Plastic and Feline Chin Acne
Feline chin acne can present with a variety of symptoms ranging from comedomes (blackheads) to draining pustules (pimples). The severity of the condition varies greatly between cats. Some may only require frequent washing of the chin area, while others require extensive topical treatment and oral medications. Some of the underlying causes of chin acne include: poor grooming, abnormally high bacterial count (due to dirty dishes and poor grooming), stress, increased production of sebum (oily substance) in the area, a compromised immune system, concurrent diseases, allergies (environmental, food), and contact dermatitis.
In the past, the suspicion of a contact dermatitis to plastic causing chin acne led to the advice to switch to glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowls. However, it is now thought that the cause is not a reaction to the plastic but a high bacterial level on the plastic bowls that is the culprit. When bowls aren’t washed daily, the bacterial loads can become enormous, causing or exacerbating other conditions leading to chin acne. Plastic bowls tend to provide a better breeding ground for bacteria than do ceramic, glass, or stainless steel.
It is true that the NoBowl Feeding system does have a food safe plastic body, and understandably, owners of cats with chin acne have wondered if the plastic might exacerbate the condition. The great thing about NoBowl is the body can be washed daily in the top rack of the dishwasher and this will keep the bacterial count low. Even if a cat has a contact dermatitis to plastic, the plastic body is covered in a “skin” decreasing the cat’s exposure. The design makes it nearly impossible for cats to eat right out of the body, and because of this, their chins don't come in contact with the plastic. If you watch the videos you'll see cats pawing, nudging, rolling, even throwing the NoBowl mouse in order to get the food out and then they eat the food off of the ground not out of the plastic body. Give NoBowl a try, the environmental enrichment may decrease your cat’s stress, and less stress is always good...especially when dealing with chin acne.
Staci P Wiemelt, VMD
Dr. Wiemelt and Dr. Bales were classmates at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. After graduation, Dr. Wiemelt completed a rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery, and then a residency in veterinary dermatology, both at Penn. At her core, Dr. Wiemelt loves learning and teaching about those things that improve the quality of life of all living creatures.
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