Just when you thought the life of a cat couldn’t be beat—permission to sleep all day, groom at their leisure, and get high on catnip—we’re here to throw you a curveball: Did you know that many cats suffer from feline acne? Check out our tips on how to spot, treat, and prevent feline acne below.
What is feline acne?
Acne in cat arises when hair follicles become clogged with oil from the sebaceous glands. This almost always occurs on a cat’s chin or around the mouth. Some cats may experience chin acne once in a lifetime, while others have it continuously. Long-haired cat breeds such as Persians may be more likely to have chin acne.
How to spot it
When your cat is relaxed, tilt his face up or gently scratch under his chin so that he lifts it. At first glance, your cat’s chin may appear “dirty,” as if spotted with tiny black dots between the chin hairs. Just like in humans, feline acne may present as blackheads or whiteheads. In more serious cases, PetMD reports that your cat may develop nodules, bleeding crusts, pustules, hair loss, a severe redness of the skin, and be in pain—which can indicate boils and/or a bacterial infection.
What causes feline acne?
To most of us, acne seems like a painfully human affliction. So why do cats get it? Veterinarians have identified some common causes of feline acne, including the following:
- Bacterial overload from dirty food bowls and/or water bowls
- Poor grooming
- Food allergies
- Abnormal sebaceous glands
- Suppressed immune system
- Contact sensitivity/dermatitis
How to treat and prevent feline acne
Clean your cat’s food and water bowls—and stop using plastic bowls
As Dr. Justine Lee explains in the video above, one of the most common causes for feline acne is the bacterial overload found in your cat’s plastic food and water bowls. Switch to glass or ceramic dishes. You might also consider raising the bowls so that the fur on your cat’s chin doesn’t come in contact with the food and water. Keep in mind, too, that bacteria can still flourish in non-plastic bowls—so make sure to regularly clean your cat’s dishes, as you would your own.
Consider DIY treatments
Gently wash your cat’s chin once or twice daily with a mild soap or other cleanser—such as good ol’ Stridex pads—recommended by your veterinarian. Dr. Lee also swears by the home remedy of witch hazel. Simply dampen cotton balls with the herb and apply topically 1-2 times a day.
Vary your cat’s diet
Your cat may be experiencing breakouts due to food allergies, such as wheat, dairy, or certain protein sources. Purchase sample sizes of different kibbles and wet food brands to find out if one particular ingredient is causing the acne.
Visit the vet for stronger treatment
Never use prescription-strength acne medications for humans on your cat. If a case of feline acne can’t be cleared up with the home remedies mentioned above, you’ll want to make an appointment with your veterinarian for further treatment options. Your vet may need to prescribe antibiotics or medicated wipes and shampoos.
Feline acne doesn’t have to be as stressful an ordeal as, say, when you experienced breakouts as a teenager. Although it can be uncomfortable for your cat, you’ll often find that DIY treatments take care of the issue. When in doubt, seek veterinary help.