Feline Acne: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

If your cat has a lot of pimples on her chin and lower lip, she may be suffering from feline acne. The form of acne can be more or less severe. Find out how to help clean your kitten’s skin.

If your cat has small spots that look like blackheads under their chin or around their mouth, they may have cat acne. There are several treatments that can be used to treat cat disease, including topical ointments, oral medications, and lifestyle changes

The cat has sebaceous glands associated with hair follicles. These glands produce sebum which helps moisturize the skin and form a protection. When these sebaceous glands are inflamed, they produce too much sebum and it builds up in the hair follicle and mouth. 

Causes of chin acne in cats?

Several factors are responsible for chin acne in cats:

  • We often talk about plastic bowls: plastic is a porous material: bacteria easily settle in the plastic and can contaminate the chin that the cat puts on the edge of the bowl. There is therefore a bacterial contamination. These bacteria can also come from the cat’s saliva, especially if it has tartar.
  • An allergy
  • Immunosuppression (the immune system is no longer effective and no longer prevents bacteria from multiplying)
  • A lack of local hygiene if the cat does not take a good bath
  • Local bacterial contamination or proliferation of Malassezia fungi
  • Excessive chin rubbing to mark his territory. This marking is most often accentuated during times of cat stress and this causes local irritation.

Sometimes it can be the combination of all these factors, sometimes we cannot determine the precise cause and is therefore recognized as idiopathic feline acne.

Symptoms of Feline Acne

If your cat is noticed to have itching, oozing, or even swelling of the chin and / or lower lip, he should be consulted without delay, even if only for any mild symptoms.

Acne can be complicated by a severe bacterial infection that can become much more difficult and take a long time to heal. The skin symptoms are unequivocal, there are many black points (the famous “black points”: accumulation of sebum inside the sebaceous glands).

During the strong bacterial infection, we can observe, pustules or bubbles with blood flow or with the presence of pus and also notice a swelling of the affected area.

Other skin diseases can have similar symptoms: malassiosis (skin infection with yeast of the genus Malassezia), ringworm, feline demodicosis (due to a parasitic mite of the hair follicles), contact allergy or skin injury. Only the veterinarian is able to distinguish these different pathologies, possibly performing other complementary tests such as:

  • cytological and microscopic examination
  • a skin biopsy (in less clear cases)
  • a histological examination.


The diagnosis is not obvious because the clinical symptoms of acne may be close to those of other conditions. The vet must first rule out other diseases such as ringworm, scabies, a flea bite allergy, other dermatitis, fungus, etc. He will scrape a layer of skin to analyze it and highlight the presence of bacteria and in the meantime he will also do an examination of the cat’s coat.

Feline acne treatment

Feline acne in its mild form is generally well controlled , but relapses are possible. For treatment, you should consider removing the plastic bowl for cat allergy, which can cause acne. For food and water, choose ceramic bowls and clean them daily.

In addition, the vet will prescribe a disinfectant and possibly an anti-seborrheic shampoo. Local ointment or lotion containing an anti-inflammatory and an antibiotic will need to be applied if there is pyoderma. If an infection with pustules and leaking pus is detected, systemic antibiotic therapy is required.

Treatment of severe form of feline acne

If your cat is suffering from acute acne , previous treatments will be necessary but will need to be supplemented with synthetic steroids and retinoids to avoid blackhead formation.

Can there be relapses?

Yes, indeed, it seems that acne is the consequence of an allergic reaction without us being able to precisely define the allergen involved. This condition can therefore be recurrent or even stronger, depending on the season. Take preventative action by wiping his chin immediately after meals. Focusing on your cat’s dry foods and treating him regularly against fleas.

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