Anal gland disease in cats is a very common disorder that can very quickly turn into a serious condition if it is not treated as soon as you discover the symptoms.
It can cause your cat to begin to scoot or rub along the floor, and in most cases they can become extremely reluctant to sit down.
If this condition starts to become infected, it can also cause your cat to begin to strain when defecating as well as developing a very painful swelling around their anus.
Anal gland disease in cats, also known as impaction, is most often related to dogs but your cat is every bit as likely to contract it as a dog.
The anal glands in your cat, also called sacs, if they become impacted than become extremely prone to infections as well as abscesses.
Once they become abscessed, your cats overall health is now in danger.
The anal glands in your cat are located near the anus, also known as the rectum.
When you view your cat from behind they would be located in the 4 o’clock and the 8 o’clock position.
There is a very tiny duct that leads from under your cat’s skin to an opening directly behind their anus.
All feline and canine predators, both wild as well as domestic, have these glands; however, they all use them differently.
If your cat was a skunk, they would be used for defense, while dogs use it for territory markings.
Cats do not necessarily use them as territory markings, as that is usually done with urine.
However, every time your cat passes a stool, it places pressure on these glands and as a result some of their secretion is placed on the surface of the stool.
By doing this, other cats as well as dogs are able to tell when your cat has been in their neighborhood or territory.
This is also the reason when cat’s first meet they will smell the anus area as they are checking for this scent.
However, one thing that is not commonly known is that this secretion in your cat is also released when your cat becomes either alarmed or frightened.
These secretions are very pungent, and are usually yellow in color with very small brown flakes.
There are several causes of anal gland disease in cats, as impaction is just one of the forms.
Some cats can live their entire life and never have a problem with any type of a gland disease, while other cats may be subject to them every four to six weeks.
They can also range in degrees of severity as it may very mild or so serious that they can and often do lead to tumors.
This usually occurs if they become abscessed and rupture.
To help in understanding the causes, it helps to understand exactly how impacting and disease can develop in these glands.
Your cats glands secretions will vary in thickness or their stools may become soft, and as a result, it clogs or impacts the glands.
Once this occurs, it is really not a painful situation for your pet, but this is when they will begin to scoot or drag their rear end along the floor.
This is a natural instinct in an attempt to unclog them.
However, if a bacterium enters into the glands through their ducts, they start to become painful.
If your cat starts to bite or scratch, it has become extremely painful for your pet.
The most common cause of anal gland disease in cats is from anal sac impaction.
This is almost always the result of large amounts of very thick secretions that have developed.
As a result of this, your cat is not able eliminate the secretion during defecation.
Once this occurs, your cats sacs become either distended or infected in some cases.
With this form of infection, the only symptom that you will see is scooting or excessive licking.
More Potential Causes
The next common of anal gland disease in cats is from a condition known as anal sacculitis.
This is a situation where your cat’s anal sac actually becomes inflamed and is the result of impaction as well as bacterial infections.
Because of the bacterial infection, it is much more painful for your cat.
The symptoms that you will see with this form are scooting as well as a very pronounced excessive licking.
In some cases, your cat may also begin to strain while defecating and may also not be willing or able to sit simply because it is too painful.
The next potential cause of anal gland disease in cats is from an abscess.
This is the result of a bacterial infection and they are the next step up in the pain threshold.
With this form your cat will definitely show signs of scooting, excessive licking, as well as straining.
However, with this form you may also see swelling.
The area around the anus will become red as it inflames, and you may also see a pus discharge, especially if it has ruptured.
Once it has ruptured, it sets the stage for the final form, which is referred to as anal sac tumors.
This is much more serious that any of the other forms, but it can also be very deceptive in nature.
This form of anal gland disease in cats may not be nearly as painful and may not show any signs of redness, but it can be extremely dangerous.
Tumors can very easily lead to an increase in your cats calcium levels.
If this does happen, the first signs you will see in a very sudden increase in your cats drinking and then urination levels.
Once these tumors do develop, they can very easily spread to the sub-lumbar lymph nodes which are located in your cat’s abdomen, directly below the lumbar vertebrae.
If these nodes become enlarged as a direct result of this tumor, it will begin to obstruct the flow of your cat’s feces as it is beginning to place pressure on their colon.
When this occurs, you need to watch for ribbon like stools.
Your cat will show all of the other symptoms, but it is this ribbon like stool that tells you they have developed a tumor.
Treatments for anal gland disease in cats will depend on the severity and which form it has taken.
The first form of treatment will be your veterinarian or groomer cleaning out the glands.
If you have the stomach for it, it is really not that difficult.
You simply apply pressure with your finger starting below the gland and then working upwards.
It is a very simple process but there is one drawback; it has a horrible odor and can be very messy if you are not prepared.
If it has become abscessed, it will need to be lanced by your veterinarian.
If this is done, antibiotics will be given for seven to ten days as well as treatments with warm compresses.
This is usually very successful, but it does poise a risk. If any of the tissue is permanently scarred, it can cause incontinence.
If it is a tumor, the gland will have to be removed.
Once removed and if the tumor does not come back, your cat will never have this problem again.
Anal gland disease in cats can range from extremely mild to very severe. If it is mild, you may never know your cat has any problem.
However, if it does start to become worse, understanding the symptoms and reacting very quickly can prevent it from becoming a very painful situation for your cat.