Feline Acne- What it is and How to Treat it

Published: 22nd September 2009
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You may not realize this but cats can suffer from acne as well as humans, and feline acne is actually fairly common. It is caused when the hair follicles become blocked and debris accumulates, causing spots resembling blackheads to develop. These are found primarily on the cat's chin and lips- your cat's chin may appear 'dirty' or you may notice black specks resembling fleas or flea dirt. Sometimes these can become infected and pustules or even lesions can develop. This can cause itchiness, so your cat may scratch the area causing further trauma.

The exact causes of feline acne is not known but are thought to include;

Over active sebaceous glands- the sebaceous glands secrete oils (Sebum) to lubricate the skin. Feline acne can be caused if excessive oils are produced, as this blocks the follicles.

Poor grooming, especially as your cat ages and is less able to groom herself properly.


Some plastics used in making food bowls can cause skin allergies.

Some cat breeds with flatter faces, such as Persian cats, can have a hereditary skin disorder causing greasy black head forming debris in the folds of their faces.

Feline acne can occur in cats of all ages and affects both male and female cats equally. It can either be a recurrent condition or affect your cat only once or twice during the course of her life.

How to Treat Feline Acne

If you suspect that your cat may have acne, consult your vet to rule out other possible causes, such as mites. Feline acne may not be fully curable but can easily be managed with your vet's help.

Don't be tempted to try to squeeze the blackheads or pustules, as this can be very painful for your cat, and could spread infection. Also, don't try to treat your cat with acne products developed for humans.

Provide your cat with porcelain or stainless steel food and water bowls to avoid plastics allergy.

Many cases of feline acne can be managed with gentle regular cleansing or the affected area with iodine, Epsom salts or special cleaning agents. It is advisable to wipe your cat's chin after eating, especially if she is a messy eater.

A 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar applied to your cat's chin with cotton wool twice a day should help to dry excess oils from the affected area.

Try adding essential Omega-3 Fatty Acids to your cat's food each day, or fish oils.

If the acne is persistent, then your vet may prescribe Benzyl Peroxide based solutions to clean the area and eliminate excess oils.

Oral glucocorticoids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation, and antibiotics may be required to treat any infection.

You may need to keep the fur around your cat's chin clipped to enable regular cleaning. Your vet may want to take a biopsy sample of the affected area if the acne is unresponsive. With a little effort, however, most cases of feline acne can be managed effectively.

Visit my blog, Cat Advice, for more tips and advice on Cat Health, Cat Behavior and much more!

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