Anal Sac Problems

“Scooting” or the act of dragging or rubbing the anal area on a carpet or floor is usually seen for one of two reasons – tapeworms or anal sac problems.

Anal sacs are two small glands which are located on opposite sides of the anus. These sacs connect to the anus through small ducts and produce a dark, foul-smelling material. The sacs are just inside of the anus and are similar to skunk’s scent glands. It is thought that these glands were once used for scent marking. Domesticated cats, although they still retain anal sacs in a less-developed form, have lost the ability to “express” or empty the glands voluntarily. Cats generally express their anal sacs involuntarily when they defecate. When the anal sacs are not expressed properly anal sac problems can occur.

Symptoms to look for:

  • Scooting
  • Excessive licking of the anus
  • Scratching around the tail region

Treatment:

Anal sacs are considered to be impacted when the sacs become clogged causing the material inside to solidify and thicken. This will produce an irritation and inflammation resulting in pain and itchiness in the anal region. The treatment for impaction is to have your vet manually express the anal sacs to clean out the impacted material.

As the solidified material increases and impaction continues bacteria grow and proliferate in the sacs. This can lead to an infection of the sacs. This can be very painful for your cat. An infected sac must be emptied by your vet. In addition to this, antibiotics must also be administered to resolve the infection.

If the infection continues an abscess can form. If your cat has an abscessed anal sac the sac may actually rupture such that you will see pus and possibly blood near your cat’s anus. An abscessed sac can be extremely painful for your cat. An abscess will need to be surgically drained, in addition to expression of the glands and administration of antibiotics.

Some cats who have chronic anal sac problems may benefit from having an anal sacculectomy, or their anal sacs removed. If you suspect that your cat has any sort of anal sac problem consult your vet immediately.