and they do not have teeth when they are born – they begin to develop later.
Lips help newborn kittens feed. If they didn’t have lips, kittens wouldn’t be able to consume milk form their mother. Sucking is an essential part of their development when they are babies until their teeth grow and switch to solid food.
Cats also use their lips to leave their scent. They have glands that secrete pheromones on the forehead, lips, or front paws. They use them to transmit specific messages to other animals and mark their territory.
What should cat lips look like?
Cat lips are thin and barely visible, unlike people who have fleshy and visible lips.
Our little felines should have pink or black lips color (for those with pigmented skin). With age, pigment spots may appear on pink lips in cats, which is completely normal.
Why are cat lips hard to see?
Cat lips are hard to see because they are thin and small. While you can see your cat’s lower lip if you inspect closely, the upper lip is usually hidden by the fur.
Do cats have pink lips?
Most cats have pink lips, but not all of them. The color of their lips is usually related to the general fur color and breed. Cat breeds with white or lighter fur (e.g. shades of orange) usually have pink lips. Considering that most orange cats (80%) are males, we could say that pink lips appear in orange cats. But there are also female and male cats that are completely white or female cats with white and orange fur that can have pink lips. Therefore, there is no gender predisposition for the pink lip color.
Why do some cats have black lips?
There are also cats with black lips. The cat breeds with this lip color are those with dark furs, such as black cats, tabby cats, and dark gray cats. As with pink lips, there is no direct connection with a gender for this color.
Why do cats have black spots on their lips?
This combination of pink lips with pigmented black spots is less common. There is nothing wrong with your cat if it has black spots on its pink lips. Your cat may have pigmented skin in other places too, not just the lips. So look at its paws to see if your cat doesn’t have its toe beans in multiple colors. Usually, multi-colored cats have colorful (pink and black) toe beans and lips.
Do cats have 3 lips?
Cats only have two lips. The upper lip is split in two – the split is called philtrum or medial cleft. This split is specific to most mammals. Even people have a remnant of the philtrum, which is the dent above the upper lip. The medial cleft is dysfunctional in humans.
The main role of the philtrum is to transport odors from the nose to the vomeronasal organ through the canals inside the mouth so that mammals can smell better. The vomeronasal organ is an auxiliary part of the nose found in many animals. It is located in the soft tissue of the nasal septum in the nose and has a role in detecting pheromones and other odorous particles.
Do cats slobber?
Cats usually do not salivate as dogs do when they see food or their owners. But it can still happen. If your cat only slobbers when it sees food, there is no need to worry.
However, if you see your cat drooling all day long, it may have dental problems such as tartar buildup, cavities, or other oral diseases. All of these can cause irritation, discomfort, and bad breath. To look into your cat’s mouth, gently pull its lips back and inspect the teeth and gums.
When do cats curl their lips?
Cats curl their lips after long-sniffing something, and then remain with their mouth opened for many seconds. This usually happens when a cat smells pheromones, and this phenomenon is called the flehmen response. Flehmen is a German word meaning “to bare the upper teeth.”
Many mammals have this type of response. They exposed their gums and front teeth to transfer the scent into their vomeronasal organ.
This process can be sometimes confused with an aggressive growl, but it is quite common behavior for cats and there is no need to worry.
Why does my cat have a swollen lip?
A swollen lip is clearly visible in a cat, especially if it is on the lower lip. The most common reasons your cat may have a swollen lip are:
- You recently introduced dry food into your cat’s diet –The Kibbles are too big and scratch your cat’s lip.
- Injury – Your cat may have been injured while playing or may have fallen from a height and hit the ground with its mouth. Check your cat’s mouth and teeth to make sure no blood is dripping and there are no broken teeth or bones.
- Animal bite – If you have more pets in your household or your cat is going outside, another animal may have bitten it.
- Insect bite – Your cat may have sniffed the wrong insect, such as a spider or a bee. If you notice other areas of the body are swelling too, not just the bite site, go to the vet right away because your cat may have an allergic reaction.
- Allergic reaction – The lips can swell as a result of an allergy, which may occur due to contact with household chemicals, flowers, plants, medicines, or new foods.
- Viral infection–In some viral infections, your cat can develop blisters on its lip that can burst and become inflamed.
- Cancer– This medical condition can affect any tissue, including the lips.
- Eosinophilic granuloma – Is an inflammatory disease and consists of a group of lesions that affect the skin, mucocutaneous junction, and oral cavity. You may notice a red, hot, uneven swelling on one of your cat’s lips. The lesions also appear in your cat’s mouth. If you observe ulcers on its lips or mouth, go to the vet.
Why do cats have dark (brown) areas around their mouths?
Reasons for dark areas around your cat’s mouth can range from cosmetic to dangerous. The 2 most common causes for dark areas around your cat’s mouth are:
Acne – In cats, it causes discomfort and even pain. Acne can lead to more severe skin diseases or even fur loss if left untreated. Your cat will develop red sores, its hair will fall out in those areas, and it can even bleed in severe stages. Acne can leave brown spots around the mouth or in the areas where the sores occurred.
This medical condition is not contagious, so isolation is unnecessary and is a precautionary measure that can be quite stressful for your little feline.
Drooling – Most cats salivate when they are happy, groom themselves, etc. Certain health problems, especially oral diseases, can make a cat hypersalivate. The excess saliva will dry and stain the chin forming like a dark shadow around the lips. If you notice your cat is not eating or drinking as it should, paws at its face, or refuses food, contact the vet.
Why cats can’t fully close their lips?
In general, cats should be able to close their lips and mouth. The reasons why a cat is suddenly unable to close its mouth are: 
- Temporomandibular joint luxation
- Temporomandibular joint fracture or caudal mandible fracture
- Open-mouth jaw locking
- Acquired dental malocclusion
- Trigeminal neuritis
If your cat seems unable to close its mouth, has difficulty chewing or swallowing food, meows when it chews, and salivates excessively, consult your veterinarian.
Influence of Temperature (Sun) on cat lips
Cats have their own freckles, which are called lentigo. Lentigo is a harmless condition in which small dark spots appear on the skin (on the nose, lips, gums, etc.). It is a genetic disorder in which the number of epidermal melanocytes increases. These cells produce the pigment melanin – the more they multiply, the more black or brown spots will appear on your cat’s face.
It generally affects middle-aged to old cats, but can also occur in one-year-olds. Lentigo has no color predisposition and can appear in all cats with orange fur.
The cause of this condition is unknown and does not appear to coincide with sun exposure, as is the case with freckles in humans.
Why lips are Pale? Anemia in Cats
In cases of anemia, when the cat loses blood or the number of red blood cells is low, the lips and mucous membranes turn pale pink to white porcelain (in case of severe anemia).
Causes of anemia and pale lips in felines may include:
- Intestinal worms
- Internal bleeding
- Kidney problems
- Blood diseases
- Autoimmune causes
- Genetic diseases
- Bone marrow disorders
- Liver disease etc.
The most common symptoms of cat anemia are:
- Sudden weight loss – is one of the most visible symptoms.
- Loss of appetite – Anemic cats refuse food because they don’t feel hunger.
- Lack of energy – Extreme fatigue may indicate cat anemia.
- Pale mucous membranes – Part of the cat’s body may become pale, such as the mouth, tongue, or snout.
It is important to take your cat to the vet when you notice these symptoms. Anemia is dangerous and can pose a threat to your cat’s life.
How to keep your cat lips healthy? Vet tips
To keep your cat’s lips healthy, first make sure you go to the vet as soon as a problem occurs or something seems suspicious. Second, give your cat a diet that meets its needs. For example, if your cat does not have teeth, you will give it a wet food as it can scratch its lips and gums with kibbles. Also, if you cat has sores on its lips, a wet diet is more suited.
In addition to a special meal, you can give your cat skin and fur supplements to heal its lips faster. The best products are those that contain vitamin A and/or fish oil.
Why do cats lick their owners?
Cats can lick you everywhere, from head to toe, seemingly for no reason. One of the motives your cat licks you is because your hands smell or taste good. Others may include:
- Grooming–sometimes cats lick us as they do with other cats. This is a sign of affection.
- You taste salty;
- It wants to strengthen its bond with you;
- It is a manner of showing affection towards you.
Why do cats lick each other?
Cats lick each other as a sign of affection or when they feel comfortable in the company of another feline. This behavior is also often seen in mothers who lick their kittens immediately after they are born to clean them.
Can you get sick from kissing cats lips? Is cat saliva harmful for humans?
It is best to avoid kissing your cat on the lips as it can be a carrier of contagious bacteria such as Pasteurella, Staphylococcus, E-Coli, and Salmonella. They can also transmit parasites and many diseases.
If you have a strong immune system and your cat does not have any health issues, it is not a problem to give it a quick kiss on the lips. However, people at high risk are represented by:
- Very young children
- Pregnant women
- People with an impaired immune system etc.
Cats have lips, even if they are hidden. Their lips are thin, pink, black, or mixed. The upper lip has a split that helps them smell better.
If your cat’s lips are swollen, have an unusual color, your pet no longer eats, it salivates excessively, etc., contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to examine your pet.
Do not kiss your cat on the lips, especially if it has lesions at this level.
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