Can cats get acne?

Q: My cat Mocha has tiny black bumps on her chin, which she scratches. The itchy black bumps, which look like blackheads, recur every summer. What should I do about them?

A: It sounds like Mocha may have feline chin acne and should see her veterinarian.

Chin acne occurs when hair follicles become blocked. The result is comedones (KOE'-mee-dones), blackheads that develop on the chin and skin around the lips. If the disease worsens, the comedones become infected and fill with pus.

In cats, acne is not associated with adolescence, as it often is in humans and dogs, but occurs in adults. The cause is unknown, though many conditions are thought to play a role. These include environmental and food allergies, respiratory viruses, ringworm infection and excessive production of oily sebum by the sebaceous glands. Multiple cats in a single home may be affected, which raises the possibility of inheritance or an environmental trigger.

Feline chin acne is a chronic disease. To minimize recurrences, keep Mocha's face and chin clean. Use metal or glass food and water bowls, because plastic is porous and can retain bacteria.

Treatment may include a topical antiseptic, antiseborrheic, antibiotic, anti-fungal or anti-inflammatory. Oral or injectable medication may also be needed.

Most cats with chin acne respond well to treatment, so get started by taking Mocha to her veterinarian.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at vet@askthevet.pet

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