Help ? My Cat Keeps Scooting

CatChannel veterinary expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, discusses ways to help a cat that scoots on the floor.

By Arnold Plotnick, DVM | Posted: July 23, 2010, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: My cat keeps scooting his butt across the floor. We have had him for almost two years now and he has been doing it the entire time, off and on. We keep taking him to the vet and they tell me his anal gland is plugged so they “express” it. But then a few weeks later he’s back to doing it again. We have switched to a more high fiber food, as recommended by our vet. He is now on his second bag of the new food and he is still continuing to scoot. I was just wondering what your solution would be and if this is a common problem. I’ve seen dogs do this but never cats until now.

A: The most common cause of scooting the rear end on the floor is indeed an anal gland problem. Cats have two glands just inside the anus. Normally, the small amount of material that accumulates in the glands will be secreted when cats defecate. Sometimes, however, the anal gland secretion becomes thick and pasty. As the material builds up, it causes the gland to become distended and uncomfortable. Cats try to relieve the distension of the gland by scooting their rear ends on the floor in an attempt to put pressure on the gland. This rarely works, and the glands need to be expressed manually, by your veterinarian. Owners can be taught to do this at home, but it can be tricky to learn, and many cat owners do not feel comfortable expressing the anal gland.

High fiber diets are recommended in cases like this. They add bulk to the stool, and the large piece of stool may put enough pressure on the gland so that the glands stay relatively empty. It doesn’t seem to be working for your cat, however. I think you have three options:  continue to take your cat to the vet for this procedure; learn to do it yourself;  or consider surgical removal of the anal glands.  Surgery should be a last option, however. Anal gland removal in cats is uncommonly done in practice (I myself have never done this surgery, in 21 years of practice). It should be done by a board-certified, experienced surgeon, if the need ever arises.

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Help ? My Cat Keeps Scooting

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Reader Comments

tzm    merced, CA

8/9/2014 8:09:49 PM

from tzm, merced, sorry! i meant I put her on a dry food with NO corn and it resolved the problem. her previous dry food had corn.

tzm    merced, CA

8/9/2014 8:06:01 PM

My cat used to get black greasy "stuff" around her anus all the time and I would have to give her "butt baths". the vet told me that her anal glands need to be expressed. Later because she licks her fur off I heard that some animals have a corn allergy. I put her on a dry food with corn and magic! after a little while no more black stuff, problem solved. you could give it a try...

Linda    Clearwater, FL

12/24/2010 2:04:02 PM

My 7 yr old female had her anal glands removed, but still scoots daily causing streaks on the carpet. Do cats lick themselves in that area to clean up? Perhaps my cat is too overweight to reach it and therefore scoots. Any advice?

r.c    westminster, CA

8/16/2010 4:28:18 PM

for constipation, this truly works wonders. organic pumpkin from your
health food store, not the pie type. add a little to their food daily at first.
if it's a large can, you can freeze some in a special freezer bag and thaw when
needed. pumpkin also works very well with diarrhea when all other health
issues have been ruled out.

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