Acne is not only a teenage problem but a very common disease in cats. Feline Acne affects cats of various breeds and ages. It occurs in males and female cats alike. The condition can be so mild that it is hardly noticeable.
What is Feline Acne?
The sebaceous glands secrete an oily substance called sebum, which lubricates the skin and hair follicles in particular. Their function is to prevent dryness in the skin and to protect the skin's surface from irritation. The sebaceous glands are found at the bottom of the tail, the cat's back, its genital area, eyelids, lips and skin.
The sebaceous glands play an important role in cat behaviour. It is the cat's way of marking its territory or domain. If you see your cat rubbing its head or chin across a surface, it is marking its territory and over time it will leave greasy marks in those places.
Acne occurs when the sebaceous glands become blocked with a black substance that forms a blackhead and these blackheads can become infected, swollen and filled with pus.
Causes of Acne
We do not know the cause of feline acne at this point in time but we do believe that the following conditions may precipitate feline acne:
Over productive sebaceous glands
Feeding Bowls - plastic bowls can harbor bacteria that get trapped in the fibers. The bacteria will then attach to the cat's chin. Also the cat may become allergic to the plastic feeding bowl.
Poor grooming habits - If your cat tends to let itself go, get dirty and not lick its fur to groom itself, the oily sebum will accumulate.
Allergic reactions to some foods, such as wheat, fish, meat, eggs, and milk
Stress - Cats can be stressed for several reasons.
Traveling in a car, bus, or carrier
Moving into a new home
Anxiety and depression
A multi cat household
Adding a new cat to the household
New cat in the area invading territory
New family member
Visitors or guests
Confinement in a room or crate
Visits to the veterinarian
Bathing your cat
Black spots (conedomes) will appear on the chin or lips
Infection - the spots may become red, swollen and inflamed. They may also contain pus.
It is always best to seek a veterinarian's advise, incase the infection is due to some underlying undetermined cause. The veterinarian will exam your pet. He may do the following tests:
Skin Scrapings to rule out other types of infections such as dermatitis, ring worm, allergies and yeast infections
A skin biopsy
Shampoo - using a topical ingredient such as benzoyl peroxide
Antibiotic soap, or boric acid, Epsom salts or hydrogen peroxide solution
Ointments and gels
Topical Vitamin A
Oral medication - retinoid
Corticosteroids - such as prednisone to reduce inflammation
Clipping the fur around the chin where the infection has broken out
Though feline acne is not a very serious condition, the veterinarian should examine the cat to make sure its does not have anything that is more serious. You could help prevent the disease by keeping the food and water bowls clean, and making sure you are not using plastic products. You might consider cleaning your cats chin as well.