Your kitty's tongue is a multifunctional tool. She laps up milk and scarfs tasty morsels with it, and she washes and brushes with it when she grooms. Her tongue can be a health barometer, too: Discoloration is an indicator of possible illness in your cat.
Pink Tongue, Healthy Cat
Under normal circumstances your cat's tongue should be pink. This lets you know that her blood is flowing normally and that she's getting the oxygen she needs. Discoloration of a normally pink tongue implies something's wrong. Get her to the doctor right away.
Breathing and Heart Problems
Breathing and heart problems are two issues that can cause a change in the color of your kitty's tongue. If your cat has bronchitis, asthma or other lung ailments or allergic reactions that affect her breathing, you must keep an eye on the color of her tongue and gums. If they turn gray or a bluish color, contact your vet immediately. A tongue that is a blue-gray shade can be a sign of a heart problem, too. If your cat's tongue discolors when exercising or exerting herself, and she has a dry cough and tires easily, a heart condition may be the cause.
If your cat is experiencing a problem with her kidneys, her tongue could appear to have a blue, gray or even purple tinge if not full discoloration. In the case of kidney issues, tongue discoloration will be accompanied by other symptoms like bad breath and mouth sores. A cat with kidney problems drinks more and uses her litter box more, and she may throw up frequently, lose weight and shed more than usual. Don't wait for her to become lethargic and develop a fever; call the vet right away if you notice your cat's tongue is discolored and she's displaying any of these symptoms.
A black spot on your cat's healthy pink tongue is not necessarily a concern. Black spots are more common on dogs' tongues, but once in awhile a kitten is born with a tongue spot. If your kitty has had a spot on her tongue all her life, don't worry about it -- it doesn't have any significance to her health. On the other hand, if her typically pink tongue develops one or more black spots out of the blue, that's an indication something could be wrong. Take her to see the vet to determine if it's cause for concern.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Feline Internal Medicine Secrets; Michael R. Lappin
- Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats; Richard H. Pitcairn, D.V.M. and Susan Hubble Pitcairn
- How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat; Pam Johnson-Bennett
- What Your Cat is Trying to Tell You; John M. Simon, D.V.M. and Stephanie Pederson
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.