“Do Plastic Bowls Cause Chin Acne”

The jury is still out on this one. Let’s talk about it.

I’ve been letting the comments on Instagram lead the way for the blog lately, after-all, why not answer the questions people are actually asking vs thinking of a new topic? This week is no exception. We posted a reel last week that showed a moderate case of feline chin acne. WOW… I never dreamed such a normal video would elicit the passion (and fighting) amongst the viewers. Something I did not mention in the video (on purpose- because there is no scientific proof of it), is that some people believe that chin acne is caused by a plastic allergy. They suggest that changing your cat’s bowls to a more nonporous material such as stainless steel, ceramic, or glass could eliminate the condition. But is that really the case?

The Reel that caused a ruckus

I scoured the internet, choosing sites I personally trust for feline health related topics (Cornell Feline Health Center being my favorite, with VCA Animal Hospitals being a close second), and found no proven source for the cause of feline chin acne has been identified. And the “cure” can be just as ambiguous as the cause. When I worked as a veterinary technician we had a standard spiel for chin acne that went something like this…

If you are using plastic bowls at home you should change them to a smooth, nonporous surface such as glass, stainless or ceramic. If you are already using one of those types of bowls, then you need to wash them more often- at least once a or twice a week. You should also remove the dirt with a flea comb or face wipe, and gently scrub the chin with a medicated wipe such as Oxy or Clearasil pads once daily. As the acne subsides, you can decrease your frequency of chin scrubbing- just as you would if you were treating an acne break-out on yourself. If none of this works, systemic (oral) antibiotics can be used if we suspect a bacterial infection

This is basically the same advice that is found on most animal sites today- so it looks like not much has changed. I remember somewhere between a third and half of the cats that presented for this were actually cured by changing bowls or washing them more often. While the other half were not. Well I’m here to tell you, people who commented on the reel about chin acne were ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that what cured their cat will cure anyone else’s and really had no patience for any other possible outcome. It was remarkable how quickly the fighting ensued regarding for instance ceramic bowls vs stainless bowls and which were nonporous! Complete mayhem! It inspired this post, because as you know- Instagram is not the place for long, drawn-out replies and rebuttals. It’s just not.

Here is a moderate case… mostly blackheads, no swelling or oozing…

So basically, my stance has not changed at all, and neither has that of the feline experts (and by now you should know me well enough to know I’m talking about real experts, not your neighbor ‘who has 3 cats.’ Feline chin acne can sometimes, but not always be attributed to the bowls you are using at home, and changing from plastic to stainless, glass, or ceramic may help. Washing your existing bowls frequently may also help. If your cat has a mild case, it’s perfectly okay to try these home remedies first, before consulting your vet. If it doesn’t improve, or even worsens, please make an appointment with your cat’s veterinarian to discuss more options. The life-lesson here is what works for one cat may not work for the other, right?




2 thoughts on ““Do Plastic Bowls Cause Chin Acne”

  1. I loved reading about Cat acne as I never knew that this is what my white cat has, I wash her bowls and dishes daily some of which are melamine so I’m going to stick to China just in case. I did manage to jyst scratch a lot of it off, and Pearl really enjoyed me doing it! It was like little black specs of dirt?? Thanks for all your info, I’ve learnt loads, love Meli and Pearl and Fernando 😻


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