Butt Dragging

Anal gland disease & the itchy rear end.



My indoor pet Siamese cat has recently began dragging her butt across the floor.  She has never been outdoors, and I really am clueless as to the cause of the problem. What could be causing this?


Dr. Nichol:

Mmmmm. Sounds like me after a tough week at the animal hospital. Maybe she just needs a vacation. Oh, I forgot. Cats are always on vacation.


OK, let’s talk about physical reasons for this rather socially unacceptable behavior. For starters I’ll tell you what is not going on: she does not have worms. The type of worm associated with anal irritation is pinworms. There are two species: one is a parasite of horses, the other a cause of unending embarrassment for the parents of elementary school children. I will avoid that subject because the Nichol boys are elementary school children who, for the record, are not behaving like your cat.


The reason for your kitty’s itchy rear end is almost certainly her anal glands. Now, this is not a pleasant subject so you may want to finish your granola before you read on. These nasty little structures are similar to the scent glands of the skunk. For cats and dogs they are nothing more than a pain in the … You know what I mean. There is one anal gland on either side the anus. They secrete a foul smelling fluid that normally flows out by itself as the pet goes about its daily life. But your unlucky cat has anal glands that have become full and may even be infected. If we don’t empty them for her she may develop a drainage of pus as her body tries to rid itself of this mess.


Your job is to take your kitty to her doctor soon to have those glands emptied. If they are infected an ointment will be infused and antibiotics will be dispensed. Then life will go on and, hopefully, she’ll never look back.





“Dripping” on Client causes thoughts of Euthanasia


I have a 3-year-old cat named Effie. She gets very affectionate and then “sprays” or “drips” a terrible whitish/clear liquid out of her behind. It’s disgusting. It makes me not want to pet her lest she become “happy” and start dripping. What can I do? I hate to have to put her to sleep.


Dr. Nichol:

Effie’s problem is mighty rude but it is curable. Her nemesis is a pair nasty little glands on her rear end called anal glands. Located on either side of the anus, these revolting structures secrete a foul smelling fluid that skunks use to announce their arrival at special events. All cats and dogs are born with similar anatomy. Poor Effie will never ingratiate her way into polite society unless there is a major change.


Your veterinarian can quickly and easily empty Effie’s anal glands but, with time, they will refill. For a permanent cure they can be surgically removed. Since they serve no useful purpose, and can become infected, any pet with recurring anal gland problems will do just fine without them. With help, Effie can finally come out of her shell and get a prom date.


Nowadays the great majority of physical diseases and nearly all behavior problems are manageable.

Euthanasia is rarely necessary. Our pets are fortunate that their loving families have this option when their quality of life is gone. The other side of that coin is that putting a pet down can be an easy escape for a troubled pet owner. Effie’s problem is simple to fix. Thanks for getting advice





Anal Gland Secretion on the Sheets-Not Pretty


We have a spayed female cat about two years old.  She gets a liquid discharge from her rear end that is clear, but stinks to high heaven. We wash a lot of bed linens and clothes due to this problem.

Dr. Nichol:

And here cats are supposed to be clean and dainty. Well this sure bursts my bubble. OK, here’s the dirty little secret on cats’ rear ends: they have anal glands-just like dogs. Located just beneath the skin in the 4 and 8 o’clock positions on either side of the anus, they secrete a foul smelling fluid. In most cases it leaks out a little at a time as a creature so equipped goes about his or her daily business. But in the unfortunate few, the fluid accumulates and squirts out all at once. It isn’t pretty. Considered by some to be an evolutionary vestige, anal glands are best known in skunks. Members of this odious species are talented at expressing their anal gland fluids at will to repel predators and to be horribly obnoxious outside your bedroom window.


Your poor cat’s anal glands are overflowing. They are a useless bit of anatomy that can become infected or abscessed if not managed soon. If those nasty anal glands become repeat offenders they can be surgically removed.


The simple solution is to have them expressed (emptied) by your veterinarian. It’s easily done right on the exam table. Although it’s never our favorite job we do it because we’re great folks who’ve learned not to stand directly behind the patient during the procedure. I encourage you to act quickly. Your cat is already dying slowly from embarrassment.






My six year old neutered male short-haired cat sits down and drags his rear end across the carpet. How can I alleviate his obvious discomfort and end this disgusting behavior?

Dr. Nichol:

Your cat is behaving in a socially unacceptable manner because his anal glands are itching something serious. Situated on either side of the anus every cat and dog comes equipped with these nasty accessories. Like the scent glands of skunks, they produce a vile smelling fluid that normally passes with bowel movements. If a blockage or infection occurs, events turn ugly. This is not an ideal topic for breakfast table discussion but, hey, you asked.


Anal glands aren’t located in the cleanest of neighborhoods. The bacteria living inside them mind their own business until the secretions stop flowing. An infection can lead to an abscess resulting, in some cases, in a draining tract on the rear end.


Your veterinarian can clean and irrigate your kitty’s unhappy anal glands and infuse them with an ointment. Antibiotics will also help. Most pets move on and leave their pasts behind them. But if those anal glands become repeat offenders they can be surgically removed. Your cat doesn’t need them and, so far, they’ve been nothing but a disgusting embarrassment.