I had no idea this was cat ACNE. Or that cats could even have ACNE.
There wasn’t much. It really just looked like her chin was dirty. Nothing more.
But (I’m guessamating) about a month later I noticed that there was more “dirt” than before. And I could feel little lumps as well.
So that’s when I started searching online what was going on with my cat.
When I figured out what it was, I also visited my vet and asked a few of my cat owner friends.
This article is a culmination of everything I’ve learned about (what I now know is) “Cat ACNE” and all the problems, and solutions that come with it.
If you have any additional input, let me know! I’ll definitely include it as I want this article to help as many people as possible!
What's in this article
Feline ACNE is just like any other type of ACNE you’d find on a human. Even the causes and effects of it are similar. But the treatments aren’t, so don’t start thinking about using Stridex or something like that on your kitty!
The strange thing about cat acne is that it only shows under your cat’s chin. No where else.
And there can be many different symptoms like comedones (black heads), papules (little red bumps), crusts, scabs, pustules (white heads) and even hair loss.
Another stranger fact is that your cat can get this, and only show symptoms once during its entire life.
Or they can have it and also have serious symptoms for their entire life.
Or somewhere in between. It’s totally random. Even veterinarians aren’t positive about the causes.
Cat chin acne can appear as early as six months of age. It may be a life long problem for your pet.
But don’t get too worried. This disease isn’t really life threatening, but it is very common.
What causes cat acne?
The outer “keratinized” skin layers, oil glands, and possibly the local immune system are involved. However, hormones are not a factor, as they are in dogs.
Both female and male cats of any breed can develop acne and the severity of the acne will vary from cat to cat.
Your cat’s sebaceous glands produce an oil (sebum). It waterproofs your cat’s fur, lubricates the skin and is also used for territorial marking.
Although researchers have not yet determined the exact cause, it has been suggested that overactive sebaceous glands play a key role in the development of feline acne.
If too much sebum is produced, hair follicles can become plugged and the comedomes will appear.
Some of the many other factors that can also play a role in Feline Acne:
- Dirty chins (cats usually don’t clean under their chins when grooming)
- Plastic and/or metal food dishes – Trying using a porcelain dish, just like the ones you probably eat off, to feed your cat. Plastics contain harmful and sometimes toxic chemicals that can leach off into foods and trigger problems or allergies in animals. (You too!)
- Sickness – When your cat is already sick, small things can become big. Mange, yeast, ringworm, and bacterial infections can be secondary invaders and complicate your pet’s condition.
- Existing allergies – If your pet already has allergies, then the chances are their immune system is already working hard. So extra stress of any kind can allow your cat’s acne to take hold or even get worse.
- An already weakened immune system has many negative impacts, including having something small like acne become something serious like painful swelling under the chin resulting from the original acne.
- Stress or a change in your cat’s environment – Just like people, stress can really do damage. It weakens your immune system among a host of other complications.
- Just think, have you moved recently? Moved where your cat eats? Their litter pan? Made any changes to their cat food? A new family member? A new pet? All of these can complicate cat acne.
How is cat acne diagnosed?
Your veterinarian can often make a diagnosis based on a physical examination.
This is usually your vet scraping a culture from the area to make sure there is no other fungal infections present.
There are several other medical conditions that can easily be confused with feline acne, such as ringworm (which is actually a fungal infection), yeast infections or food allergies.
Your veterinarian may perform skin scrapings, cultures and biopsies to rule out the existence of other medical problems.
Feline acne treatment
… a mild anti-bacterial soap
… a benzyl peroxide based shampoo, oil or ointments
… chlorhexidine, a disinfecting agent available in an ointment, shampoo and a scrub
… A newer, additional treatment is a spot-on medication called Allerderm intended to replenish skin lipids.
These help control the formation of comedomes and levels of bacteria.
Don’t use human medications to treat feline acne unless advised to do so by your vet.
In severe cases, cat acne treatments become more complex.
Antibiotics, anti fungal therapy (if a secondary yeast infection is present), retinoids or steroids are some of the remedies your vet may prescribe.
How to help prevent cat acne
… Make sure the chin area is always clean. Due to its position, this area is hard for a cat to keep clean, and at the same time is where remnants of liquids being drunk and food debris can build up. Use a warm (not hot!) washcloth to clean the area once a day. Or after your kitty has eaten or taken a drink.
…Always use glass, steel or porcelain dishes for water and food. Your cat may be allergic to the chemicals found in plastic bowls or even the dyes used to color the plastic. Furthermore, bowls made of PVC can cause cancer as in humans.
… When placing your bowl, keep it off the ground about 4 to 6 inches and use a shallower bowl so they don’t need to place their heads deeply into the bowl to drink or eat which may cause damage to their whiskers too!
… If you have a long hair cat, it can be helpful to trim the hair under its chin allowing for easier cleaning and less hair for food and water to get trapped in.
… Changing foods to a food that is less messy.
… Ensure your cat’s diet includes essential fatty acid supplements to help maintain healthy skin.
If you try a few of the things I’ve mentioned in this article and your cat is still showing signs of ACNE, or it’s is getting worse rather than better, it’s time to take your cat to the veterinarian.
Like I said before, this is not a serious thing unless it is left untreated and gets worse. Then like any infection, serious problems can arise.
What do you think about feline acne? Comment below!