Cat Acne 101: What Causes It? What is the Best Treatment?

Meet Harlowe and her foster mom, Jody!

Cat treated for cat acne with her foster mom

Harlowe was living outside for 9 years as a community cat. Heartbreakingly, she slept on porch banisters as a refuge from other cats that harassed her. When Cat Calls Rescue in Pittsburgh saved Harlowe, she had dermatitis, a mass in her mouth, infected teeth, ear cancer, and severe cat acne on her chin. This is Harlowe before she was rescued. 

Cat with cat acne

What Is Cat Acne?

Cat acne, also called feline acne, is a medical condition that affects cats, typically on their chin and lips. Like human acne, cat acne is characterized by blackheads (which look like dirt specks), whiteheads, bumps, and other lesions. Cat acne causes discomfort, itchiness, redness, fur loss, and stress, affecting happiness and behavior.

This is a closeup of cat acne on Harlowe's chin and lips:

Cat acne on chin

Many cats suffer from cat acne. We want to help these cats and their cat parents by sharing information on:

  • What causes cat acne
  • How to prevent cat acne
  • How to treat cat acne

What Causes Cat Acne?

Cat acne is most frequently caused by plastic bowls. Veterinarian Dr. Ernest Ward explains that “in a significant number of cats, there is an association between using plastic food and water dishes and chin acne.” 

Plastic bowls are porous and can scratch easily. Tiny cracks harbor microbes and bacteria that feed on leftover food and saliva.

In turn, that bacteria transfers onto cats’ skin while they are eating or drinking, triggering acne breakouts. Breakouts occur when hair follicles become clogged and inflamed with bacteria and oils.

Cat acne from plastic bowl

Harlowe got cat acne on her chin and lips from plastic bowls, and it got worse over time as she wasn't receiving veterinary care. Her cat acne quicky improved after she began using these stainless steel cat bowls.

Less common causes of cat acne include stress, immunosuppression, parasites, viruses, and poor grooming (which is sometimes associated with obesity, aging, or underlying disease), according to Dr. Ward.

How to Prevent Cat Acne?

Use Stainless Steel Cat Bowls

The best and easiest way to prevent cat acne is to use high-quality, stainless steel cat bowls. Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine recommends that “owners switch to metallic dishes and clean them daily, because plastic food dishes tend to harbor microbes.” 

Unlike plastic, stainless steel is nonporous. It doesn’t develop scratches or cracks that harbor bacteria. It can also be fully sanitized in the dishwasher. Stainless steels’ superior safety and durability is why this material is frequently used in cooking and medical supplies.

Stainless steel is simply more sanitary!

My cats, Bella (pictured below) and Lewie, love these high-quality, stainless steel cat bowls to prevent cat acne. Americat Company bowls are made in the USA from U.S. stainless steel and are certified free of lead and radioactive metals. Plus, they are non-toxic and food grade (even safe for human use).

Treat cat acne with cat bowl

Of the thousands of cats that have used Americat Company stainless steel cat bowls, there has NEVER been a report of a cat developing acne while using these bowls. Using stainless steel is key to preventing cat acne.

Clean Cat Bowls Daily

Just like human food, cat food left out for too long can grow harmful bacteria, causing foodborne illnesses.

Therefore, it is important to wash cat bowls daily. Americat Company stainless steel cat bowls are dishwasher safe and easy to clean by hand for frequent sanitizing.

For more information, read this article about how often and how to clean your cats’ bowls.

How to Treat Cat Acne?

Feline acne can become a larger issue if infections occur, so it’s important to treat immediately! If you’ve discovered that your cat has acne, consider what type of bowls your cat is using.

If your cats use plastic bowls, they may be contaminated with bacteria. So, throw them out and switch to stainless steel cat bowls. These are the best stainless steel cat bowls to treat cat acne

Also, consult with your veterinarian. Depending on the severity of the acne, your veterinarian may prescribe a facial wash, topical ointment, wipes, supplement, antibiotic, and/or corticosteroid.

I fell in love with Harlowe after seeing Cat Calls Rescue's Instagram posts about her. So, I sent Americat Company stainless steel bowls and stands to her foster mom.

Here is Harlowe eating comfortably and healing from cat acne. 

Stainless steel cat bowl to treat cat acne

Is Cat Acne Contagious?

No! Cat acne is not contagious to other cats or to humans. 

If you have multiple cats at home with symptoms of feline acne, it’s likely caused by something in their environment (like shared bowls made of plastic).

Harlowe's Update

Cat acne treated

This is a picture of Harlowe today. Isn't her transformation remarkable! In addition to Americat Company stainless steel bowls clearing up her cat acne, Harlowe had surgery to remove the mass in her mouth, extract all her teeth, and remove parts of her ears that were cancerous. She's now pain-free and was adopted by her second foster mom!

Here’s a note from Jody...

"Americat Company gifted us stainless steel bowls and a stand after discovering that Harlowe was suffering from kitty acne on top of all of her other extremely unfortunate issues.

The stainless steel bowl is quite literally what the doctor ordered and cleared up her cat acne.

And the stand was the icing on the cake. The stand was an important part of Harlowe’s recovery process, since while she was rockin’ her Elizabethan collar (for 3 weeks), she needed an elevated bowl that the collar could fit around. The stand provided height for her, as well as stability.

We will utilize these for more medical kitties in the future!"

If your cat has feline acne, switch to these Americat Company stainless steel cat bowls to treat cat acne.

Cat acne bowls

Other Success Stories Treating Cat Acne

“I love my Americat stainless steel bowls. They are very sturdy and good quality, and easy to clean. Since I switched to these bowls my cat no longer gets acne on her chin. Definitely recommend!” -Laura

"I like that the stainless steel is of the highest quality. Also, I like that they are made in America. Our little Calico cat has feline acne and it has really cleared up by using the stainless steel." -Patricia

“I am so happy to have found a company that makes high quality stainless steel shallow cat bowls! I had previously purchased “stainless steel” bowls from Amazon and they look terrible after only 6 months. I want the best for my kitty and he has battled with chin acne, so we especially needed stainless steel. Thank you for creating a great product.” -Lindsey  

Here's the link to order stainless steel cat bowls to treat cat acne.


About Us: Americat Company is where our love for cats meets American craftsmanship. Founded in 2016, we are a cat-loving, woman-owned, small business. We make cat products in the USA from safe, durable, U.S. materials. Shop all our made in the USA cat products here.

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