Feline acne is an inflammatory condition of a cat’s chin and lips. The acne starts as a blackhead or comedone on the chin. It may then progress to red, itchy bumps that can become infected. Feline acne can occur in cats of all ages and some cases can spontaneously resolve while others require lifetime treatment. Causes for feline acne are varied, but environmental factors, food allergies, contact allergies, poor grooming, stress and rubbing have all been implicated.
Treatment for feline acne is varied and involves medical and environmental aspects. Cats displaying minor symptoms may not need any treatment if a few lesions are acceptable to the owner and the disease remains asymptomatic in the cat. Treatment usually begins with topical antibacterial soaps and medications. Mupirocin (Bactoderm) is a topical antibiotic that penetrates very well into the deep infected lesions. All topical medications must be used cautiously in cats due to propensity to cause local irritation and possible toxicity if the product is ingested. More severe cases that involve the deeper tissues may require weeks of oral antibiotics or even oral steroids to reduce the inflammation.
Environmental treatment of feline acne focuses on potential contacting agents and the stress of the pet. Most veterinarians agree that food and water bowls should be made of metal or glass. Plastic food bowls are magnets for bacteria and can cause irritation if the cat rubs on the edge. Stress-related acne can be treated by finding the source of the stress in the cat’s environment and eliminating the cause. Some pheromone-based products such as Feliway can also be used to decrease emotional stress.