Feline Acne

Feline acne is not uncommon, and can be caused by lack of proper hygiene, hormonal imbalance or other skin or internal problems. A lot of owners don’t notice acne, as fur covers the cat’s skin; however, cats still develop acne in the face and chin area.

What Is Acne?

Acne occurs due to a production of excess sebum. Sebum is a substance produced by the sebaceous glands, and is meant to protect the skin from getting dry. The sebaceous glands are located under the hair follicles, and when there is sebum in excess, the hair follicles will be blocked and acne occurs. Acne can be accompanied by other infections that will cause redness and swelling, or possibly even bleeding.

Causes of Acne

The causes of feline acne haven’t been established, but some researchers believe it can be due to stress, inadequate grooming or hormonal imbalance that causes the sebaceous glands to be hyperactive.

Food allergies or contact allergies can also cause acne. If your cat has plastic water or food bowls, you should exchange these for ceramic or metallic materials.

Acne can also be caused by external bacteria from the food or water bowl, which can infect the face area or cause a production of excess sebum.

Symptoms of Acne

A cat with acne will have black spots, comedones, pustules or red and swollen areas in the chin and lip zone. These spots may bleed occasionally, as the cat will scratch the affected zones. The cat might also rub his face on furniture or walls and leave greasy spots.

Treatment Options

Depending on the severity of acne, a treatment can be chosen.

In light cases of acne, when the cat only has a few comedones, you can treat it with vitamin A supplements and frequent baths, to reduce the amount of sebum. Topical retinoid ointments may be needed. Corticosteroid creams can clean the area, reducing the swelling and irritation.

If the acne is spread over larger areas and the cat presents secondary infections, the treatment should start with the administration of oral antibiotics. Clip the hair in the area, to ensure that the local treatment is more effective and the area is more exposed to air. Topical ointments with benzoyl peroxide or chlorhexidine should be applied on the affected areas. Topical or oral steroids may be recommended to reduce the swelling and irritation.

Preventing Acne

  • Acne can be prevented if it's caused by food or contact allergies. Detect the food or materials that cause irritation and remove these from your cat’s environment.
  • After each meal, clean your cat’s face and chin, to remove any possible traces of fat that could cause acne.
  • Clean the food and water bowls once per day, to remove the bacteria that may be causing the occurrence of acne.
  • Try to remove any stress factors, such as schedule changes in the cat’s routine.

Feline acne is an unpleasant but treatable condition. You can take some preventive measures to ensure your cat’s skin is healthy. Groom your cat regularly and notice any early signs of acne.