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Feline Acne

It sounds funny, doesn’t it? It seems rather odd to think of your cat getting acne but it’s a relatively common skin condition where tiny blackheads, pimples or crusts develop on the cat’s chin. In some cases, the comedones can be quite deep and cause significant pain to your cat when he’s touched near the chin.

Feline acne can affect cats of all ages and appears in male and female cats. So, as opposed to your teenage child, don’t just assume your cat will outgrow acne.

photo credit: Shutterstock

photo credit: Shutterstock

Causes of Feline Acne

There isn’t one definite answer but several causes could contribute to the develop of feline acne. These causes can include lack of grooming on the chin so the hair follicles become clogged due to the accumulation of dirt and oil. It may also be the result of a larger than normal amount of oil production, stress, suppressed immune system, or contact allergies. It may also develop due to constant rubbing of the chin against surfaces. Plastic food bowls may also be culprits in contributing to acne development.

photo credit: Shutterstock

photo credit: Shutterstock

Symptoms of Feline Acne

Blackheads form on the chin and give the appearance that the chin is dirty. Pimples may also be visible, burst open and form crusts on the skin. Abscesses can develop in more severe cases and the chin can become swollen, red and very sore. Crusts may bleed and hair loss may also occur.Books by Pam Johnson-BennettIt’s not uncommon for the chin area to become itchy which causes the cat to scratch at the area, creating more problems. Keep in mind that behavior changes in the cat where he no longer enjoys being petted around the head or scratched under the chin may be the result of pain from acne.

Some cats only experience feline acne once and others have ongoing problems throughout their lives.

photo credit: Shutterstock

photo credit: Shutterstock

Diagnosing Feline Acne

Other skin conditions must be ruled out. Your veterinarian may do a skin scraping to check for mites. A fungal culture or biopsy may also be needed.

Treatment of Feline Acne

First on the list is for the chin area to be cleaned with a mild benzoyl peroxide cleanser. The hair on the chin may need to be clipped as well. Most cases of mild feline acne do well with a topical treatment. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed in more serious cases.

It may also be helpful to switch from plastic food/water bowls to glass or stainless steel to prevent the bacteria build-up that can occur with plastic. Be sure you wash bowls regularly. For cats with ongoing acne problems your veterinarian may instruct you to routinely clean your cat’s chin using a warm, damp cloth and a prescribed cleanser. Do not scrub the area because you risk causing increased irritation. Warm compresses consisting of a warm, damp washcloth held to the chin for a few minutes may also be recommended by the veterinarian. After the compress, topical treatment is then used.

Once the acne has cleared up, monitor your cat regularly so you can catch the sign of any potential recurrence in the earliest stages. Keep your cat’s chin clean and free of food debris through very gentle cleaning.

photo credit: Shutterstock

photo credit: Shutterstock

Want More Information?

This article is not intended as a medical diagnosis. If you have concerns about feline acne, consult your veterinarian. Do not use any topical acne gel, shampoo or wash without your veterinarian’s approval. The topical prescriptions used for feline acne are much milder than those used for human acne. Seek your veterinarian’s advice.

For more information on cat behavior and training, refer to any of Pam’s books. These best-selling books are available through on-line retailers, at your favorite local bookstore as well as right here at our website.

Books by Pam Johnson-Bennett


One comment

  1. I had a cat that got this condition from using the Drinkwell Pet Fountain because the bowl was plastic. We stopped using the fountain and all bowls now are glass, metal or ceramic.