Aby-a-Day – September 15: Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin

I don’t know what it is about Abys, but they definitely seem more prone to chin acne than the other breeds I’ve known and lived with. Put it to you this way: I’ve had three Abys, and all three of them had at some point chin acne bad enough to see the vet. Angel was actually on hypo-allergenic food for a while. By comparison, of the five Siamese and Siamese mixes, only one had acne at all, and it was a mild, albeit chronic, case. Of the 25 or so mixed breeds, only one of my sister’s cats had an acne issue. Slightly skewed sampling, I’ll give you, but we’re batting 1000 on Abys and acne.

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Last Sunday, I noticed Jacoby had an extreme case of acne brewing on his chin. It actually didn’t look that bad; there weren’t a lot of the “black crusties” that look like flea dirts that one associates with chin acne.

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But oh, when you felt his chin, it was a solid mass of little bumps! Poor little guy, it must have hurt quite a bit. We’d noticed he seemed a little subdued, hiding away and not eating as vigourously as usual, so when I felt all those bumps, it suddenly made sense. Even though it’s “just zits,” it’s still a bacterial infection, and I know when I have a bad pimple, it makes me feel crappy overall, just like a cold does.

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I have a “kitty acne arsenal” that I use on Jake and Angel when they have flare-ups: Stridex pads, Bacitracin, benzoyl peroxide, all the usual tools. But this seemed much more severe, and I wanted to make sure his chin really got cleaned well.

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I have one of those Olay cleansing system power brushes to wash my face, and I love it. The little brush head is very soft and gentle, but it seems to really clean my face and get rid of make-up and city grime. And they’re replaceable. So, I decided to give it a try on Jake’s poor chin.

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I created a special cleanser for Jake’s chin using F & T Degreasing Shampoo, benzoyl peroxide facial cleanser, anti-bacterial hand soap and Angel’s anti-dandruff shampoo, and put a little on the brush with some warm water.

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He didn’t seem to mind it! I think he liked the way the brush felt on his chin. It must have been kind of soothing and, if his chin was at all itchy, I’ll bet it kind of gently scratched it for him.

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Still, cleaning his chin was only half the battle. I still made an appointment to see the vet. Chris from Instincts Cattery recommended Neo-Predef with Tetracaine powder, which I hadn’t heard of before – and then I Googled it and found Norm Auspitz recommending it to someone on AllExperts.com, where’s he’s their resident cat expert! I’m always amazed and humbled by what I don’t know, so I made a note to ask Dr. Natalie about it when we went in on Tuesday.

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Of course, I went and looked up Neo-Predef with Tetracaine powder on Pfizer’s website. It’s interesting stuff; it’s similar to cocaine, but without the euphoric and addictive qualities. It’s used quite a bit in veterinary medicine after neutering, and other amputation surgeries.

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However, while I was on Pfizer’s website, I made an even more interesting discovery: an injectible antibiotic called Convenia that’s especially suited for bacterial skin infections and abcesses. When I’ve had a bad case of acne or folliculitis, I’ve been prescribed antibiotics by my doctor, and since Jake’s chin, and by extension his mouth in general, was sore from the acne, trying to shove pills down his throat seemed like it would just cause him more discomfort. There are some problems with Convenia, as it happens, which may or may not be because it’s so much easier to deal with than pills that it’s getting over-prescribed. In the case of Jake’s acne, it seemed like something to ask about, since one of the infections it does treat well is skin infections and abcesses.

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Dr. Natalie confirmed my theory and thought that Convenia would be a good treatment for Jake’s chin. She also hadn’t heard of Neo-Predef being used for chin acne, but she said, “Maybe we should listen to the breeders more on things like this, since they’re out there in the trenches, dealing with this stuff all the time.” I like the way she thinks!

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It’s been a couple of days now and Jake’s chin seems much better. He is becoming less fond of the scrubbing brush, so that’s a good sign. I can still feel the zits and he’s got one that’s pretty bad, but he’s getting less lumpy and more black bits, so I think it’s on it’s way. I’m relieved; the show in Groton, CT is at the end of the month, and I was afraid we’d have to shave his chin. At least that doesn’t seem like it’s going to have to happen.

Chin Acne

Angel has the worst case of chin acne I have ever seen; I thought Gun-Hee’s was bad but it was nothing compared to Angel’s. Her entire chin is black, and of course, she doesn’t like me to flea comb the black out, wash her chin with hydrogen peroxide and put on benzoyl peroxide and bacitracin (which is what the vet told me to do for Gun-Hee). I’m taking her to the vet tomorrow to see if there isn’t anything else I can do. I have no idea why she has it. She didn’t have it when I adopted her. And it’s funny because she doesn’t drink from the community waterer and feeder, which are plastic (and which I thought contributed to Gun-Hee’s acne), but she eats in the bedroom from only stainless steel and ceramic dishes. Weird.

She’s getting braver; this is her on the sofa as I type (taken with my iPhone).

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Chin Acne and Teeth

I have to leave work early on Tuesday to take Gun-Hee to the vet; he seems to have feline acne which didn’t seem to be going away through normal means

Patrick’s always had it, but never very bad. Gun-Hee’s is not only more extensive but it bothers him: he scratches his neck.

I started treating it last week; I basically took everything I already knew and beefed it up with some fresh internet research, which ended me up with a regimen of flea-combing the area and applying hydrogen and benzoyl peroxide, Bacitracin, epsom salts, and Malaseb pads and MalAcetic lotion with Hydrocortisone to help the itching (these are special for cats and dogs) which I found on a vet meds site in the course of my research.

But I took him in just in case he needed oral medication, and be be sure it isn’t something other than acne.

Then, too, we have a plastic bulk feeder and water bubbler, so he may have an allergy to plastic; that was the case with my high school cat, Sgt. Pepper (a Siamese and white)but Patrick has it no matter what sort of bowl we use. Kylie, Tessie and Harri have never had a problem. And we kind of don’t want to get rid of those, since they’re convenient for us and them…
It’s rather hard to find bulk feeders that aren’t made of plastic. I could only find this ceramic Pet Well for water, and it’s a bit expensive. For food, there are more choices, but they’re none of them very attractive, and I don’t know that the cats could open them.

Good thing he doesn’t mind going to the vet.

Turns out, I was doing all the right things, and I just needed to keep on it. Which is a reassuring comment on my abilities as cat mom, but which means that there’s nothing else that can be done. While we were there, the vet also looked at Gun-Hee’s teeth. There is one premolar on the left side that isn’t coming out all the way, and the gum nearby is very red. 10 months old, and he still has a tooth coming in. The vet said I should just watch it for now; if the tooth never comes in he may need a gingivectomy to remove the gum that hangs over the tooth; because the tooth isn’t all the way out, there’s a pocket between the gum and the tooth where food can be trapped. It’s not serious, and the fact that I brush his teeth helps. It’s something that would wait until his first major tooth-cleaning, because it needs to be done under general anaesthetics.

He’s up to 8½lbs now; he’s getting to be a big boy!