Signs of Internal Abdominal Distress

A cat's abnormal activities may signal an underlying disease.

By J. Veronika Kiklevich, DVM | Posted: Tue Jul 12 00:00:00 PDT 2005

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Q. Our cat keeps looking left toward her hindquarters, as though something is wrong. She has begun to circle to the left as though she is trying to get to her tail. She has been treated for fleas and ticks, which we thought would alleviate any parasite problems. If you touch her left hindquarters, she meows while turning in a left circle. We're wondering if she has a gland that needs to be expressed?

Also, could it be that a gradual change in diet has constipated her? We took her to a veterinarian a few of weeks ago and they did not see any problems, since she did not move toward the left while she was there. The turn-to-the-left happens every couple of days and occasionally everyday. We are concerned, since this has become an off and on occurrence and we don't know what to do, yet she doesn't seem to be in any pain, just uncomfortable and anxious while moving and looking back toward the left. If you believe that this is caused by a glandular problem, what is the next step? We believe she is around 18 years old. Any assistance that you can provide will be greatly appreciated. 

A. I think that the idea of your cat having an anal gland problem is worth investigating, and I would hope that your veterinarian checked her anal glands based on your concerns. If he or she did not, I would ask them to check it out. It is not common for cats to have problematic anal gland problems, but that doesn't mean this is not the source of your cat's problem. Anal glands are fairly difficult to empty (we call it expressing them), so I would not recommend that you try it at home.

That being said, if the anal glands were normal I would then consider other causes of this behavior. Sometimes cats with internal abdominal problems will display the same signs and you might need to have blood work and/or abdominal radiographs performed to search for a cause.

Also, the possibility exists that the symptoms could be a seizure activity and it is very important that your veterinarian performs a careful neurological examination. Often if an animal (cat or dog) is exhibiting a particular behavior at home (that I do not see in the clinic) I'll have the owner videotape the distressing behavior at home, just so I can observe more closely, which is valuable in diagnosing the cat's behavior.

If you have access to a video camera I would suggest that you do this before seeing your veterinarian again.

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Signs of Internal Abdominal Distress

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Reader Comments

S    Three Oaks, MI

7/24/2010 1:33:35 PM

Anal glands are weird.

michael    estero, FL

8/2/2009 10:49:37 AM

i have a 9 year old cat that needs antibotics and wonder if penicillin is ok

Linda    Mandeville, LA

12/16/2008 7:39:17 PM

Good article.

janet    bethlehem, PA

4/2/2008 4:40:03 AM

interesting thanks for the info

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