Rectal Irritation in Cats

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Scooting indicates rectal irritation in cats.
Scooting indicates rectal irritation in cats. (Image: cat face image by Viktor Korpan from Fotolia.com)

Cat’s can exhibit a wide range of behaviors that may seem peculiar or funny to owners. Many of these behaviors are normal and are not causes for worry, but some of them can indicate an underlying medical disorder. One behavior to watch out for is called “scooting,” in which a cat propels himself forward with his bottom. Scooting is a common feline response to rectal irritation, and can indicate a variety of disorders. If your cat is scooting, he should be brought to the veterinarian.

Scooting

According to the website Pet Place, the most common cause of scooting is an anal gland disease. These diseases include: impacted anal glands, anal gland tumors and infected anal glands. Other causes of scooting include: tapeworms, skin parasites, allergic dermatitis (allergies) or moist dermatitis (hot spots).

Anal Glands

According to the website Pet Education, anal glands (or anal sacs) are located on each side of the anal opening. Anal glands are present in all predators and are used to discharge defensive toxins (as in the case of skunks and foxes) or to mark territory and communicate (as in the case of cats and dogs). As stool is secreted, it puts pressure on the anal glands, which deposit the animal’s musk on the excrement, identifying it, like a fingerprint.

Diseases of the Anal Glands

Particularly for domestic cats who are fed a wet diet, are relatively inactive and use a poorly maintained litter box, impacted or infected anal glands are common. According to Vet Info, the opening of the anal gland can become obstructed, leading to a back-up of secretions that can itch and be painful for the cat. As the cat attempts to relieve itself of the pain or itching, he may scoot or excessively scratch or lick at the affected area.

Diagnosis

Cat owners should try to document any strange behaviors, eating changes or changes in defecation or urination for the veterinarian. These kinds of changes can be clues for identifying specific disorders. According to Pet Place, a rectal examination can often identify the source of the cat’s irritation. Sometimes, hair will be clipped or shaved for a closer examination. A fecal exam will reveal the presence of parasites. A mass may be aspirated or biopsied to make a diagnosis.

Treatment

For the treatment of impacted or infected anal glands, a veterinarian will need to express them. This can often be accomplished with mild pressure. For cats with chronic anal gland problems, the glands can be surgically removed. For the treatment of parasites and tapeworms, a veterinarian can prescribe topical creams or pills that will rid the animal of the parasite. For allergies, the cat may need regular allergy medication. If the specific source of the allergy can be found, symptoms can often be relieved by removing the allergen from the environment, according to Vet Info.

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