Cat acne, or feline acne, is one of cats’ most common skin diseases. Usually, cat acne manifests itself as small, inconspicuous pimples or blackheads. It can eventually develop into large, unsightly spots and blemishes if left untreated.
Cat acne is not contagious. However, several cats living close to each other may be affected by acne outbreaks, so that a common cause may be responsible. This cause may be dirty water, common allergies, parasites, or contagious infections.
Just because cat acne is not contagious to other cats does not mean you should ignore it. Even if your cat seems fine, you must find the cause.
What is Cat Acne?
Cat acne, or feline acne, manifests as small, bumpy pimples or blackheads on a cat’s chin.
If left untreated, they develop into large pimples. Eventually, these pimples burst open, which can lead to infection and bleeding.
Any cat can develop feline acne, regardless of breed, age, or gender. However, it is often associated with other problems.
In some cats, cat acne occurs only once and heals quickly. In others, it may break out regularly.
Can Cat Acne Be Transmitted from Cat to Cat?
Cat acne on the chin is a problem that occurs individually in each cat. This means that cat acne is not transmitted from cat to cat. Therefore, it is not a contagious health problem.
Nevertheless, cats living near each other can all seem to develop acne simultaneously.
However, this is not due to contagion. Instead, it suggests that the exact cause for the acne outbreak exists in all cats.
If a cat develops chin acne, it may be an unfortunate coincidence. This is especially true for young cats experiencing a hormonal surge comparable to puberty.
However, if multiple cats are affected by acne, there will be a reason.
What Are the Causes of Cat Acne?
Cat acne is caused by an excess of keratin in the cat’s skin. This is a protein that clogs the pores.
It is also possible that medical or lifestyle factors play a role, particularly if multiple cats are affected.
One study examined 1,407 cases of feline acne over 15 years. Various explanations were found, but allergies were the most common cause.
Many cats are allergic to plastic. That means their food and water bowls might be the cause.
When cats eat and drink from such a container, they rub their chin against the plastic surface. This can cause an outbreak of cat acne.
Your cat’s food could also be to blame. Have you recently changed your cat’s food brand, and acne has appeared afterward?
If so, the food could be the cause, as cats can be sensitive to changes in diet. Offer your cat a light meal like chicken and rice and see if that helps.
Stress and Anxiety
If your cat is stressed, she will change her behavior. This mainly includes overgrooming or not grooming at all. Overgrooming irritates the skin, while lack of grooming leads to oily and greasy fur.
In addition, stress floods the cat’s body with hormones. This can eventually lead to an imbalance.
Cat acne is just one of the possible side effects of this. Keep your cat’s stress levels in check by providing as routine a daily routine as possible and avoiding stress.
Some cats may experience dermatological problems that lead to chin acne. These problems can also be hereditary.
This makes the outbreak of acne among littermates likely. Mixed breeds, Abyssinian cats, and Devon Rex are most likely affected.
Dermatitis can also be caused or aggravated by hormonal fluctuations.
When a cat reaches senior age, hormone levels should have leveled off. However, hormone surges and drops can still occur.
When a group of cats live together, parasite infestations can spread quickly. Fleas can infest several animals at once.
These parasites are also a possible explanation for cat acne. Allergic reactions to flea saliva can cause this acne.
Ringworm is a skin condition in cats caused by a fungus that is contagious among cats. If a cat gets ringworm, all the animals it encounters will also get it.
Ringworm causes scaly, cracked, and peeling skin. It can also cause sores and crusts that are sometimes mistaken for pimples.
The longer cats live with ringworms, the more uncomfortable they become.
Feline mange looks similar to ringworm. This problem is caused by mites feeding the cat’s dead skin.
Like ringworm, this damages the skin and leads to acne or worse. Most treatments that kill fleas also kill mites.
Bacterial or Viral Infection
Cat acne can be a side effect of a viral infection transmitted from cat to cat.
While acne alone is not contagious, feline herpes virus (FHV) or feline calicivirus (FCV) spread like wildfire. They can weaken a cat’s immune system.
Also, severe bacterial infections can spread among cats.
Staphylococcus aureus, also known as staph, is dangerous. If a cat has acne and other symptoms of illness, isolate it from other cats.
Check the water your cats drink, especially if they share the bowl.
A simultaneous outbreak of chin acne in several cats may indicate bacteria in the water. This is especially common in areas with hard water.
For outdoor cats, acne caused by water is even more likely.
Cats often avoid tap water and use wild sources like puddles or rivers instead. These bodies of water may contain bacteria.
Keep your cats indoors when they have cat acne and offer other water sources.
If your cat does not take proper care of itself, its skin and coat will become increasingly oily. This leads to inflammation of the cat’s hair follicles, resulting in acne.
Older cats, in particular, often find it difficult to groom themselves adequately. Grooming requires agility and flexibility, and many older cats have joint problems.
You may need to help your cat with grooming.
Excessive Chin Rubbing
Another possible cause is when your cat is rubbing its chin excessively. Cats have scent glands on their chins to mark their territory.
A cat constantly marking anything will wear down the fur around its chin. This exposes the cat’s sensitive skin, making acne more and more likely.
Assign your cat its own individual and undisputed territory. This reduces the desire to mark other areas of the home.
Is Cat Acne Painful?
Cat acne can be asymptomatic. The problem is unsightly but not painful or dangerous.
However, it would be best if you still looked for an explanation for feline chin acne. The acne can turn into pimples that can cause skin irritation and inflammation.
If a cat has pimples, it probably scratches at them. Since cats have sharp claws, this creates open sores. Once this happens, bacteria can enter your cat’s skin.
Even if your cat doesn’t seem to have any problems with pimples, this can change overnight. Don’t ignore the first signs of the problem. If you take action early, your cat will feel more comfortable.
Never squeeze or press on a pimple on a cat’s chin. This will cause the cat considerable pain. It also creates an open wound that can lead to further infection.
Treatment of Cat Acne
Prevention is always the best remedy for cat acne. However, if the problem still occurs, there are several treatment options.
The solution you decide on should be tailored to the cause of the problem.
As your cat ages, he may find it difficult to groom himself properly. This can include the chin and face.
Assist your cat with grooming. Keep your cat’s fur short around the chin as well.
Wash your cat’s chin with a soft, skin-friendly washcloth at least one day a week. Always use plain, unscented soap.
Other Food and Water Bowls
As mentioned earlier, plastic allergies can significantly cause cat acne.
Replace plastic bowls with metal or ceramic ones. Alternatively, you can remove food bowls altogether.
Make sure the food is not causing acne. If your cat eats primarily wet food, try gradually giving her more dry food or vice versa.
In persistent and problematic cases of cat acne, switch the cat to an anti-inflammatory food.
Senior cats also require less protein, which means they produce less keratin. Switch your cat to senior-friendly cat food.
You might also consider supplementing your cat’s diet. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are considered effective against chin acne in cats.
Rubbing the cat’s chin with a topical preparation can relieve folliculitis. Possible natural preparations include:
- Green tea
- Native, cold-pressed apple cider vinegar
- Coconut oil
- Witch hazel
- Cucumber pulp
If these natural remedies are ineffective, you should consult a veterinarian.
Your cat may have a hormonal imbalance or skin condition that needs to be treated. Your veterinarian will likely prescribe an ointment.
Summary: Is Cat Acne Contagious?
A cat with chin acne will not transmit the disease on to other cats.
However, that doesn’t mean that a group of cats can’t all get cat acne at the same time.
In that case, there is usually a common cause that will cause your cats to develop acne.