Feline Acne


by Dr. Francesca Brown



What does it look like?


Most cats that have feline acne come to us because the cats owner is concerned that the cat has a dirty chin and in its early stages it looks just like that. The chin has a whole lot of black spots on it and these may also be present along the lower lip. It is easier to see in light coloured cats.


In more severe cases the acne can be a lot more severe and the chin (and sometimes the lower lip) are swollen, red and very lumpy. This represents a more severe and long standing infection.  



What causes it?


It is currently unknown what causes feline acne, however some suggestions include:

  1. Over active sebaceous glands in the chin making the skin more oily
  2. Poor grooming habits, especially where the cat is a messy eater or drinker and food or moisture sits on the skin
  3. Defects in keratin production. Keratin is the part of the skin that gives it a protective layer
  4. Some sources suggest that plastic food bowls should be avoided as they may harbour bacteria. I have not found any scientific evidence yet to support this, but it would make sense that if plastic food bowls were starting to get damaged and scratched to dispose of them anyway, as in addition to a place to harbour bacteria, plastics contain chemicals which may not be desirable either. There is also evidence to suggest that if your cat is prone to recurrent bouts of feline acne that a change to glass or ceramic bowls may be beneficial.

The change in the skin may also lead to the development of secondary infection, usually with bacteria and or yeasts. Mites can also play a part.





Your veterinarian will usually diagnose feline acne based the what the chin looks like to the naked eye. However your veterinarian may require skin scrapings to enable him or her to examine the lesions on the chin microscopically or for culture to enable identification of any infection and the likely cause.





This will depend on the severity of the cats feline acne, but it usually involves:

  1. Clipping the fur off the chin may be required in come cats, to allow more effective cleaning of the lesions. Some cats will need sedation for this to be done.
  2. Depending on the severity of the condition and the nature of the cat, the owner will be asked to clean the chin at home and administer medication.
  3. Thorough cleaning of food bowls is recommended and if you use plastic bowls a change to ceramic or glass bowls may help, especially in a cat that has recurrent bouts.
  4. If infection is present, antibiotics or anti-fungals may be prescribed. These are usually given orally.


Feline acne will take a variable time to resolve, depending on the severity in the first place. It may take several weeks to fully resolve, however once treatment is instigated it should start the road to improvement and if it doesn’t, further veterinary attention is required.





Feline acne will usually resolve fully, however recurrence in cats is very common.  This is because certain cats seem to have a predisposition to the condition.


Seek the advice of our veterinarians if you cat has feline acne, or gets recurrent bouts. 


Copyright and Disclaimer