Our cats have always eaten their homemade food out of nice ceramic dishes that we got for free or almost free at a yard sale. (Arya is practicing her scary Halloween demon kitty face.)
But apparently, not all cats are so lucky. Michael came home last Friday and told me his workmate’s cat had developed acne, and that her vet said she should stop feeding him from a plastic bowl. Huh? I mean, I’ve heard a lot of negative things about plastic, but that was a really new one for me.
So I Googled “cat acne plastic,” and guess what: it’s conventional wisdom (although I haven’t found a definitive source) that cats can develop acne on their chins from eating out of plastic bowls. (Dogs, too! Google “dog acne plastic.”)
Dirty Plastic Bowls
According to About.com:Cats:
Plastic food dishes have long been suspected as a culprit in chin acne. Plastic is a magnet for bacteria and dirt that work their way into scratches and nicks, reinfecting your cat and/or spreading bacteria to other cats in the household. Veterinarians and other feline experts recommend using only glass or metal food bowls, and daily washing of those, in order to help prevent this common condition.
It does make sense. Plastic is lipophyllic, meaning that it attracts oils. Have you noticed how hard it can be to clean grease off of plastic? And once plastic is roughed up a bit, it’s even harder to clean. Our ceramic dishes, on the other hand, clean up beautifully.
Also, some pets are allergic to plastic, and what appears to be acne is actually an allergic reaction. According to The Humane Society’s Complete Guide to Cat Care:
Many cats are allergic to plastic. Replace plastic food and water bowls with stainless steel, U.S.-made ceramic (glazes on foreign made ceramics often contain lead), or heavy glass. If your cat habitually lounges on plastic surfaces, drape his favorite spots with thick, soft towels to prevent skin contact. Plastic allergies are often betrayed by outbreaks of rashes or raised, itchy patches on your cat’s throat, neck and chin — where he touches his food and water bowls.
Maybe the reason for pet breakouts is bacteria trapped in plastic, and maybe it’s plastic allergies, but I want to suggest another reason: leaching chemicals. Okay, don’t quote me on this! I haven’t found any studies definitively linking the chemicals in plastic to outbreaks of acne, but consider this: many plastics contain hormone-disruptors like bisphenol-a and phthalates. And changes in hormones are a major cause of acne.
I don’t know if the chemicals in plastic affect hormones in such a way as to promote acne or if they might even do the opposite. Biosphenol-A, in fact, mimics estrogen, not the male hormones associated with acne. But I’m just tossing the idea out there that we’ve created this environmental soup of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and no one really knows what the long term affects will be for us or for the animals with which we share this planet. Why wait to find out? Let’s just stop feeding ourselves and our loved ones, including 4-legged ones, out of plastic.