My cat has this dirt under her chin all the time–and she doesn’t even go outside! Are these fleas or something else? Help!
What The Heck Is This Stuff? in Woodland Heights
Dear What The Heck,
A quick trip to the vet will confirm this, but it sounds like your kitty is suffering from a mild case of “cat acne.” As soon as your vet rules out other skin conditions, such as mites, a fungal or bacterial infection or fleas, you’ll probably embark on a routine to manage your kitty’s acne–because it’s not something that can really be cured. But, worry not! Most likely, it doesn’t cause your cat any discomfort and will stay in control with a few new habits. If left untreated however, this skin condition can get worse, resulting in inflamed and itchy blackheads. Ew.
What causes this cat acne?
No one knows for sure, but there are a few contributing factors to this condition. Vets believe that stress plays a role in it, poor grooming (as cats age), dirty food bowls, and even a suppressed immune system.
Getting a handle on kitty zits
One way to help your cat get a hold of her acne problem is to help her clean the affected area. Home treatments include gentle washing of the chin once or twice daily with a mild soap, benzoyl peroxide, chlorhexidine or other cleansers recommended by your veterinarian.
Another way to help is to make sure that her food bowls are cleaned every day and, if you’re currently feeding her from plastic bowls, consider switching to glass or stainless steel. Plastic tends to harbor this acne-causing bacteria.
Considering that, (if your kitty is like most) she’s happiest when her face is in her food bowl–this can lead to bacteria transfer from the bowl to her chin.
If your at-home remedies don’t seem to help make the acne better or the acne appears to get worse, it’s probably time to high-tail it back to the vet. The vet can prescribe an antibiotic or even steroid injections to help the situation. Also, a prescription-strength pet shampoo might be in order and your vet can advise you on that as well.
With a few tweaks to your hygiene habits and a little patience, you’ll probably find that kitty’s acne clears up nicely. The good news is that it likely doesn’t bother her at all and won’t affect her chances of getting a date to the middle school dance. Whew!
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