Feline Chin Acne: Does Your Cat Have It?

As a foster for hundreds of cats and kittens over a period of more than five years, I learned a great deal about a lot of diseases and ailments. One I had not heard of prior to fostering was feline chin acne.

I was fostering my now adopted cat, Ocean, who was frequently scratching at his chin. When I looked closely, it seemed very dirty so I tried to clean it with a wet paper towel. I thought it was dried on food. A few specks came off but most of the black spots remained. Some even started to bleed a little. The area seemed greasy. I told the medical director for the rescue about it and was told it was probably chin acne, also called feline acne or kitty acne.

Feline chin acne is a fairly common condition in cats. It can effect any cat regardless of age, sex, or breed. Learn the symptoms and treatment.

What is Feline Chin Acne?

Feline chin acne is a fairly common condition in cats. It can be a one time occurrence, come and go, or be a chronic, difficult to treat condition. It can effect either sex of any breed at any age, although some sources say it is more common between 2-4 years of age due to hormones.

The chin of a cat has lots of sebaceous (oil) glands that connect to the hair follicles. These glands get plugged up with oil and form blackheads. In some cases, the blackheads can turn to pimples and eventually abscesses that rupture. Secondary bacterial infections are common at that point.

What Causes Chin Acne?

The exact cause of chin acne in cats is unknown but some of the factors may include:

  • hyperactive sebaceous glands
  • poor grooming habits
  • sensitivity to food or chemicals in the diet
  • compromised immune system
  • stress
  • contact or atopic dermatitis (allergies)
  • hormone imbalances

How is Feline Chin Acne Treated?

There are some conditions like mange, yeast infections and ringworm that look similar to feline chin acne. Skin scrapings may be necessary to rule these conditions out.

Mild cases of blackheads may only need to be disinfected with Betadine or cleaned with a gentle soap. My veterinarian also told me the area could be dabbed with witch hazel or hydrogen peroxide once a week or so.

You need to keep an eye on the blackheads to make sure the condition is not progressing to a more serious stage when bacterial infection becomes a concern. Severe cases might require antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and other medications.

Speaking of bacterial infection, it was once thought that plastic food dishes could be a cause of chin acne. However, it is now thought that the bacteria on the plastic dishes is the culprit and not the plastic itself. Since it is porous, plastic is very hard to disinfect so glass or stainless steel feeding dishes are a better choice.

Does a Dish Really Make a Difference?

A while back, I received a Dr. Catsby’s Bowl for Whisker Relief to try out. Christy Paws told you all about whisker fatigue and reviewed the bowl on her blog.

Since we only had one bowl (and three cats) and Ocean had the chin acne issue, I decided it would be his bowl to see if it made any difference for him. Since we received the bowl in January, he has been eating from it exclusively. I stopped cleaning and disinfecting the area to be able to test only the bowl. After 7 or 8 weeks, I do see a definite reduction in the number of blackheads.

Although I can’t be sure the bowl is responsible for the improvement for Ocean, I know he does eat from it differently than his old bowl. He kind of shoveled the food out of his old bowl with his chin. He doesn’t do that with the Dr. Catsby’s bowl.

Ocean only has blackheads and no open lesions. I believe using a glass or stainless bowl is very important for cats with this more severe condition to help avoid infection.

Ocean's improved chin


More reading:

close up of cat's chin showing chin acne with text overlay: Feline Chin Acne, does your cat have it? Symptoms and Treatment


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  1. Never heard about feline chin acne so thanks for sharing this Ava!
    My two cats are both in good health but its good to know about this.


  2. I saw this bowl today on Amazon and was wondering about it. I got here Googling for more information about it. Thanks for sharing your experience with this unique bowl!

  3. Good post! I am so intrigued with this bowl. When Annie and Pierrot eat, their food always get smooched to the sides and then they can’t get at it.

  4. Truffle developed chin acne when she was about 1 year old. She was using a water fountain that was plastic. When I switched to ceramic, her chin cleared up. I love the Dr. Catsby bowl.

  5. I just learned about whisker fatigue recently. I have two cats and one is disabled, so I’m super overprotective of him. Right now I have a flat dish for them but this one is really cool looking. I’m glad to see that something like this is on the market. Neither of my cats has had chin acne but now I know what to look for. Thank you!

  6. I made the switch to stainless steel bowls a while back, but they are narrow & my cat gets her face so dirty every time she eats. I tried switching to plates but she just pushed the food right off the edge of the plate & made a mess every time she ate. I’m fascinated by this bowl & really want to give it a try.

  7. Interesting post! I did not know cat chin acne was a thing!

  8. Yes, we’ve gone through this with two cats. Thanks for sharing this information.

  9. Oh my goodness, another aliment our furry family members can have just like their hoomans. I had no idea. Thanks for the information!

  10. It is great that Dr. Catsby’s bowl is helping Ocean with his acne! I have heard other cat owners say that changing the bowl their cat used helped too. Cinco and Manna have never had trouble with feline acne, but they have one of Dr. Catsby’s bowls and they love it! 🙂

  11. This is so interesting, I’ve had many cats throughout my life but never heard of feline chin acne before. Thanks for sharing.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  12. I’ve been wanting one of these! We switched to a plate after reading about whisker fatigue. My cats won’t eat the bottom half of food in a bowl and are much happier with the plate. They also had chin acne when we adopted them, but it was easy to get rid of.

  13. I had no idea cats could get chin acne! I’ll have to go check our Binx! Thanks for the informative post!

  14. Dogs get this to. My boys tend to get it if they eat something they are allergic to

  15. It’s a very interesting blog post. Was it a plastic dish that may have caused the acne? I’m glad he’s doing better.

  16. This is really interesting. Were you feeding your cat from a plastic bowl and then changed to stainless? I’m so glad his acne is doing better.

  17. Great info for cat people…or should I say staff =) Thanks!

  18. I didn’t realize that cats could get chin acne, although I think I’ve seen it before on a cat, I just thought he had a dirty face. I will mention this to his guardian.

  19. I don’t currently have any feline companions but my cat, Greta, who live to 18, had severe chin acne at one point and switching from a plastic dish to stainless made a HUGE difference in a fairly short period of time. It was interesting because my other cat at the time, Grace, had no acne issues regardless of the bowl.

  20. my past cat had this! and i had no idea that it was chin acne! Great informative post.

  21. I didn’t know this at all – I will share with all of my readers!! I have lots of kitty cat friends who will benefit from your post!

  22. Great post! One of our kitties had a bit of chin acne for a while. We switched bowls too and that helped.

  23. This is new to me. Thanks for the heads up!

  24. Great topic and one not a lot of people know about. I also recommend Dermagic.com for taking care of stubborn acne that doesn’t go away after replacing dishes. 😉

  25. One of our previous cats had an initial problems with feline acne, she’d been fed from a plastic bowl previously so I believe that contributed.

  26. In dogs it’s usually plastic bowls that do this. Jasmine had it once too. We’ve been using stainless steel bowls ever since.

  27. We haven’t experienced feline acne before! Our kitties eat out of stainless steel bowls.

  28. One of my cats occasionally has problems with blackheads. I keep a close eye on her and have switched her feeding dish over to glass.

  29. I’ve dealt with feline acne & it’s no fun. Plastic bowls worry me. This looks great & I like the low profile for whiskers.

  30. A lot of good information. We will be happy to share this. We do not have cats but we have a lot of friends who do.

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