Cat Zits: Feline Chin Acne

Did you know cats can get zits? As with humans, cats can fall prey to pesky pimples and blemishes.

feline chin acne whitehead under jaw Infected Cat Zit
cat acne picture

Cat zits do not start as blackheads. Instead, the affected areas appear like black dirt under the cat’s chin. But some feline chin acne has to be treated. Otherwise, it may lead to more severe skin conditions. Whether or you’re looking for feline acne images or ways to prevent it, it’s all covered here.

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What Are Cat Zits?

 Cat zits, known as feline chin acne, are widespread skin conditions in cats. You may have noticed this common symptom when petting your cat. Or perhaps when your cat has rubbed up against a surface to scratch. Many cat owners think nothing of little dirt on the chin or even flea dirt/poop. But it’s not.

cat chin acne Simon cat zits
Close-up of cat chin acne on a Ragdoll cat – those black specs that look like flea poop/flea dirt are the acne – cat acne picture

However, they can get infected if you don’t clean and remove these specks from the cat’s chin. Infected pimples become what humans more readily recognize as acne whiteheads, as the image above shows.

Cat Acne

Ragdoll cat acne is the same thing – acne around the chin of your Ragdoll cat. There are many potential reasons a Ragdoll cat can develop acne, and you should take steps to identify the cause and resolve it to stop the acne from developing into a worse problem.

Seal Bicolor Ragdoll Cat Addie Feline Acne Chin Zits IMG_7034

 If untreated for an extended time, these pimples can quickly become lesions and lead to more troublesome issues. 

 Cat acne usually presents predominantly on the chin. It isn’t all that uncommon, but a condition we must treat thoroughly to ensure the best health for our cats.

What Causes Feline Chin Acne?

 Like humans, there are different theories and reasonings behind the question, “why do cats get acne?” Researchers concluded that cats present a variety of skin conditions like humans. However, some cat breeds may be more susceptible to acne for different reasons.

A Few of the Most Common Theories as to Why Cats Get Zits and Chin Acne Are: 

1. Food Bowls

Ragdoll cat eating out of PawNosh glass pet bowls on WooPet Pet Food Mat

Evidence has shown how toxic plastics in the home can be for cats. Unfortunately, plastic food bowls are the most commonplace owners will discover this problem.

While ceramic food bowls are a favorite alternative with pet owners, problematically – the glaze on ceramic bowls can eventually crack. Unfortunately, microscopic bacteria can get into the cracks and cause the same problem as plastic bowls.

2. Water Bowls and Fountains

Once again, the plastic found here retains bacteria, which causes the zits to grow.

3. Plastic Exposure in the Home

After eliminating our plastic and ceramic food bowls, Trigg still had this acne. I began observing his daily activities and discovered he got his feline chin acne from resting his head/chin on the dining room table leg. The table leg was plastic!

Be sure to keep a keen eye and pay close attention when looking for anything plastic your cat could interact with.

4. Food Allergies

Some believe acne results from the cat’s chin touching its food (the black specks look like food debris or flea poop).

My vet recently enlightened me on how some cats get cat chin acne because they’re allergic to beef or wheat. In some cases, both. Like humans, your cat’s wheat or beef allergies can present around the mouth area. 

cat acne Simon cat zits chin
Close-up of cat chin acne on a Ragdoll cat

My interview about food allergies with Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM, discusses food allergies and intolerances in cats in greater detail.

5. Hormonal Issues/Genes

Imagine your 2-4-year-old neutered kitties as a human teenager. Puberty is kind to very few, and like teens, hormones play a huge factor in our changing bodies. Human teens get more acne. It seems teen kitties have feline acne more.

 My cat, Trigg, has a much more oily coat than Charlie. After learning this, it was no surprise he got zits from the additional oils he produces.

Seal Bicolor Ragdoll Cat Addie Feline Acne Chin Zits IMG_7033

6. Atopic Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis can occur from a variety of things. 

  •  Allergies can be environmental (such as candles, soaps, plastics, etc.).
  • Wipes (medicated wipes, baby wipes, anything containing a chemical or solution used to wipe your cat’s chin area). 
  • Pollen: cats love to rub on the grass outside. Some kitties are sensitive to flowers and weeds. 

7. Lack of Omega-3s

A reader commented on one of our videos. She said her vet informed her feline chin acne was due to a lack of Omega-3 fatty acids in her cat’s diet.

8. Stress

Have you recently moved? Have you added new pets to the home? Is your home more chaotic than usual? Cats keenly pick up on stressors in their environments. Too much stress can cause hormone shifts in your cat.

9. Poor Grooming Habits

EZ-Groomer Cat Shedding Comb Product Review

If your cat hasn’t been cleaning themselves as much as usual, unkempt hair follicles can lead to bacterial infection.

10. Hyperactive Sebaceous Glands

This skin condition creates abundant sebaceous production in the cat’s body. In addition, over-active oils can lead to clogged skin cells. This condition can cause itchy, flakey, oily, or extra dry spots on the skin, including the chin area.

cat chin acne Simon cat zits on chin
cat chin acne – cat acne picture

11. Poor Immune System

As with humans, a weakened immune system in cats can also lead to other conditions where feline chin acne can occur.

12. Disease

Many feline diseases can cause hormone imbalances. Such imbalances lead to an increase in excessive sebum production. Sebum is the natural oily ‘moisturizer’ produced by the skin, which causes feline chin acne.

Other diseases can present feline chin acne as a symptom. Some illnesses or conditions present symptoms near the face or head area.

Depending on the disease, feline chin acne may occur as a symptom. 

Seal Bicolor Ragdoll Cat Addie Feline Acne Chin Zits

13. Keratinization

Excess production of the keratin protein in the body. If this excess keratin gets trapped in the hair follicle, comedones or “blackheads” form, causing excessive sebum production.

 Each cat is different. What may cause one cat to have feline chin acne may not affect another. My cats Murphy and Caymus live in the same house and have the same father, yet Murphy’s zits are ten times worse than Caymus’. Rags never had many zits at all. I have never spotted feline acne on Charlie.

What Are the Signs of Feline Chin Acne?

Appearance

What does cat acne look like?

Like human acne, feline acne will first appear as small blackheads, looking similar to flea poop or dirt. However, with feline chin acne, these blackheads will be tighter to the cat’s skin than loose or in the fur.

Feline chin acne, though most recognized for appearing on the chin, may also appear on the lips or mouth area. In severe cases, you may even notice hair loss on the chin.

You may notice your cat rubbing his chin or face more often or rubbing against things to scratch the area. 

They will not simply brush off at first but must be scrubbed or scraped.

Your cat’s lips and chin area may appear inflamed or swollen. Severe cases may have dry, crusty areas which are painful to the touch for your cat.

Gender is not a factor. Both male and female cats can get feline chine acne.

 You can see a close-up here of the black specs on Caymus’ chin. But, again, this is a very mild version of blackheads on a cat.  

Here you can see the difference in Trigg’s zits.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of feline acne is based on your cat’s medical history and symptoms the cat is exhibiting at the time of your vet visit.

 Often a veterinarian will conduct a skin scrapping test to rule out other conditions such as mites, ringworm, or yeast infection. In some cases, your vet may perform blood or urine testing if the blemishes and lesions look abnormal for the condition. 

Biopsies may also be performed to properly determine the condition. 

 It is always a good idea to inform your vet of recent changes with your cat. This information may assist the veterinarian in narrowing down the diagnosis to feline chin acne and how best to treat it.

Treating Cat Zits and Feline Chin Acne

 Feline acne can be mild, severe, or any combination in between. If caught early, mild cases can be treated at home. However, start treatments with the least invasive possibilities first. Sometimes the simplest changes can be the best solution. 

If you have used all the mild strategies, eliminated all the possible allergens, and still see no improvement in your cat’s condition, consult further with your vet to determine the next best step for treating acne.

 It is always better to get your cat checked out sooner when you first notice an issue not improving, as opposed to later when the condition could cause more significant problems for your cat.

feline chin acne blackheads along chin Caymus' Zits Close-Up - the black specs are his zits. This is a very mild version.

For Mild Cat Acne

1. Replace Food Bowls

 Eliminating the potential cause of feline chin acne is your first priority. Start by replacing the cat’s plastic, ceramic, or metal food and water dishes with glass ones. 

2. Petroleum Jelly (like Vaseline)

Take a little bit of petroleum jelly and rub it into the affected area. Let it sit briefly, then scratch off the black specs with your clean fingernail. Finally, wash the area with a warm washcloth to remove the petroleum jelly.

3. Toothbrush

 Instead of pulling the black specs out of your cat’s fur with your fingernails, you can use an old toothbrush. Gently brush out the specs using a swiping motion in a consistent direction. Your cat may like this better and will likely help you by rubbing it against the toothbrush. 

4. Use a Flea Comb To Get Out the Chin Dirt

Safari Flea Comb with a Double Row of Teeth

You can use a flea comb regularly to help wipe out the little black specs which may accumulate on the chin and provoke a feline chine acne flare-up. In addition, regular brushing helps keep hair follicles clear from build-up. 

5. Warm Salt Water and a Towel:

Salt is an excellent exfoliant. Use warm salt water and a clean towel to rub the area. Repeat this action several times, replacing the towel with a new one. This will help remove bacteria, open clogged follicles, and remove blackheads and dirt from the area.

6. Benzoyl Peroxide Shampoo/Soap:

Another popular opinion is to wash your kitty’s feline acne with benzoyl peroxide. This is the main ingredient in most dandruff shampoos. A diluted version of dandruff shampoo washed into the affected area may help clean the skin and keep it clear of zits. Be cautious not to get soap in your kitty’s eyes or nose. You only need a small amount.

 You must try something milder if your cat does not respond to the smell. There are many benefits to a well-based shampoo for your cat’s skin issues. Dandruff shampoo has many of these favorable properties. Keeping extra around the house is handy, as it will help clean skin and keep it clear from feline acne.

For More Severe Cat Acne

1. Pop The Pimples

Dermatologists have been telling us for years, don’t pop our pimples. But cat acne is a bit different. Should your cat acquire the whitehead version of feline zits, it is best to pop them. So, yes, pop the zits. But make sure you take the proper precautions before popping – clean hands, fingernails, and a lancet to make a tiny hole before squeezing.

Warm compresses should help soften the skin around the whitehead, allowing the skin to become slightly softer and easier to lance. The whitehead part of a cat zit becomes very hard and, when popped, looks more like a bit of grain of rice.

 If you keep up with your cat’s zits, they should go away after a month or two. You can also take your kitty to the vet and ask the vet to take care of the problem. A quick video search on YouTube will show you that some cats’ acne gets so bad that they must put the cat under to address the issues. 

2. Antibiotics

 In some cases, an antibiotic will be needed to assist in resolving your cat’s feline chin acne. Bacteria is one of the top contributors to cat acne. You will need to see your veterinarian and have a few tests performed to determine if bacteria is present before an antibiotic can be prescribed. 

3. Anti-inflammatory

In some cases, anti-inflammatories may also be beneficial to assist with healing severe feline acne cases. Many topical anti-inflammatories contain steroids or retinoids, which pack a bit more punch to fight off cat acne. You will need to see your veterinarian for this prescription as well.

4. Anti-allergy Cream:

Suppose your veterinarian determines an allergy may cause your cat’s feline chin acne. In that case, they may prescribe a topical allergy cream to be applied to the chin one to two times daily. A series of tests may be used to determine the allergen. A blood test can usually help narrow this down.

Products that Help with Cat Acne:

A slew of products is available to assist in treating feline acne. These are a few of the solutions I have tried or been recommended over the years. Is there anything you would add to this list?

Blue Light Therapy for Feline Chin Acne

You can read more at Photonic Health and use Photonic Health Discount Code FLOPPYCATS to receive $25 off. $25 off coupon code valid on orders of $200 or more.

Drinking Fountains:

Stainless Steel Fountains:

Preventing Feline Cat Acne

 Often the best solution for cat chin acne is doing your best to prevent it in the first place. When you can’t entirely prevent your cat’s chin acne, you may use these tips for reducing the frequency of episodes with feline chin acne:

  •  Brush your cat with a flea comb or fine-toothed comb at least monthly. 
  • Frequently wash your cat’s food and water dishes to reduce bacteria.
  • Avoid beef and wheat in your cat’s diet if possible.
  • Reduce the number of plastics your cat has access to in your home. 
  • Schedule your cat for yearly check-ups to keep them healthy.
  • Try your best to create a stress-free environment in your home (your cat and you will appreciate this one).
  • Try a sturdy glass feeding or drinking dish for your cat instead of plastic.
  • Become familiar with checking your cat regularly. This way, you will notice when something is off.

Do you think you found a cat pimple on their belly?

A suspected cat pimple on the belly is more than likely their nipple! Do Male Cats Have Nipples?

To Sum Up

 Feline acne can be a very pesky problem for you and your cat. However, with a trained eye to quickly notice signs of a possible problem and treat it accordingly, it is a common condition that can be controlled and comfortable for your cat.

 If you are ever unsure, never hesitate to ask your vet.

Has your kitty had cat zits? Could you determine the cause of your cat’s feline chin acne? What remedies have worked best for you and your cat? Let us know in the comments below!

Find More Tips for Cat Health Care Here:

 If you found this post helpful, dive into our other great posts to keep your cat happy, healthy, and content.

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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12 Comments

  1. **A word of caution on using Stridex pads containing the active ingredient salicylic acid. It is TOXIC to cats if they ingest it.**

    This is a product that will be used on their chins and likely to be ingested so use pads that are meant for cats. They are a little more expensive, but cheaper than vet care after using Stridex pads. My vet also recommended these, I used them and my cat got sick. One would think that a veterinarian would know better. I’m guessing they are still working off the premise that these pads still use benzoyl peroxide when many have switched to salicylic acid a few years ago. Amazon & Chewy both have cat acne pads for sale, I’d error on the side of caution and get those.

  2. Catherine says:

    My 7 month old kittens are both getting blackheads on their chins. I noticed it on Henrietta first, her fur is thinner. I brushed at it a couple times with a toothbrush and flea comb and it went away almost completely. Now maybe once a week I give it a look and there might be one or two tiny blackheads. Raspberry on the other hand, has it quite differently! I checked him after I found it on her, and discovered he had two patches under his thicker fur. I brushed them out the same way, but it comes back so quickly! Every day it’s like a mat on his skin, with tons of blackheads. Every day I brush it out gently and get all the big ones and just as many as I can remove in general – until I can see skin everywhere and just occasional tiny black spots. But then the next day it’s back again! I mostly use stainless steel dishes, maybe I’ll try glass and see if that fixes it…

    1. See where else he is resting his chin – my Trigg would rest his chin on a plastic leg when he would lay under my table that was causing it. But it is also caused from beef and wheat and other food sensitivities, so look at what they are eating too.

  3. Patti Johnson says:

    Always a great topic, Jenny honey! TYSVM for more great info! 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

  4. This was SO helpful!! My tortie cat had a bit black spot on her chin for a few weeks (several months ago). I googled and learned a bit about cat acne – I read not to pop it due to risk of infection. Eventually a very hard, black, rice-like thing fell off her chin one evening. I then noticed 2 additional black specks under her chin and tried rubbing them out with my fingers but it didn’t come out – so I left it alone, figuring it’s acne, it’ll self heal.

    Well, fast fwd a few months to April 2020 and the chin spot was back and continuing to grow. My dad mentioned ticks. She gets monthly flea/tick med but I still got paranoid and panicked. The black zit let out puss. One under her chin is quite stubborn and the other under the chin popped with a hard, white, rice-like lump. I used a chlorhexidine wipe to clean up afterward and plan to for a few days to be safe, prevent infection of any open skin. She has a plastic water fountain currently, which I’m now searching Chewy for a ceramic or steel replacement! I’ll try a toothbrush or something to get that last stubborn zit under her chin.

    Thank you!

    1. You’re welcome – yes the “puss” of a cat zit is different than our own…it’s interesting. Poor Chiggy (my cat) can get them and I do enjoy popping them…which isn’t good for him…but 10 years in, we’re OK.

  5. The minute my Giorgio eats from a metal dish, his chin breaks out! The first happened shortly after I brought him home and fed him out of brand new, stainless dishes. I had used stainless with all of my other cats in the past because I hate plastic pet bowls and I knew that stainless was better because you could really clean it well. The breeder said to try glass and it worked like a charm, so from then, I use Fiestaware fruit bowls and no more zits!

  6. Patti Johnson says:

    Great info, Jenny! Thanks for reposting! We have been very fortunate with our girl, Miss Pink Sugarbelle, not getting any chin acne so far. My heart just goes out to the kittehs who do get the chin acne and the owners who have to deal with it (always so stressful when our beloved kittehs have a health issue). No one wants acne (human or kitteh).

    Luckily we follow the rules to avoid exposing her to materials/products that can cause the condition thanks to helpful articles like this!

    Big hugs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for posting this and for the videos! My cat has had cat acne since I got her (10 years ago, how time flies!) and everyone I talked to about it told me it was fleas. She also over grooms and rips her fur out leaving bald patches on her belly, arms and tail. I knew it couldn’t be fleas since flea dirt doesn’t only show up on the chin and on her bald patches the skin is healthy. For some reason people don’t seem to know about feline acne even though it is so common! Thank you for posting this and increasing pet owners knowledge of pet health! Also your cats in the videos are both beautiful! 😀

    1. Oh how sad – yes, so many people don’t know what it is. And even in my videos where I say it looks like flea dirt, but it’s not, they still tell me it’s flea dirt. Oh well.

  8. Hello, Floppycats!
    This article was actually very helpful. Of our three cats, the middle one [who is about 4 years old] has just started getting these black specks on his chin. He’s got a white chin and muzzle, so it’s really easy to spot these. My mom has found three so far… and I thought maybe they were scabs as the cats tend to play rough with eachother. But they actually pop, and like a normal human zit, a hard [sometimes puss] substance will come out. She joked about how he may have “Kitty Acne.” So, I googled it, and this was the first site I looked at… and confirmed that cats actually CAN get zits! [Which I think is hilarious!] None of these specks have turned white or got as big as the one shown in the picture, which is good. But thanks for the information on this! The article was super helpful!

    1. Glad it was helpful – although the cat zits I am used to do not pop – I have two videos on YouTube that show how my cats get zits:

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