Managing Feline Acne

Acne may be most common with teenagers, but many cats also develop this skin condition on the chin and lips. Fortunately, feline acne is usually minor and easy to treat.

Cat SleepingBrandi Miller, a veterinary student at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, has advice for managing cat acne and avoiding infections.

Cat acne can occur for many reasons, though the specific cause is usually unknown. Typically, the hair follicles on the chin produce too much oil, causing lesions and other bumps.

“The severity and painfulness of the lesions vary,” Miller said. “Most commonly, owners will see comedones, or ‘blackheads,’ on the chin and lips, and the cat may be itchy and want to rub its chin on furniture.”

Though this condition sounds rather unpleasant, it really is no worse than an average case of human acne. Miller said feline acne tends to need lifelong management but is usually treatable with over-the-counter medications.

“This condition is often cosmetic and does not affect the quality of life of the animal, as long as there is no infection,” Miller said. “Daily topical wipes, gels, and shampoos may help manage the lesions, but it is important to avoid alcohol and peroxide-based products, as these may be irritating to the skin and make matters worse.”

Miller said that human acne medicines should also be avoided, as they can be very harmful to animals. Sometimes one of the best treatment options is simply cleaning the cat’s chin on a regular basis.

“Popping zits is the absolute worst thing you can do—it causes a lot of pain and irritation, disrupts the structure of the hair follicle, and can spread the infection to other parts of the chin,” she said.

Miller recommends being careful when treating cats, as some may try to bite and scratch if they are in pain.

Consulting with your veterinarian is always recommended, because while feline acne is usually minor, it can become a larger issue if infections occur. Infected lesions can develop into painful bruises if left untreated.

“We don’t always know why this occurs,” Miller said. “However, plastic food dishes tend to harbor microbes, so we recommend that owners switch to metallic dishes and clean them daily.”

If a cat is prone to infections, its veterinarian may want to test for other skin conditions or parasites that could be causing the acne.

Treatment for feline acne can easily be incorporated into a daily routine, and usually takes only a minute or two. If properly cared for, cats with acne should be able to live the same pain-free life as any other cat.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

Cats are carnivores, so they should eat like one

cute cat staringDiet can have a big impact on health. Just like humans, cats have special dietary needs to help them stay healthy.

However, feline diets are a lot different than human diets. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they require meat in their diet and need little carbohydrates.

In the wild, cats usually prey on small animals, such as mice and birds. But as a pet, a cat might only be preying on a can of cat food. Because pet cats often don’t get the opportunity to hunt for their own food, it’s important for cat owners to mimic the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet their cat would naturally eat in the wild.

Dr. Deb Zoran, a professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said the best way to mimic a cat’s natural diet is to feed them canned food that has a protein content of 40 percent or higher and a carbohydrate content of 10 percent or lower.
Eating canned food will also help your kitty meet their daily water needs.

“Cats are used to getting a large percentage of their daily water needs from their diet,” Zoran said, adding that if a cat is primarily eating dry food, it may have a harder time staying hydrated. “All dry foods are low moisture, so cats that eat only dry foods consume less water and are more prone to dehydration.”

Dry food diets can also present other health challenges because they are typically high in fat, carbohydrates, and calories. In fact, a high-carb diet can lead to obesity and diabetes, Zoran said.

In addition, a dry food diet may also upset your cat’s stomach, since cats are not “built” for carbohydrate digestion and absorption.

So what should you feed your cat? Zoran said it is best to choose a canned-food diet that says on the label “complete and balanced.” If you want to feed a homemade diet or other type of whole-food diet, Zoran said that’s OK, too. Just make sure to consult a nutritional expert to ensure the diet meets all of your cat’s needs.

Additionally, it’s OK if you want to give your cat a treat every now and then. Zoran recommended plain, cooked meats that are not seasoned and do not contain onions and garlic, which can be toxic.

Other foods that can be poisonous for pets include fruits such as grapes and raisins. In fact, Zoran said to avoid giving your cat fruits and vegetables unless your vet has given you permission.

There are also many plants that are toxic to cats, such as Easter lilies.

“They are extremely deadly to cats,” Zoran said. “Chewing on a single leaf can cause kidney failure. It is best to know what plants you have before you put them in the house.”

As a cat owner, it is your responsibility to keep your pet safe from potentially harmful foods and to take your cat’s dietary needs seriously. As the old saying goes, you are what you eat!

Pet Talk is a service of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Stories can be viewed on the web at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

When is your cat hiding illness or injury?

a cute cat sleepingWe do our best to take care of our feline friends, but sometimes signs of pain and sickness go unnoticed. Dr. Stacy Eckman, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, described feline behavior that could mean an underlying health issue.

“Cats tend to hide their symptoms, which is probably due to survival instinct,” Eckman said. “Most signs of illness or injury are subtle, including sleeping more than normal; not getting up to greet you, if that is normal behavior; or laying and sleeping in the same position for long periods of time.”

Other changes pet owners should be aware of include the cat withdrawing or being reluctant to be petted. Changes in litter box habits and vomiting can also indicate underlying issues. In addition, cat owners should keep an eye on their pet’s food and water bowl; any changes in appetite and water consumption may mean their feline friend isn’t feeling well.

Since it can be hard to notice subtle changes in your cat’s behavior, going to regular veterinarian check-ups can help identify illness or areas of pain and discomfort before they become a more serious health concern.

“Your veterinarian will be able to monitor vital signs, such as temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate, as well as check for weight loss or weight gain,” Eckman said.

As your cat ages, your veterinarian also may recommend laboratory tests to identify or follow-up on any health abnormalities, such as frequent urination or a decrease in appetite.

Overall, regular veterinarian visits are key in protecting your cat’s health. Even if your cat seems fine, it is always a good idea to visit the veterinarian at least once a year.


Pet Talk is a service of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Stories can be viewed on the web at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to .