Feline acne: what it is and how to treat it

That cats have acne is much more common than we think. Although there are groups with a tendency to suffer it (it is more common in older cats), the truth is that it can appear at any age, in any breed of cat and both females and males.

People usually have acne associated with a hormone phase

(who has not had pimples in their teens or when they are menstruating?). Cats may also have acne, but there is no hormonal component.

What is feline acne?

Feline acne is the formation of blackheads or pimples on the cat’s skin. The most frequent place is chin and surroundings. Many times mild acne is treated that hardly requires treatment. A veterinary professional or feline dermatologist should determine the severity of each case.

In the cat’s skin, there are two types of glands (sebaceous and sweat). The sebaceous are those that produce sebum(oily secretion “lubricates” cat hairs, maintains the flexibility of the skin and protects).

These sebaceous glands are associated with hair follicles and are found on the chin, lips, the back of the tail, the eyelids, the foreskin and the scrotum of the cat.

These glands are vital in cat marking, so restrict these parts against objects, other cats, and ourselves.

When these glands produce more sebum than necessary, excess fat is rendered and clogged in the form of acne. In the areas that appear this acne (especially in the chin) begins to form a yellowish layer, in white or light-haired cats, or a black/dark layer in cats with another hair color.

Is acne in cats severe?

Whenever we see that our cat has acne, we have to go to the vet to determine the cause and severity. Sometimes acne can be a symptom of other diseases or pathologies, but many times, it is a “simple acne” that can range from mild to more complicated infections.

In most cases, the cat only has pores or pimples that can even go unnoticed. But these pores can become infected and inflamed (folliculitis); they can also form a kind of granites of pus (papules and pustules). And if it is not treated correctly, the thing can get worse and go further.

Why do cats have acne?

As I said, there is no single cause of acne, influencing many factors.

The Integrative veterinary Karen Becker says: “The exact cause of feline acne is not known, but it seems that there are several contributing factors, including hyperactive sebaceous glands and contact dermatitis or atopic dermatitis (allergy).”

The cat always rubs against people and things that can cause an infection or irritation, that is what Karen Becker defines as contact dermatitis.

And he adds: “sensitivity to food or chemical substances in the diet can be a cause, as well as reactions to certain medications, hormonal imbalances, and poor grooming habits. Acne can also be secondary to an underlying systemic condition such as a viral or fungal infection.”

Like many other authors, the doctor adds that some possible causes are that the cat has a compromised immune system and stress.

Weak cats (for example because of illness) or that are suffering from stress tend to have more acne.

In summary, the most common factors that have been seen so far in cats with acne are:

  • Stress
  • Compromised immune system
  • Poor hygiene or lack of cleanliness
  • Abnormal sebum production
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Compromised immune system
  • Poor health or lack of sanitation
  • Concurrent infection or disease
  • Abnormal sebum production
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Concurrent infection or illness

Symptoms of feline acne

The main symptom is that we can detect visually: the cat has a yellowish or blackened chin area. Sometimes we confuse it with dirt on the chin, but only if we try to clean it a little, we will see that it does not disappear so quickly.

When acne is more severe, it can also be accompanied by inflammation of the area, redness … And the cat scratches and rubs more.

In severe cases, it could affect other functions, such as decreasing your appetite and losing weight.


The feline veterinarian or dermatologist will determine which treatment should be applied in each case. Never trust a diagnosis that does not come from an excellent professional and do not meditate “for free” to your cats.

That said, the treatment will depend on the severity of the acne. In mild cases, they usually prescribe local medications (topics) and, as severity increases, baths with particular products or soaps, antibiotics, corticosteroids, etc. are also used.

It is often said that acne is not cured, but is “managed” and “controlled.” The mild treatments usually incorporate gentle washing chin with a specific soap, alcohol pharmacy, benzoyl peroxide, chlorhexidine, or other cleanser recommended by your healthcare provider.

The compresses of warm water, with salt or with infusions help to calm the acne.


As the causes of acne are so varied, it is difficult to be very farsighted, but some of the tricks that can be taken into account to avoid contact dermatitis are:

  • Keep the space clean to prevent infections
  • Use ceramic, glass or metal plates or bowls (better than plastic)
  • Clean feeders and drinkers frequently
  • Raise these plates slightly (so that the chin does not come into contact)
  • Monitor and control your diet (mainly so you don’t have an allergy)
  • Clean the cat’s chin every time he eats
  • Regularly trim the hair in the affected area

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