Conscious Cat

June 25, 2012 10 Comments

Feline acne

Posted by Ingrid


Feline acne is a common problem in cats. Cat guardians usually notice small, oily black bumps on the cat’s chin, very similar to blackheads in humans. These blackheads may become red and itchy if they get infected.


The exact cause of feline acne is not known, but it is believed that there are several contributing factors:

  • Overactive sebaceous glands
  • Stress
  • Plastic food bowls
  • Food allergies
  • Poor grooming habits


  • Small black bumps on the chin or lips
  • In advanced stages, red, swollen pustules that may bleed


Treatment depends on how severe the condition is. If symptoms are mild, gentle cleansing and a topical ointment may be all that is needed. In more advanced cases, conventional treatment may include antibiotics, topical ointments containing Benzoyl Peroxide, and steroids. In very severe cases, your veterinarian may want to sedate your cat so he can clip and clean the area thoroughly.

A holistic vet may view feline acne slightly differently. Acne, as well as other skin conditions, including allergies, are considered a symptom of systemic toxicity, and a holistic approach will look at identifying and removing the root cause of the condition, rather than just treating the symptoms. Treatment may include a systemic cleanse (do not attempt to to this without the guidance of a holistic veterinarian), homeopathic remedies, a change to a natural grain-free canned or raw diet, and appropriate supplements.


To prevent feline acne, switch to ceramic or metal bowls. Plastic bowls become porous over time and can trap bacteria. When they come in contact with your cat’s chin, acne can develop. Wash all food and water bowls in hot soapy water every day. If your cat is prone to acne, you may want to gently wash her chin with warm water after eating.

Photo by Melanie Tata, Flickr Creative Commons

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10 Responses to “Feline acne”

  1. Esme says:

    Ahh yes-another article relating to this household. My vet has suggested a once a week-spa treatment-soak a facecloth in hot water and hold it their affected area-Make sure it is not too hot -this is to open the pours. Then clean with a warm water mixture of water and Dawn dish soap.

    We can not get rid of the acne however I keep it clean. Magellan pushes his food with his chin so I do not think this helps the situation.

    • Ingrid says:

      Sounds like you have it well under control, Esme.

    • Elsie says:

      My human slaves (3 of which are vets) treat chin acne all the time! They recommend using glass or stainless steel bowls (some cats appear to have issues with some ceramic glazes). They also recommend using sensitive skin baby wipes instead of human acne products like benzoyl peroxide- it can be too harsh and actually promote acne! You don’t have to rinse after baby wipes like you do with any kind of soap. A lot of kitties seem to have chin acne secondary to mild allergies- these kitties seem to be really “oily” everywhere- chin, nail beds, ears, and coat. Sometimes a combination treatment (antibiotics and local or systemic steroids) are needed to clear up the really nasty cases!

  2. Bernadette says:

    Moses, a gray tabby, and Nikka, a dilute tortie, both had mild cases of feline acne. I have always used tempered glass bowls because I won’t eat out of plastic either, but I always wondered what might have caused this in each of them. No vets paid much attention, and I wondered if fur type could correspond with skin type and related issues, as it does with hair and humans and related issues.

  3. I have been fighting this forever! And my brofur, Orion, sometimes gets it too! Meowm is going to try some of these suggestions!


  4. Rebekah says:

    My cat got feline acne this year. She’s four years old, never had it before. It just appeared on her chin out of the blue. We’ve always used stainless steel bowls which were washed every day, etc, etc. There were no hygiene problems. And yet kitty had acne. I took her to the vet several times, he gave her a shot of an antibiotic twice which helped perfectly but only for two days or so each time. I got her glass bowls even though stainless steel should have been safe. No change. She also got prednisone in tablets which she wouldn’t eat with her regular food or pill pockets until I finally found good advice on the Internet: I crushed the pills into a little bit of Gerber baby food (chicken). It’s important to give just a little bit of baby food to make sure the cat eats it all. She loved it but two weeks on prednisone brought no results. We used On-the-spot for humans, Dawn dish soap (both vet-recommended), wiped her chin with hydrogen peroxide, went to a different vet who gave her Hexachlor-K wipes and Pyoben gel. Nothing worked. Obviously we didn’t use everything at the same time, I’m just listing all the remedies together:-) The best results brought plain simple neosporin but it only helped reduce the symptoms, didn’t cure it. My poor kitty was getting stressed by all this medicine application and her chin was not getting any better or at times it even got worse. Finally, I went to a different pet store and found “Earthbath” hypoallergenic wipes with Awapuhi. I had this idea before but all the wipes from pet stores I tried had strong fragrance – to put it mildly – which was really discouraging for the cat and didn’t do anything for her. These new wipes were fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, all natural. Came home, wiped my kitty’s chin and a few hours later there was a rather dramatic improvement. I thought I would cry, I was so happy. After 2 or 3 days acne was gone! Unbelievable. It may mean she was allergic to something or maybe her acne started because something had bitten her (she’s an indoor cat but loves to sit on the screened-in balcony)? When her acne first started she had a red bump on her chin apart from the black stuff, which did look like something had bitten her. I don’t know what had caused the acne but it did disappear. Her chin is acne-free. I think it’s different with every cat. I tried all the remedies people recommended, that worked miracles for them, and nothing of that worked for us. And then some simple wipes worked beautifully. I’m posting our story just to share what helped my cat. Maybe it will help someone else.

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