What Is Cat Acne?

If you’re wondering what is cat acne you’ve come to the right place. Maybe you’ve heard about it somewhere and want to know more. It’s also possible you’ve noticed odd looking spots on your cat’s chin.

In this post you’ll discover everything you need to know about cat acne including common causes, prevention, and best ways to treat it. While there are many skin problems cats can suffer from, acne is of of the least common ones.

If you’ve ever suffered from acne yourself I’m sure you can sympathise with your feline companion. Cat acne is no different, though not always caused by the same triggers.

Keep reading as I share advice and information on this uncommon but very real skin condition. Though much less common than in humans, any breed or age of cat can be predisposed.

What causes cat acne

It may seem logical that if adolescent humans get acne, your cat would be the same. However, this would rarely be the case. In fact studies have shown hormones don’t play any part in feline acne.

Instead, your cat is far more likely to develop acne through bacterial infections or allergies. For example, plastic food bowls can become a breeding ground for bacteria. In addition, it’s also possible for your cat to become allergic to some materials such as plastic.

Bacterial infections from flea bites is another possibility and one good reason to give your cat regular monthly treatments. Poor grooming can also lead to skin conditions such as cat acne.

If your cat is in her senior years it could be possible that she’s finding it harder to groom herself. Stiff, arthritic joints may make it harder for your kitty to wash herself properly.

Another possible cause of cat acne is an allergy to certain foods. However, unless you use stainless steel or ceramic bowls it’s far more likely to be the food bowl than the food itself.

If your vet has ruled out other causes he or she may suggest testing for food allergies. This would involve feeding your cat a hypoallergenic diet for a period of time.

The prescribed food would be very bland and include only natural ingredients. You can also read about best food for cats with allergies in one of my posts.

At the end of the test period if your cat’s acne improved you’d need to either continue to use the prescribed food or find something similar.

Stress and cat acne

what is cat acne and can it be caused by stress

Just as stress has physical affects on people so it does with cats as well. If your cat has suffered any obvious stress such as moving home this is something you should consider.

Could dental disease be the cause of your cat’s acne?

Dental disease could make it very uncomfortable for your cat to groom herself around the mouth and chin area. This is something many pet owners fail to recognise until it’s too late.

Your vet would most likely examine your cat’s mouth as part of determining the cause. If this does happen to be what’s causing cat acne you’ll probably be shown how to clean her teeth.

Don’t worry, this isn’t as hard as you think and could soon become part of your daily regime. In fact you can read my post on how to brush a cat’s teeth to give you some idea.

What does cat acne look like?

what does cat acne look like

The most common type of acne seen in cats is found on the chin area. If you notice clusters of black spots under your cat’s chin this is probably acne. It’s similar to blackheads commonly suffered by teenagers! However, NEVER attempt to squeeze them!

Overproduction of keratin can cause hair follicles to become blocked. In really bad cases it can result in swollen pustules, or crusty looking sores. If this is the case you’d need to see your vet urgently for treatment.

Though not life threatening it would be very sore and irritating for your poor kitty. In addition, if left it could spread to other areas.

It’s not truly understood what causes keratin to become overproductive, though excessive sebum could be a factor.

Treating your cat’s acne

Firstly, NEVER use any products designed for human use on your cat! Although the cleansing solution you bought for your own skin works wonders, it could cause your cat harm.

In some cases cat acne clears up on its own, and doesn’t need any treatment. However, if it’s more persistent or seems to be getting worse you need to consult your vet.

In many cases simply replacing plastic food bowls with stainless steel or ceramic ones is enough to get rid of cat acne. One of the main problems with plastic is it cracks easily and becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.

However, if needed, common treatments may include antibacterial washes. These will be designed especially for pet use and prescribed by your vet.

You’ll be advised how many times a day to apply the solution onto your cat’s skin, and ask questions if you’re at all worried. In addition, fatty acid supplements such as salmon fish oil are very good for the skin. You MUST only buy fish oil designed for cats or dogs though.

Again, ask your vet for advice if you’re unsure, just to be on the safe side. I’ve given my own cat salmon fish oil and mixed it in with his food.

I can only assume he didn’t smell or taste it as the food was eaten! Bear in mind though, it can take several months before you can expect to see any noticeable results.

Can you prevent cat acne?

One of the best ways to prevent your cat getting acne is by following good hygiene. Always clean water and food bowls daily. Remember, you wouldn’t want to eat YOUR dinner off a dirty plate! Either load them in the dishwasher, or soak in the sink with a few drops of washing up liquid.

Unless you know the cause there’s no way of preventing cat acne. This is why it’s always best to ask the advice of a qualified vet. In most cases it will disappear on its own and you won’t need to do anything.

Grooming your cat regularly will help spot any skin problems before they develop. In most cases, any problem your cat has can be treated if caught in its early stages.

I hope this post has answered your question “what is cat acne?” and provided you with some ideas on how to diagnose and treat it. As mentioned previously, although cats can get acne it’s not the same as that suffered by humans.

Although triggers are similar, acne in humans is usually caused by oily skin and blocked hair follicles, whereas in cats it’s more often caused by allergies or bacterial infections.

Having said that, folliculitis or inflammation of the hair follicles can result in some nasty looking sores.

If you’ve enjoyed this post and found it useful please share. Also, if you have any questions or would like to share experiences, please leave a comment below.

Wishing you a purrfect day:)

8 thoughts on “What Is Cat Acne?”

  1. Wow what a superb article on a topic that is very rarely discussed.

    I actually have a friend who has recently been complaining about her cat’s “sore spots” and she didn’t quite understand what could it be! I will send the link over.

    Extremely well written and very informative. Thank you for sharing this excellent article!

    • Hi Silvie, thank you for your comment:) Yes, I’m sure your friend will find this post valuable, but tell her to take her cat to the vet if the spots don’t clear up on their own. Thanks for stopping by:)

  2. Thanks, Kathy, this post answers exactly what cat acne is. Most importantly, it explains how to treat it and prevent it. I’m here because of the latter. Our cats didn’t have a case of acne yet, and I hope they won’t ever. I wanted to learn all that I can about this condition to be prepared if it ever occurs and to learn how to actually prevent this from happening, which is exactly what I’ve got from your post here. Thanks a lot! As always, your site was my #1 place to go when it comes to all to do with cats 🙂

    • Hi Ivan, thanks for your comment and glad it helped you understand what cat acne is. Though not very common it’s something to be aware of. Although it’s often a result of dirty food bowls, or an allergy it could also be something more serious. Good to know you often visit my site and use it as a reference. Thanks for stopping by:)

  3. Those sores do look nasty and thank you for sharing.

    One thing we do after every meal is to clean both bowls, water and food.

    You should treat your animal as you would want to be treated yourself.

    We have just had a few issues with our Siamese where she was getting these lumps on here back and were obviously sore as she wouldn’t let us brush here.

    We took her to the vet and apparently they thought it was a mite which as completely cleared after a few drops on her neck.

    • Thank you Mick, glad you enjoyed this post:) Yes, the sores certainly do look nasty, and just shows how bad cat acne can get. I’m glad you clean your cat’s bowls after they’ve finished eating, and yes, animals deserve good hygiene as well. Mites can cause some nasty skin reactions and glad the drops helped clear it up. Thanks for stopping by:)

  4. wow, those “black spots” look so so painful! poor little cat babies! I had no idea they could also develop cat acne, especially since I have always seen them groom themselves! Thank you for this very informative post. I think every pet owner must practice proper hygiene and I love how you said: you would never eat off a dirty plate so your cat doesn’t have to either. Treat your cat the same way you would treat yourself. A simple yet powerful thing to remember 🙂

    Do you think it is possible for cats to develop allergies to something they once were not allergic to (just like us humans)?

    • Hi Sasha, thank you for your comment:) Yes, absolutely, proper hygiene is just as important for our pets as it is for us. Yes, I’m sure it is possible for cats to develop allergies. Just like we can suddenly become sensitive to certain foods, so can our feline friends.


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