A tumor under your cat’s tongue – Now what?

You have a cat with a tumor or swelling under its tongue. That is of course very annoying. Both for you and for your cat. Now of course you really want to know what that tumor is and what you could do about it. It’s also very important that the cause of the tumor under your cat’s tongue is being diagnosed. Only this way will he have the best chance of recovery.

What swellings can occur in cats with a tumor under the tongue?

We call every form of swelling a “tumor”. However, a tumor is actually always associated with cancer. In the real sense of the word, a tumor alone is not always cancer, but can also be just an inflammation. Unfortunately very often a tumor under the tongue of a cat really is cancer. Below you will find a list of the possible causes of a tumor under the tongue in a cat.

a tumor under the tongue of a cat.
real tumors

A swelling in which the cells start to multiply uncontrollably is a real tumor. These can be benign or malignant. Benign means that it will not metastasize. However, those tumors are getting bigger and getting in the way. Malignant tumors are also getting bigger, but they also spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs and liver in particular. Both of these forms of true tumors occur in older cats. Young cats almost never have a tumor under the tongue. Due to the size of these tumors cats can’t eat normally anymore and eventually will starve to death. 


An abscess is a cavity filled with pus. This is caused by a bacterial infection under the tongue. Very occasionally this can be due to an inflamed tooth, but most often this is a result of a foreign object such as a splinter that has made a hole in the tissue under the tongue. For example, a bone fragment from a trapped mouse or a nail from another cat during a fight. The body tries to clear the infection with pus cells. This is quite a painful affair in which a cavity filled with pus forms a “tumor” under the tongue in your cat.

Allergic reaction

Cats also occasionally have an allergic reaction. Especially when they have been stung by an insect they have caught, this can swell enormously under their tongue. This always occurs very suddenly. It’s a medical emergency as the “tumor” under your cat’s tongue can become so massive that it can block your cat’s airways. So go to your vet quickly if you think the swelling erupted the last couple of hours. Even if it is evenings or weekends.

Salivary gland cyst

This is a fairly rare condition in cats. This causes a swelling under the tongue (or in other places in the mouth and neck) because an outlet of a salivary gland has become blocked. The saliva is then produced but cannot reach the mouth. It accumulates and forms a bump, so a tumor under your cat’s tongue forms. In principle, this condition usually arises in young cats and often also after your cat has had a wound. For example, as a result of a fight or a collision with a vehicle.

cat sticks his tongue out because he suffers from a tumor on his tongue.

What symptoms does a cat with a swelling under its tongue have?

A cat with a tumor under its tongue may have several symptoms that point to this problem. Some typical symptoms that may occur are:

A visible swelling under your cat's tongue

Of course you can see a swelling under the tongue, but sometimes other changes in the mouth are also visible. For example, pay attention to any changes in the color or texture of the mucous membrane in the mouth. In case of inflammation it becomes very dark red and in case of a bacterial infection you often see pus. Incidentally, a real tumor can also have an inflammatory reaction on its outer edges.

Difficulty eating and drooling

A cat with a tumor under its tongue may have problems eating and chewing. He may drop his food, retch, or have a decreased appetite. Excessive drooling may also occur. This is caused by the fact that they cannot swallow the saliva (properly) as their tongue cannot move properly.

Changes in behavior and tone of voice

Cats may behave differently when they experience pain or discomfort. They may become irritable, withdraw, or have difficulty swallowing. Some cats may also show a change in their vocalization, such as a weakened meow due to your cat having a tumor under its tongue.

Weight loss and fatigue

If the tumor under the tongue interferes with the cat’s food intake, weight loss may occur. This mainly occurs with benign or malignant tumors in the mouth. In addition, the cat may show lethargy and fatigue due to pain and discomfort.

A poorly groomed coat

Because a cat can no longer use its tongue properly as a result of the growing tumor under its tongue, you can see that it will no longer take good care of its fur. The hair becomes wispy and less good quality.

It is important to note that these symptoms are not specific to a tumor or swelling under the tongue and can occur with other conditions as well. Always consult a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

How do you know what kind of tumor your cat has?

Based on age, you can already estimate whether it may be a (benign or malignant) tumor. Still, it is important that you visit a vet. He can often make a good assessment based on the appearance whether it is an inflammation, infection, salivary gland cyst or allergic reaction. Or that your cat has a tumor under its tongue.

If there is still doubt after the consultation, the advice is almost always to have your cat put under anesthesia so that they can extract some cells from the tumor under its tongue. At that moment, they can suck pus or saliva from the bump and they have a diagnosis right away. In case of inflammation or tumor, they will suggest sending the cells taken to a laboratory for a diagnosis. In some cases it is even possible to immediately remove the tumor surgically, but often it is not possible. After surgical removal, it is still advisable to have that tissue sent to you so that additional treatment in the sense of chemotherapy or radiation can be given if necessary. Your vet will discuss with you whether you want to do that and whether it makes sense to offer the tissue for examination.

Cat is drooling due to a tumor under his tongue.

Treating a cat with a tumor under the tongue

In case of an infection as the cause of a tumor under his tongue, a course of antibiotics will be prescribed, along with a painkiller. A salivary gland cyst can receive several treatments. It depends on how big, how difficult to approach and how much it bothers your cat. Often they make an opening in the cyst. Sometimes the entire cyst needs to be surgically removed. In case of a rotten tooth, the tooth will have to be removed and a dental cleaning will take place. An allergic reaction often just needs an injection of a strong anti-inflammatory to shrink the tumor under your cat’s tongue.

If there is a real tumor under your cat’s tongue, this tumor will have to be surgically removed if possible. In addition, chemotherapy or radiation will sometimes be chosen. Your vet will guide you in the options that are best for your cat. Unfortunately, I also have to mention that very many owners opt for euthanasia because of the amount of discomfort the cat suffers from it and the costs that a treatment entails.

How do you prevent a tumor under the tongue?

It is wise to have your cat thoroughly checked by your vet every year during the vaccination. He will then in any case check the teeth for excessive tartar and feel for the lymph nodes in the body, including those near the neck and jaw. These will get bigger as soon as there is a starting inflammatory reaction. By cleaning the teeth in time, the chance of tooth root problems is much smaller.

It is also important that you give your cat a high-quality diet. This ensures an optimally healthy body, which significantly reduces the risk of cancer in the entire body, including a tumor under the tongue in your cat. Unfortunately, you cannot prevent it completely. Some cats are just very unlucky. Allergic reactions or reactions to insect bites are also hardly preventable, just like a salivary gland cyst. You can often prevent abscesses by having your cat neutered, but even then a certain cat is sometimes just a fighter.

Good luck!

Hopefully this artikel has given you enough information to make a decision about your cat. We hope it was just a bee sting and will your cat be able to eat in a normal way soon. In order to help him eat you can give him wet food or even cat soup. That is wet food dilluted with water so he can just drink it. You can use the following wet food for it. It also contains a lot of energy in a small amount of food.