Acne appears most commonly on your cat’s chin, and may appear on the lower and upper lips. Many of us humans have suffered from acne and feline acne is surprisingly similar. Both male and female cats can develop acne, and like humans, not all cats develop acne.
Feline acne is caused by excess keratin build up (keratin is a protein in the outer skin layer.) In other words, cats get acne because there is an excess of oil built up in their skin, which is similar to human acne. This excess oil results in blackheads, which can turn into pimples. The blackheads might make your cat’s chin appear “dirty.” If the blackheads don’t flare into pimples and don’t seem to cause your cat discomfort, you may not need to take any action.
Veterinarians have found an odd association between colored, plastic food dishes and acne in cats. The cause of this correlation is likely allergies to plastics or dyes. Switching to a ceramic, glass, or stainless steel food dish has been shown to prevent acne in cats.
Stress can contribute to your cat’s acne (sound familiar?) Also, your cat’s grooming habits may not sufficiently remove the excess oils produced by their skin. If you notice acne on your cat’s face, consult your veterinarian, who can offer a variety of solutions.
The vet can prescribe a benzoyl peroxide solution or an antiseborrheic (anti-oil) shampoo. It is not a good idea to use benzoyl peroxide medication formulated for humans on your cat because the concentration of benzoyl peroxide may be too strong for their skin. If your cat is prone to acne, cleaning their chin often can help to reduce the problem.
Your vet may also provide you with an Omega 3 fatty acid supplement, as it has been shown to improve acne in cats. If needed, the vet can also prescribe antibiotics to clear up lingering infections in severe cases of feline acne.
Acne can’t be cured, but hopefully you can find a treatment for your furry friend that helps!
Jennifer Kean is a writer and pet-lover who owns two rescue kittens (lifetime cat owner too!) and has a 40 gallon fish tank!