The Dirt on Feline Acne

Cats can get acne?!

It’s true: Cats get acne (or would that be catne?). Feline acne usually looks like small, black, dirt-like spots on the underside of your cat’s chin or on the edge of the lips.

Your cat has sebaceous glands in these areas that help lubricate the skin and play a role in territorial marking. Just like in humans, these glands secrete oil that can block hair follicles, causing a comedone—or blackhead—on the surface of your cat’s skin. In some cases, these blocked follicles can cause discomfort and even secondary infections.
 

What causes feline acne?

Bacteria from food and water dishes can contribute to feline acne. Hyperactive sebaceous glands may also be the culprit. Just like human teenagers, adolescent cats—those between the ages of two and four—who are experiencing a hormone surge are more prone to acne. Additionally, cats under a good deal of stress can be more prone to acne. And in some instances, feline acne has been linked to allergic reactions to medications or rubber toys and dishes.
 

What can be done to treat it?

It’s a good idea to have your veterinarian take a look at your cat’s acne, even in mild cases. More serious conditions, like ringworm and skin mites, can have a similar appearance.

For severe acne cases, a prescription may be required. But for mild cases, there are a few things you can do at home:

  • Be sure to use metal food and water dishes. Plastic is porous and harbors bacteria, as do tiny cracks in ceramic dishes.
  • Be sure to clean all your metal dishes daily in hot water.
  • Apply a compress of lukewarm water and cotton balls, twice a day, to the affected area and press gently. Don’t rub the area—that will only cause further irritation.
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