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.