Feline Acne

I hate to say this, but acne isn’t something that only humans can have. There is something that is called ‘feline acne’, and the name already says it. Acne… On Cats! So what is it, what causes? Suki used to have it as well — the mild version — but after we changed food and bowls the black pecks disappeared.

What is it?

You see the black peck on her chin?

Feline Acne is found on the cat’s chin and lips, and it starts as small, oily black plugs in the chin. If it doesn’t get infected — where it may turn to red and itchy bumps — it is not a health condition to worry about. Feline acne can affect cats of any age, sex or breed.

A cat has sebaceous glands, which secrete oils, like with humans. But with cats this is related to marking their territory. The sebaceous glands are mostly found in dorsal, eyelids, chin, surface of the base of the tail, lips, scrotum and prepuce and they are connected to the hair follicles. Cats with immune issues, hygiene problems or other factors can get feline acne, the follicles become blocked with black sebaceous material, causing blackheads. Feline acne may turn very serious, when the blackheads become irritated, swollen and infected, leading to pimples.

A cat with feline acne will have a lot of itching and discomfort due to the swelling and bacteria growing inside those infected glands. Another thing that can occur is secondary fungal infections.


There are many possible causes that may give your cat feline acne.

  • And on her cheek.


  • Food allergies
  • Dirty bowls / plastic bowls
    Bacteria and other dirt are attracted to plastic bowls and they work their way into scratches and nicks, infecting your cat. So it’s important to wash the water and food bowls every day.
  • Poor hygiene
  • Immune issues
  • Reactions to medicines
  • Poor grooming habits
  • Over active sebaceous glands

When you suspect your cat has feline acne you might want to take a trip to the vet, who will most likely tell you what to do next, and eventually give medicines. Never treat your cat at home with an anti-acne treatment designed for humans.

How To Prevent It?

If your cat doesn’t have feline acne yet, you want to keep it that way. How to prevent feline acne?

  • Keeping food dishes clean.
  • Keep your house clean. Hygiene is important.
  • Try to keep your cat’s stress level low.
  • Switch from plastic bowls to glass, ceramic or metal food bowls.
  • Washing the cat’s chin after eating, if it is prone to acne.

The feline acne might also be a sign that your cat is allergic to the food that you are giving him.


  • The chin and sometimes their lips have black spots (comedones) on it, which look like dirt.
  • Secondary infection may lead to¬† swollen, red, pustules, leading to bleeding due to irritation.
  • Local hair loss and redness.

Other than that feline acne can range from barely noticeable blackheads to badly inflamed and draining pustules/pimples.


A severe case of feline acne.

Feline acne can’t really be cured, but it is ‘controllable’. See your vet when you notice the first signs of feline acne. This will hopefully keep away secondary infections and make the treatment easier. It will also reduce any pain or itchy chins.

The treatment depends on how bad the acne is. Very mild cases of feline acne might not be treated by your vet. In other cases, your vet might give you antibiotics and/or other medicines to help your cat get rid of the acne and sometimes the vet might clip the fur around the chin to clean the affected area.

  • If the condition is mild, with only a few comedones, topical treatment may be all that is required. Gentle cleansing with an antibiotic soap, hydrogen peroxide, iodine (Betadine) or Epsom salts.
  • Topical Vitamin A
  • Topical retinoids
  • In more severe cases, cleansing the skin with an ointment or gel containing benzoyl peroxide or chlorhexidine may be of use.
  • Topical glucocorticoids to reduce inflammation.

Always consult your vet if you suspect your cat as feline acne.
And don’t mess around yourself.


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19 Responses to “Feline Acne”

  1. Wazeau

    Nekoka had a mild case of this, and getting rid of the plastic food dishes in favor of ceramic really helped.

      • heretherebespiders

        Yes, you’d have to scratch the chin with your fingernails, good thing kitties love that. It feels like what we called flea-dirt when I lived in Florida… Kitties shouldn’t have any crumbly lumpy bits under their fur. I did a lot of face brushing, that seemed to help Spot (as below).

  2. heretherebespiders

    I’d add another – very very weird! – cause! Spot had it as a kitten and it cleared up. No sign for years, until we got Lokii! Vet said to take away the plastic bowls, it didn’t work one bit. Spot was itchy all over, too. He’d rumple up his back fur and LEAP off my lap, then lick lick lick. He hated everyone for a while, you couldn’t touch him because it made him itch! My only remaining idea was this: my cat was allergic to my other cat! I asked the vet and he said it was possible. They licked eachother’s faces all the time, so of course Spot had Lokii spit on his chin. Eventually it stopped of its own accord, but I would be really upset and wouldn’t know what to do if it hadn’t.

  3. angelswhisper2011

    This is again a very interesting post, Dianda. I remember my mother’s cat had this and she went to the vet serveral times, but they didn’t know what is was and gave Mickey antibiotics, but that didn’t worked at all. How could it, if they didn’t even know what for they gave it!
    After this negative experiment we treated her with homeopathic remedies and the acne disappeared :)

    • Dianda

      I personally think, that if vets don’t know what it is, they should look further into it, before giving medication. Because the medication couldn’t work at all, and that would be a waste of money, and antibiotics isn’t something you just give to cats. In my opinion! Glad to know Mickey became acne-free after that!

      > Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2012 09:10:06 +0000 > To: dlvangunst@hotmail.com >


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