Have you ever woken up one day and noticed that your cat looks kinda pouty almost to the extent of doing a ‘Mick Jagger’?
Or some cat owners might even be surprised that their cats have lips to begin with. And at times it is possible for your cat to look like it has a swollen lip, especially on its lower lip. But what exactly is causing your cat’s swollen lip?
Your cat’s swollen lip can be caused by a wide range of health problems. This can range from something as mundane as an allergy, kitty acne, dental problems or even something as serious as a tumor. There are times when the swelling will subside on its own but most times, your cat’s lips would require medical treatment.
In this article, we will be taking a closer look at each possible reason that could be making your cat’s lip swollen and what you should be doing about it.
My Cat Has Lips?
Take a good look at your cat’s mouth and you’ll be hard-pressed to see your cat’s lips with all that fur covering the skin. Furthermore, your cat’s mouth isn’t open all the time like a dog’s which makes it easier to see the lips.
But your cat’s lips are definitely there.
Cats are mammals like humans which means that they have and need lips for latching on and sucking on their mother’s nipples for milk as kittens.
The best way to take a look at your cat’s lips is to gently lift up your cat’s mouth and you should see a thin black line that runs around its mouth.
That’s the lip.
Why Does My Cat Have A Sore On Its Lower Lip?
For most cat owners, when your cat’s lip is swollen, it will look like it has a sore on its lower lip. Just like how it would be when we have a cold sore on our lips.
It will be looking red, inflamed, swollen and might even be bleeding.
Here are some possible reasons that could be causing your cat’s lip to be swollen.
Cats, like humans, can have their own allergies too. And there are many things that your cat can be allergic to.
The swollen cat’s lips could be an allergic reaction to something that it has eaten or come into close contact with.
Besides having a swollen lip, your cat can also exhibit other symptoms like:
- Watery eyes
- Nasal discharge
- Excessive scratching
- Red and inflamed skin on cat’s body
The thing with allergies is that they can be difficult to nail down. It is through a process of elimination that most cat owners have to go through to find the root cause.
Sometimes it could be something as straightforward as a type of meat or even dairy. Cats are lactose intolerant and should not be drinking milk.
Sometimes, it could also be due to one ingredient in their canned food that is causing the flare-up.
What Should I Do?
If you recently started feeding your cat a new cat food or added something new to your cat’s diet, revert back to the old and see if that helps with the lip swelling.
If that doesn’t help, it would be best to take your cat to the vet for an allergy test to see what is triggering an allergic reaction in your cat.
Your vet might even prescribe medication like antihistamines to help with your cat’s swollen lip and other symptoms when it happens.
2. Feline Acne
We associate acne with teenagers and young adults and lo and behold, our cats can get acne too and it is usually found on your cat’s chin.
Feline acne is caused when your cat’s hair follicles get infected with bacteria.
Also known as chin acne, this condition is very common in cats and can be easily spotted by observing your cat’s chin for ‘blackheads’. Your cat’s chin will also look rather dirty like it was rubbed on a dirty surface.
In more serious causes, it can lead to lesions, swelling and itchiness. Your cat will be scratching its chin a lot which might make it bleed.
In some instances, the chin acne in your cat can also cause your cat’s lip to swell up.
There are some causes for this:
- Type of food or water dish
- Food stuck on the chin
What Should I Do?
I’ve always struggled to get rid of my cat’s chin acne in his younger days. It didn’t really start to improve until I did the following:
Used Only Stainless Steel Bowls
There are many cats that seem to have a bad reaction to ceramic and plastic bowls. These materials are known to cause chin acne in cats and they tend to harbor bacteria more easily.
Once I changed out my cat’s bowls to stainless steel, his chin acne got a lot better.
Wipe Your Cat’s Mouth
Our cats do a pretty good job of keeping themselves clean after a meal but not all the time. If your cat is on a raw food diet or wet food, it is quite common for its chins to be wet with food stains after each meal.
If the cat doesn’t clean that area properly, it can lead to bacterial and fungal infections.
I make it a point to wipe my cat’s mouth and chin with a wet tissue to make sure it’s clean and clear of any food bits.
3. Dental Disease
Not many cat owners do a very good job of keeping their cat’s mouths clean and I am guilty of that too. But good oral hygiene is very important for your cat’s health.
The common dental issues in cats are:
Gingivitis is a condition that affects your cat’s gums. This can cause the gums to bleed and become inflamed and recede. If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis whereby the tissues that attach the cat’s tooth to the gums are damaged.
Periodontitis is irreversible as compared to gingivitis. Regardless of whichever it is, we should not even let our cat’s dental health deteriorate to such an extent.
Other symptoms of a dental infection include:
- Lack of appetite
- Stomatitis and tooth resorption
- Bleeding in mouth
- Constant pawing at the mouth
- Constant shaking of the head
What Should I Do?
If your cat is showing any signs of a dental infection or disease, please take it to the vet as soon as possible for treatment.
It is most likely that your cat will have to undergo a dental procedure to remove plaque and whatever gunk that is stuck to its teeth and gums.
Tooth extraction might be required in cases whereby the tooth can no longer be saved.
To do what we can to prevent dental problems in our cats, getting your cat used to having its teeth brushed is a good start.
I understand that trying to brush your cat’s teeth feels like pulling teeth (pun intended) but it is a necessary evil. It is best to start when your cat is just a kitten so that it gets easier as an adult.
Make sure to use only cat-friendly toothpaste as human toothpaste is very toxic to cats.
4. Rodent Ulcer
Rodent Ulcers are ugly look sores that can pop up on your cat’s lip all of a sudden. Many cat owners might think that it is caused by the bite of a rodent but thankfully it isn’t.
It is considered part of a group of skin disorders in cats called Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex.
A rodent ulcer is usually caused by an allergic reaction or flea bites. Cats with autoimmune disorders like FeLV and FIV can also experience the onset of such ulcers.
These sores might seem serious but they don’t cause much discomfort to the cat.
What Should I Do?
Even though the sores might not be causing your cat much discomfort it would still be good to let your vet take a look.
The vet might do a biopsy and run some blood tests to try and determine the cause. These sores won’t heal well on their own and will require a course of antibiotics or topical cream to treat.
5. Stung By A Bug
Cats are known to be curious about bugs and will not hesitate to investigate or even try to eat them. Unfortunately, not all bugs are safe with some being able to bite and sting.
Here are some common venomous creepy crawlies that you need to keep your cat away from:
Your cat might have gotten too close to one of these bugs and got stung or bitten on the lip.
Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
What Should I Do?
If you suspect that your cat has been bitten by something, get it to the vet immediately Take note of whatever bit or stung your cat and let the vet know.
Time is of the essence especially if venom is involved. The faster your cat is able to get treated the better.
6. Oral Tumors
An oral tumor is a cancerous growth that can happen in any part of your cat’s mouth and lips. This growth can either be malignant or benign.
These tumors can appear as swelling on your cat’s swollen lip and will often break and bleed. It is hard to determine the exact cause for such tumors but it can be genetic or just due to the poor overall health of the cat.
What Should I Do?
Treating oral tumors usually involves surgery to remove the tumor and radiation treatment to kill off any aggressive cancer cells left in your cat.
The best way to give your cat a good chance at fighting this is to treat it early before the cancer spreads to other parts of the cat’s body.