A closer look: Anal Scooting in Cats
Scooting is often completely harmless and no cause for medical concern. When other symptoms such as changes in the appearance of the skin around the perineal area are present, it may be related to an underlying medical condition. Anal scooting varies in frequency. The frequency of scooting events is not a reflection of the severity of the underlying condition, if there is one present at all.
The causes of anal scooting vary immensely in cats as this behavior is caused by anything which irritates the anal, perineal, or rectal area. One common cause is anal gland discomfort. Anal glands act to secrete scent-marking liquid with bowel movements. In some cases, anal glands can become too full, causing discomfort.
In addition, scooting may be associated with passing something rough or abrasive (bones, hair, fabric, etc.) or dirt or an irritant in the hair around the anus.
Anal scooting on its own is not always a cause for concern, as it may indicate an itch. If the scooting is excessive or is accompanied by additional symptoms, then it is best to seek prompt veterinary advice to resolve the discomfort causing the cat to scoot.
Testing and diagnosis
Diagnosis begins with a physical examination and a medical history. In addition, a number of tests can be ordered to determine the root cause, including
- Blood work
- Fecal examination and culture
- Imaging (x ray, ultrasound)
Treatment varies depending on the root cause of the scooting, but may include:
- Expression of the anal glands
- Allergy medication
- Diet change
- Parasite control
- Palliative care
Anal scooting is self-evident, and difficult to mistake for other symptoms.