Ask Dr. Candy - Feline Acne

Question: "What are those sores and bumps on my cat’s chin?" ~Betina Baker and Oliver

Answer: Hi Betina and Oliver!

     Thanks so much for your questions.  Those clusters of little bumps are pimples.  By medical terminology we would call this feline acne.  Feline acne is a common occurrence in house cats, but sometimes it can be challenging to make it go away.  Also, I have seen some severe cases that require sedation and antiseptic flushing, so it's great that you caught this early.  There are lots of holistic ways to clear this up.  

bumps on cat's chin

What is Feline Acne? 

    Feline acne is small areas of superficial infection in the skin. Just like pimples or blackheads in people.  Most of the time these small sores occur on a cat’s chin. 

What Causes Feline Acne? 

     Feline acne is most commonly caused by an oily buildup on plastic food bowls. The thin oily build up is hard to see but it is easy to clean.  For most of my patients I recommend switching to stainless steel bowls and a stainless steel water fountain. These are easier to clean and don't contain BPA or other plastic chemicals. Clean your pet’s bowls at least once a week. Wash with hot soapy water and then rinse well. As an alternative, you can also run the bowls thru the dishwasher.

 what is feline acne

How Do Conventional Veterinarians Treat Feline Acne? 

     Most conventional vets treat these superficial infections with oral antibiotics, topical antibacterial ointments, anti-inflammatories, and harsh surgical antiseptics. I have found that these strong chemicals can be very drying, irritating to the healing skin, and not so pleasant for the cat.  I prefer to use holistic healing methods. 

How Can I Treat Feline Acne Naturally? 

     Holistic healing works just as effectively without irritating your cat’s skin or killing helpful bacteria in their body. 

Alternative Treatments Include: 

Calendula cream - This herbal cream removes inflammation and infection topically. Apply once a day. 

Colloidal Silver Cream - Colloidal Silver works great to fight superficial infections and soothe skin. Apply twice a day. 

Witch Hazel - Liquid or Cream - Relieves mild irritation, inflammation, encourages healing, keeps area hydrated, and kills the bacteria in pimples. Apply once a day. 

Coconut Oil  - Naturally antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. Reduces inflammation. Apply once a day after gently wiping clean with warm water on a clean paper towel. 

Sunlight - When dogs and cats bask in the sun they gain natural health benefits. Sun rays, UVA / UVB, naturally kill some types of skin bacteria. It improves circulation and also reduces stress hormones. You can place a shelf, hammock, or bed by a sunny window and watch them enjoy the sunshine. 

Low-Level Laser Therapy - Low-Level Laser Therapy, aka LLLT, heals acne in a similar manner as sunlight (see above). Energy waves from the visible light, infrared, and far-infrared spectrums penetrate tissues and give cells the energy they need to repair, restore, and fight off bacteria. It improves blood flow, oxygen, nutrients, and immune system cells.  Click here to learn more about laser therapy in cats.  Do one treatment a day for about 3 minutes and be sure not to get any light in your or your cat’s eyes. 

Essential Oils - Essential oils ARE safe to use in cats if you choose the appropriate oils. Tons of essential oils have long lasting antibacterial activity and simultaneously soothe skin. You want only the highest quality oils designed for cats. I recommend this trusted, veterinarian formulated AnimalEO

Homeopathic Remedies - I have also successfully used homeopathic treatments to heal skin infections in cats.  The first few times I tried I was amazed by the quick and easy results. I see the best results with Rhus Tox or a blend by HomeoPet called Skin and Itch.

Immune Boosting Supplements - It’s easy to boost your cat’s immune system with super foods. Nutrition with the right vitamins and minerals can help your cat clear infections, stay healthy, and remain strong. My favorite supplement in these kitty situations is Standard Process Feline Immune Support. Give 1/2 tablet twice daily with food for one week and then bump it up to 1 tablet twice a day.  If you cat does not want take the tablets, I find that some owners have an easier time administering the Standard Process Canine Immune Support, since it is in powder form. The canine version is safe for cats too.  Sprinkle ½ scoop on food twice a day for one week, and then bump it up to one whole scoop per meal twice a day. 

CBD Oil - Active phytochemicals in organic hemp oil derived CBD oils can reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, and balance stress hormones.  In any cat that may be affected by stress or fear, I always recommend adding organic full spectrum hemp extract CBD supplement. Here is the one I use.

There are countless of natural ways to treat feline acne, but these are just a few of my tried and true favorites. Most families see significant improvement within a week. 

Feline Acne Treatments

How to Prevent Feline Acne

     It's easy to prevent flare ups of feline acne once the infection is gone and bowl cleaning becomes routine. If your cat’s chin doesn’t get better - take kitty to your holistic veterinarian for further evaluation.  You can also try a new food or differently shaped bowls. 

     It's important to remember that long-term or chronic feline acne is not normal and may be a clue displaying the status of your pet’s immune system.