Feline acne is a form of acne which occurs in some cats; dogs can also get their own version, known as canine acne. Just like human acne, feline acne has a variety of causes and treatment options, and it may appear only once, or it may plague a cat for life. Because some more serious health conditions can be mistaken for acne, it is a good idea to take a cat to the vet to rule these conditions out if the acne seems especially bad, or it doesn't go away after home treatment.
In feline acne, blackheads form under the chin, and in Persian cats, they may also appear in the folds of the face, especially around the eyes. At first glance, a cat with acne may simply appear to have a dirty chin, with chunks of black material clinging around the chin and sometimes the lips as well. The formal term for these blackheads is “comedomes,” and they are caused by a buildup of oils in the follicles and pores.
In a mild case of acne, the comedomes may go away on their own, but sometimes they can become infected, cracking, splitting, and causing open sores to appear. The chin area may be swollen and tender, and the cat may claw at it in an attempt to cope with the itching associated with the condition. The cat's efforts may cause a deeper infection to emerge, causing even more pain and making the condition more difficult to treat.
A number of things are linked to feline acne, including stress, poor grooming habits, dermatitis, simple overproduction of oil, and plastic water dishes, which can harbor bacteria. The best treatment for feline acne is a gentle antibacterial wash, which will keep the skin clean while removing the comedomes. The condition should clear up within a few days; if it doesn't, the cat may have a more serious problem.
In the case of acne which has become infected, it's a good idea to go to a vet. The vet can prescribe steroids to treat the inflammation and infection, reducing the cat's pain and itchiness and alleviating the condition quickly. If a cat experiences recurring acne, the vet may also recommend the regular use of a topical wash to keep the cat's chin free of bacteria and grease, with the goal of preventing another acne outbreak.