We might not have to worry about a prom night disaster, but us cats get embarrassing pimples, too! This week I wanted to talk about cat acne and what our owners can do to help our breakouts.
If you’re a cat owner you may have seen your cat rubbing its chin and face on various objects and people. This behavior is territorial marking, which may also be a sign of affection and “ownership”. The sebaceous glands are instrumental in territorial marking. Over time this rubbing behavior can leave grimy patches on frequently visited areas thanks to the sebum, an oily substance secreted by these glands to protect the skin.
What is cat acne?
Feline acne is a problem that occurs in both male and female cats of all ages. Blackheads, tiny bumps or pimples are found on the chin and lips but sometimes goes unnoticed if covered by enough hair. However, if hair follicles get blocked with the black oily substance, it can result in blackheads. The chin then becomes irritated, infected, swollen, and can bleed. Your cat ,might rub his face on furniture or walls and leave greasy spots.
What is the cause of cat acne?
The exact cause of feline acne is still unknown but there are several factors that may contribute to the condition. Factors include poor grooming habits, a compromised immune system, stress, other medical conditions, contact dermatitis, allergies, or skin diseases causing the production of excess oil. Veterinarians suspect that plastic feeding dishes might be one of the culprits since plastic is porous and trap bacteria. Cats will rest their chins on the bowls while eating and drinking causing bacteria to get trapped in the skin and create acne.
How is cat acne diagnosed?
To rule out other similar lesions that can appear on the cat’s skin such as yeast, mites, mange, allergies, fungal infection, or skin tumors, your veterinarian may perform skin scrapings or in rare cases, a skin biopsy.
How is cat acne treated?
Symptoms of feline acne can be controlled but there is currently no actual “cure”. Mild cases may only require treatment with a mild topical ointment along with gentle cleansing of the skin with an antibacterial soap. With more severe cases, cleansing the skin with an ointment containing benzoyl peroxide, or chlorhexidine may be advised. The veterinarian may shave the fur on the cat’s chin, allowing a more thorough cleaning of the area, prescribe oral antibiotics and oral steroids to reduce inflammation.
How can I prevent cat acne?
There are a few things cat owners can do to help prevent feline acne.
- Thoroughly wash all food and water dishes daily.
- Switch food and water dishes from plastic to ceramic, glass, or metal bowls.
- Gently was your cat’s chin after meals.
- Use shallow dishes.