What are Anal Sac Disorders?
If your cat has any anal sac disorder, you will notice him scooting or dragging his rear end on the floor, licking or chewing the area around his tail, and straining to defecate. In some cases, there may be swelling near the anus as well. Anal sac disorders can lead to a lot of discomfort for your cat, so take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible for treatment.
Every cat has two anal glands near the anus that produce a potent substance that exits the body during defecation. The primary purpose of these anal sacs is to help animals mark their territory when defecating. However, a number of issues, including impaction, infection, and the formation of an abscess can affect a cat’s anal glands. Impaction occurs when the anal secretion becomes clogged inside the sac, while infection and abscesses develop due to bacteria inside the anal sac.
Symptoms of Anal Sac Disorders in Cats
There are three main anal sac disorders that cats may develop, including impaction, infection, and the formation of an abscess. The symptoms of these three disorders are quite similar, and may include:
- Dragging the bottom across the floor
- Attempting to bite or reach his tail more than usual
- Excessively licking or chewing the area near the tail
- Straining during defecation
- Swelling around the anus
Causes of Anal Sac Disorders in Cats
The exact cause of impaction of the anal sac is unknown. However, many veterinarians believe there are some factors that increase your cat’s chance of developing this disorder. These factors include soft feces, diarrhea, and weak anal muscles. Infection and abscesses occur when bacteria makes its way into the anal gland.
Diagnosis of Anal Sac Disorders in Cats
If you notice any of these symptoms, bring your cat into a veterinarian as soon as possible. Describe the symptoms you have observed in as much detail as possible. The vet will also need to know when the symptoms began.
Based on your description, the vet will know there is a problem with your cat’s anal sac, however, he will not know whether it is impaction, infection, or an abscess without performing a rectal examination.
The vet should be able to make a diagnosis by looking at the secretion of the anal glands. If there is no issue with the anal sac, the secretion will be pale yellow or clear. However, if your cat has an impacted anal sac, the secretion will be brown and thick. If it’s infected or has an abscess, the secretion will lean more towards a reddish-brown color. The vet may take a sample of the secretion and culture it if he believes there is an infection. If there is any swelling, this will also help the vet identify the presence of an abscess.
Treatment of Anal Sac Disorders in Cats
If your cat’s glands are impacted, the vet will need to “express,” or empty them. To do so, the vet will need to apply pressure to the gland with his hands until the contents of the sac begin to empty out. This can usually be done fairly quickly, but if the cat seems like he is in pain, the vet may give him a tranquilizer or painkiller prior to performing the procedure.
If there is an infection in the anal sac, the glands will need to be expressed, and the cat will need antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria from his system. Antibiotics may be administered directly in the sac to flush out bacteria, orally, or both, depending on the severity of your cat’s condition.
An abscess will need to be lanced to drain fluid, and then treated with antibiotics. In some cases, especially if the abscess has ruptured or if your cat has had multiple issues with his anal sacs, the vet may suggest surgically removing your cat’s anal sacs. There are several complications with this surgery, so it is only used as a last resort when other treatments are not effective.
Recovery of Anal Sac Disorders in Cats
If your cat was given antibiotics as part of his treatment, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully and administer them exactly as directed.
Talk to your vet about whether you need to add more fiber to your cat’s diet. The vet may suggest doing so in order to bulk up the cat’s feces, since bulkier stool puts more pressure on the gland and forces it to express its contents. This may help prevent future anal sac disorders.
If your cat was treated for an abscess, he may experience pain and swelling after treatment. Apply warm compresses around his tail to help alleviate the pain and discomfort. You should also ask your vet whether your will need to put a recovery collar on your cat to prevent him from licking the area while it heals.