Last Modified on Sep 07, 2013
Feline acne, especially chin acne in cats, is fairly common and if uncomplicated is not a health condition for great concern. However, feline acne can become infected and sometimes is in a pustular form that will be irritated and repeatedly burst.
A cat's acne is a product of its sebaceous glands, which secrete oils as in humans. However, in cats this is related to marking of territory. In most cats, acne will just appear as blackheads around the chin and lips. In cats with immune issues, hygiene issues, or other secondary factors their feline acne can become more serious and result in sores, large pimples, and eventually in infections.
Natural Cures: Keeping your cat's food and water bowls cleaner may help--plastic bowls are typically dirtier than glass or metal bowls. Reducing stress levels can reduce the amount of acne. Antibiotic cleaning of the chin or affected area can reduce the amount of bacteria causing acne and infection.
Apple Cider Vinegar
[YEA] 10/23/2009: Maureen from Charlotte, Nc: "The ACV mixture (50/50 with water) cured my cat's acne."Replies
08/08/2011: Jude from Virgil, Ontario, Canada replies: "Did you rub this mixture on the acne or did you give this to your pet orally?"
[YEA] 08/05/2010: Robin from Spokane, Wa: "When we took our Diva in for such an odd malady the vet said it was cat acne. Having owned pets all my live, I was floored. I never heard of it. He told us to keep her clean but she really didn't like it. Just to do something that might help, I used baby wipes. It went away quickly. I'm not sure it matters what you clean with, just that you do. It could be that Diva is just special that way."Replies
02/25/2012: Squillions from Columbus, Oh Usa replies: "I work in a veterinary hospital and we use a marvelous vet-specific product called Vetericyn (spray) for most cuts, scrapes, abrasions and feline acne. We use it in house for all hospitalized patients who have flesh wounds. Feline acne is very common, and often caused by cats being fed from plastic or dirty dishes. Serve their food and water in glass or ceramic bowls and make sure you wash the dishes/bowls often. Look for Vetericyn on line or check with your vet to see if they carry it. It's an absolute essential in a well stocked pet first aid kit. It's relatively costly, but a little goes a long way and it's well worth the price."
[YEA] 10/02/2011: Tiffany from Rancho Cucamonga, California: "My vet game me a gel for her acne that not only didn't work, but burned her skin. His next step was steroids. Instead, I chose Red Desert Clay. Clean their face with mild soap first to completely clean the surface. I made the clay into a paste and rubbed it into her fur and skin around lips after her last feeding of the day. Leave it on all night to dry. It binds to bacteria and toxins. The next morning she had licked some of it off, but what was left had pulled the blackheads out of her skin and dried them out. I wiped them away and left her face alone for the day, then reapplied every night for a couple more nights and the blackheads were all gone! I now brush her teeth with the clay and she has no more tartar or bacteria build-up, clean breath and healthy looking gums. Also, switch her bowls to stainless steel and wash them after every feeding."
Dietary Changes, Cleansing With Colloidal Copper
[BETTER BUT NOT CURED] 05/17/2010: Emroanm from Boulder, Co: "I just wanted to share my experiences with feline acne. After MUCH experimentation we finally have it under control.
We have two cats. The eldest gets very bad cat acne (blackheads and deep, huge white cysts). We tried everything from homeopathics to topically applying castor oil, oregano oil, aloe gel, apple cider vinegar, colloidal silver, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide (which both seem to work great at first but then cause terrible rebounds), switching to metal and/or ceramic bowls... and I'm sure other things I can't think of right now.
This is what seems to work. For our older cat it is a management system that requires light cleaning most days (at least checking so any breakouts can be nipped in the bud). Our younger cat has started to have the same problem- at about the same age as the other one began to have issues. But the younger cat only needs a treatment if it flares up and then he'll be fine for quite a while (months). So, I think each cat will differ in terms of frequency of treatment.
I'll start with diet, which has helped but hasn't been a cure. I add 1/3 of a can of wet food (we like the organic kinds) to about two cups of dry food (Iams). I then add a heavy dash of turmeric and two capfuls of apple cider vinegar, 1/3 dropper of oregano oil, and the same of colloidal silver. I add a little water and mix it all up really well. This lasts two cats a few days. (And they love it!)
For breakouts we have a cleaning routine. I find it easiest to sit on the floor with my knees together and bent and feet on the floor. I put the cat face up so he's cradled in my legs (head at my knees) and I can easily hold him and his head (firmly). Even the younger scaredy-cat puts up with this once I get him situated. Then I clean the skin thoroughly with a Q-tip (or multiple Q-tips) saturated with colloidal copper. For some reason this has turned out to be the best cleanser. With the younger cat any little white cysts are easily removed with just the Q-tip. The older one sometimes needs cysts and/or blackheads expressed (popped) so that he can get back to healing. I clean it until all dirty looking crumbs/residue is gone. Then, if it's an acute attack, a dab of Neosporin antibiotic ointment rubbed in well to the fur/skin. And that's it. We tried so many natural treatments, but antibiotic ointment is what really stops bad outbreaks in their tracks.
I have also found that ingesting oils or petroleum products (as in hairball goo) definitely cause breakouts. Also, adding things like vitamin powder to the food does too (it collects under the chin and they can't clean it). We also tried adding sage extract, CoQ10, and MSM to their food at intervals which did not affect outbreaks one way or the other.
If anyone ever finds a true CURE, we'd love to hear about it! Until then this management system works pretty well for us. The older cat finally has full chin of healthy hair again and no current acne!"
12/29/2010: Avo from Toronto, Ontario Canada replies: "I have 2 cats with IBD resulting from food allergies and sensitivities. The solution was to switch to a high- protein, high quality Canned food (no grains, low carbs, no by-products, etc. ). The final solution came with a change to the type of protein they ate from chicken to turkey and rabbit. When it comes to all sorts of these "symptoms" most vets are unlikely to diagnose food allergies so try this yourself, and see. Also, I learned the hard way that cats should eat canned foods and NOT dry primarily. AND NOT that awful MediCal or Science Diet. With the high quality foods you will see a difference in their coat within a month or 2 for sure!"
[YEA] 03/28/2011: Eolra from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada replies: "I started my 3 cats on an all raw, whole ground animal diet a couple of months ago. I cannot tell you how many health issues magically cleared up - I highly reccomend giving it a try. It is surprisingly affordable (about $2 to $3 a day for all 3 cats combined). It may take a while for your cats to warm up to it, since they are used to the canned stuff, but they will eventually eat it happily - you can wean them onto it by mixing it with regular food at first. All 3 have lost weight (they were obese), have softer coats, shed less, and have brighter eyes and more energy. My chronic puker has stopped puking, and my cat who had chronic eye and nose goo since kittenhood is suddenly goo free. The difference in the litterbox is also night and day - less poo, less goopy, less smelly. Give it a shot and see if your cat's skin problems clear up. I can't say enough about this diet."
[NAY] 02/28/2012: Ll from Exeter, Nh replies: "Our snowshoes have been on organic raw diet (w/bones & organs), chicken, beef, rabbit, goat, lamb, etc. , as well as daily doses of L-Lysine since kittens; they are both a year old now. They always eat out of clean stainless bowls. The male recently started to present acne symptoms. Not just the "dirty chin" but I can feel blemishes (?) thru his thick fur on his neck & chest. He also seems to be irritated by something on the backs of hind legs. Would like to shave the fur so I can get a better look at what's bothering him."
Food and Water Bowls
[YEA] 07/11/2009: Nell from Sydney, NSW, Australia: "Kitty Acne & Stainless steel bowl: I just happened to notice Kitty didn't have the usual black spot of acne last week then read the washing the metal bowl more frequently suggestion (thanks for that) which I coincidentally had just started do in hot water every day when I changed her water and I realised that that is what has solved the problem. I had previously tried Cetaphil and Peroxide mixed together because that was all I could find on the net before I found this amazing website!! Kitty licked that off and hated it plus once I purchased Cetaphil I realised it contains sodium laurel sulphate so is best avoided. What a simple solution to such a horrid little problem."
[YEA] 07/06/2009: Carrie from Jacksonville, FL: "About two years ago I noticed black stuff all over my cats chin. It was pretty gross, and some of it looked like white heads. I thought I was crazy until I took him to the vet and they confirmed cat acne! I couldn't believe it! The vet prescribed an ointment but it didn't do much to help my cat. But they also told me to about cleaning his food and water bowls. Now, I give my cat fresh water almost everyday, if not every other day. Everytime I pick up his water bowl to refill it, I give it a quick scrub. His acne has cleared up and hasn't come back ever since. I also wash his food bowl, but not as often as his water bowl. It was that simple!"
[YEA] 01/21/2009: Carol from Asheville, NC: "Stainless Steel Food and Water Bowls for feline acne
My cat developed feline acne (which looked like black dots under her chin). The ointment from the vet didn't help, plus she would clean it off as soon as I put it on. I began swapping out her stainless steel food bowl and water bowl once a week with freshly washed stainless steel bowls. She hasn't had a recurrence since that time, and it's been a few years."
01/21/2009: Andrea from Ontario, Canada replies: "My cat had a black spot on his chin and the vet told me it was acne. I laughed so hard as I have never heard of acne on a cat before and I've had cats all my life. Your info on the stainless steel bowl is enlightening as he drinks water from a stainless steel bowl. I will certainly make sure to keep it cleaner from now on, Thanks!"
Hydrogen Peroxide, Iodine
[YEA] 07/25/2008: Vera from Beulah, CO: "Would you please add feline acne to the list of pet ailments?
Here is the remedy:
In the morning, I cleaned my cat's chin with a cotton square soaked in 3% hydrogen peroxide. He did not seem to mind much at all, and there were no residues to worry about. At night (or sometimes right after), I treated the sores with 2% iodine tincture (the yellow kind), then rubbed it in with my finger so he would not lick it. He liked this less than the peroxide, but all in all, it was a trouble-free treatment, easy on us both. There was a visible improvement within days. In 2-3 weeks, he was completely cured. It recurred a month or two later; I started treatment right away, it disappeared in several days, and he has been free of it for over 2 years. (Be sure to also switch to clean ceramic or metal cat dishes, the plastic kind harbor bacteria.)
EC: Thanks, Vera -- new page created!
[YEA] 11/16/2009: Mariais from Gf, Mt, USA: "Calmoseptine cured my kitty's whiteheads/sore on his anus
My kitty, who is 6 months old, had multiple whiteheads, pimple-like, on his anus, which in a matter of days would develop into painful sores that would scab. Pet store people said it was related to his backed up anal glands. I expressed them and gave him 1/4 cup pumpkin or other squash daily, but he would keep getting the pimples even though his glands were empty. Then I decided to treat his butt issue like a rash and applied a tiny dollop of Calmoseptine with the tip of my finger. I made sure I applied when he was tired and was going to go to bed for several hrs. In a matter of days, I realized this was working like a charm: no new pimply whiteheads anymore. Thank goodness. I am now a proud mommy of a healthy kitty again.
By the way, Calmoseptine is not available anywhere, I could find mine only at CVS. it's under $10. I got samples of it when i was in nursing school and was pretty impressed with its results when i really needed it one time. I tried all kinds of things on kitty's butt including washing his anal area with soap and water, but the pimples kept coming back.
In my opinion, the pimples were directly related to backed up glands, but introducing more fiber in his diet was not enough to reverse the symptoms. This infection must be caused by a bug that is deeper in the anus skin, and was not affected by much else."
Over the Counter
01/01/2013: T. L. from Wytheville, Virginia Usa: "I have a cat with acne. Hers was hidden under heavy fur and became infected. After antibiotics and cortisone pills, she still itches and scratches, leaving her chin raw. I am trying a spray called Vetericyn that is safe, not painful when applied and is supposed to be very effective. Has anyone else tried it? My spray bottle came from Petco for $34... But it will be worth it if it is effective!"
Warm Water Chin Rub
[YEA] 07/22/2013: Mike from Sewell, Nj, Usa: "Pets/feline_acne
One of my cats is very prone to chin acne. It never got beyond a mild case of black specks around her chin and along the jaws near the lips but that may be because I keep on top of it. After speaking to our vet, I soak/wipe the area with witch hazel on a paper towel at least once a day - more if it starts to act up.
When she developed a cyst (fluid filled swelling) on her chin, I treated it several times a day with a towel and very warm water. The cyst finally went away (either naturally or due to my treatments or both) but I noticed her acne was under control without the witch hazel. Since then, I have been using nothing more than warm water and a towel once or twice a day and the acne is under complete control. I'm thinking the warm water and rubbing keeps the oils off and the pores clean. If cats have pores, that is. Not only is plain water better than any chemical, but she enjoys the warm chin rub very much.
Start with very warm water in a small bowl and dip the end of a small towel. Wring it out a little and wet the affected areas. Start with the towel fairly wet since it is difficult to saturate the fur down to the skin. Rub all around and back and forth, not just with the fur. Keep dipping and wringing the towel so it remains warm and on the very damp side. Continue for at least five minutes. Repeat as many times a day as necessary. I started with four or five and now do just twice or once to keep her completely acne free.
By the way - I switched from plastic to ceramic bowls long ago, but this didn't seem to make any difference in her case."Replies
09/07/2013: Joan from New York replies: "Our vet told me that ceramic isn't good either. The glaze can cause chin problems. Also tiny cracks in the glaze can trap bacteria. Recommended stainless or glass."