Your kitty has two anal glands in his rear, which emit a stinky fluid when he goes potty that he uses to mark his territory. In some cases, these glands will become stopped up, causing your furry friend some pain, irritation and discomfort, requiring a trip to the vet.
The Anal Glands
The two small, pea-sized anal glands are located at the 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock positions around the edge of the anus, according to WebMD. Typically, your kitty will expel the fluid in these glands when his feces squeeze past them during elimination. He may also spray the fluid when he gets excited or scared. Sometimes, though, if he has loose stool regularly, the feces won't actually press on the glands and they won't empty. If the fluid sits inside the glands without being sprayed out, it will become thick enough that it won't fit through the small openings of the glands. This causes the thickened fluid to build up in the glands, leading to an impaction or an infection.
The most obvious sign of anal gland impaction in your kitty is scooting. If you notice your furry friend rubbing his backside along the floor, he's trying to scratch the area because it's itchy. Anal glands that are stopped up become swollen, itchy and painful for your furry friend. You might also see him incessantly licking and biting at the area because of this. Check his back end and look for signs of redness or swelling. Your kitty might become constipated and show signs of straining or crying while in the litter box. The pain of the glands can cause him to eliminate outside of his litter box. There may also be a foul odor coming from the anal area.
What To Do
Impacted anal glands require veterinary care to empty them and deal with any infections that may have developed because of them. Your vet will examine and feel the area for signs of impaction and may take X-rays to see if there are any infections present. In simple cases, your vet will be able to manually squeeze the anal sacs to empty them, relieving the impaction. If an infection is present, he may have to empty the sacs several times over the course of a few days, while applying antibiotic ointments to them or he may prescribe your kitty an oral antibiotic. Sometimes an abscess may form in the area and he'll drain that before prescribing antibiotics and other treatments that you'll need to apply to the area at home.
Follow your veterinarian's instructions for treating any infection or abscess of the anal glands. Bring your furry friend back to the vet for a follow-up visit to ensure that everything has healed correctly. If your cat's anal sacs are constantly becoming impacted, your vet may recommend surgery to remove them, according to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Have your vet check the sacs during your kitty's yearly or twice-yearly visits to keep them from becoming impacted. Feeding your kitty a high fiber diet can bulk up his stool, ensuring that the sacs are emptied during defecation, recommends PetWave. This type of diet may also help your kitty to maintain a healthy weight, because overweight furballs tend to have more anal sac problems than those of a healthy size.
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.