Did you notice your cat scooting on the carpet or grass recently? There’s something definitely wrong with her. This behavior is called scooting and is also sometimes observable in dogs as well.
The most common cause of scooting in cats is intestinal worms. Other possible reasons may include allergies, flea bites, and anal gland problems. If your cat is scooting, the situation is serious and it should be taken to a veterinarian for examination.
Although this behavior is not classified among the urgent health concerns in cats in most vet handbooks, we recommend that you take your pet to a specialist to help identify the cause and treat it rather than doing it at home.
Causes of cat scooting
Causes of scooting include:
Constipation is a condition where the cat finds it difficult to achieve bowel movements due to the hardness of feces. It may be due to intestinal infestation by worms or an abnormality on the gut that causes excess absorption of water in the intestines.
Constipation can also be caused by not giving your cat enough fluids to meet the body’s water requirements. It can lead to the dryness of the anal area and itching that will make your cat to drag her bottom across the floor to relieve the itch.
Gastrointestinal (GI) parasitism is a common problem in cats, with prevalence rates as high as 45% in some populations.
This means that at any given time, 45% of cats experience worms in their lifetime. It is almost impossible to see worms in the stool of your cat. They can, however, be easily observed by laboratory techniques such as microscopy. Your inability to see the worms in stool does not disqualify the presence of a worm infection.
Worms may become easily visible in stool after de-worming. Nonetheless, you should take your cat to the veterinary office for expert assessment.
Some worms cause severe itching in the anal area especially in the morning as they move in the gut. These movements often make the cat scoot to gain relief from the itch or pain.
There are several factors that can cause an allergic reaction. Environmental factors such as dust, pollen, feathers, animal dander, grasses, and mites are the most common. Food allergies occur when the cat reacts to certain proteins in food and hence are not as common.
Allergies mostly affect the skin and/or coat of cats. When it happens in the skin of the anal region, it may cause unnecessary discomfort and your cat will respond by dragging her butt on your carpet.
Scooting caused by allergies can be managed by medication. Food-related allergic reactions, on the other hand, are best handled by first finding out the exact type of food causing that allergy. Try changing foods to see if it helps.
4. Infected or impacted anal glands
Anal glands secrete a lubricant that is released during defecation. This lubricant facilitates a safe and comfortable process of passing out feces. When the anal glands are impacted, this lubricant is not released with feces resulting in serious pain and itchiness due to increased friction.
Infected glands may also produce poor quality lubricants that won’t yield any profitable friction lowering properties. Infection of the anal gland may cause inflammation and pain which will prompt your cat to scoot.
In fact, anal gland problems have been known to cause even serious health issues in dogs as well, usually resulting in a fishy odor. I spent hours writing a detailed guide on fishy odors in dogs here.
5. Flea bites
Fleas are parasites found in the coat of most cats. Flea bites are very itchy. This itchiness may prompt your cat to scoot. In the process, she may cause more injuries to herself since excess rubbing of areas bitten by fleas can lead to the development of skin wounds and bacterial infections.
Diagnosis is usually done in the office of a veterinarian. The veterinary officer will inquire from you the signs and symptoms that your cat may have been experiencing lately.
These symptoms include diarrhea, difficulty in passing stool, passing stool that contains patches of blood and any other detail you may have observed.
You will also need to inform the vet if your cat is on an ongoing therapy against any parasitic infection that had been diagnosed previously. It is important to also remember the approximate date when your cat was last de-wormed.
Once a satisfactory history has been taken, the vet will assess the limbs and the spine to rule out neurologic involvement or injury. Some injuries have been found to cause paralysis of some body parts of cats.
Your vet will then proceed to check for any signs of inflammation or infection of the anal glands. Usually, an infection in these glands manifest as:
- Swelling and
- Presence of discharge from these glands.
After a physical assessment, the vet will then take stool samples for laboratory analysis to try and locate intestinal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms.
Since it is quite a daunting task to obtain stool samples from cats, you should carry along the most recent stool of your cat.
The procedure for examining stool samples for worm involves placing a little amount of the stool in a special laboratory liquid.
This combination is then prepared by other chemicals and examined under a microscope. The microscope will reveal the presence of eggs, larvae or adult worms.
Treatment for scooting in cats is done based on the underlying condition causing it.
Expressing the anal glands: The most common cause, however, is impacted anal glands. In this case, the veterinary officer will manually press on the glands to remove the contents and alleviate the symptoms.
The fluid from the glands empties out when the vet gently pinches the anus on either side of the orifice.
Deworming the cat: A medication for de-worming will be administered inside the office if the results from the laboratory reveal that the condition is caused by intestinal worms.
You should be aware that most orally administered medications for de-worming will cause diarrhea in your cat for some days after treatment. You should not be worried when that happens.
The vet will also give you some medications to administer while at home to prevent infestation by intestinal parasites.
Anti-itch medications: Topical medications are prescribed if the condition is caused by itchiness due to flea bites or allergies. Medicated shampoos and sprays are the most commonly used for treatment.
Change of diet: If the irritation is caused by allergies, your veterinary officer will advise that you change the diet of your cat. He or she will also give you tips on the appropriate food types that you should be feeding your cat.
Giving an enema for constipation: Your vet may choose to administer an enema to ease constipation and allow your cat to pass stool with ease.
The overall goal of treatment is to alleviate itchiness and discomfort that will make your cat scoot.
Additionally, do not stop administering medications to your cat as prescribed by the vet, even if the symptoms of the condition subside. Failure to finish the dosages may make the condition to recur all over again.
Healing and Recovery
Irrespective of the cause, the prognosis of scooting in cats after treatment is good. Some studies have linked scooting in cats to the consumption of wet or canned food.
To prevent your cat from dragging her bum on the floor or carpet again, avoid feeding your cat wet food. You can feed him or her foods that are dry or foods that are rich in fiber.
You may also consider supplementing the diet with bone meal elements. This type of diet encourages proper bowel movement and alleviates any possibilities of anal gland infection.
Recovery after treatment following an infestation with parasites is the fastest. The condition resolves and the cat gets completely cured within a few weeks of treatment.
The prognosis and recovery from scooting related to allergies are dependent on how swift you change the diet of your cat and how you follow the instructions from your veterinary officer.
Consult extensively when your cat is having allergies so that you can feed your cat with only the most appropriate diet. Allergies can lead to other serious skin conditions hence the need for understanding this concept from your vet.
What to do at home to help your cat stop scooting
The home remedy for scooting in cats is somewhat simple. If you notice that your cat is scooting, simple check the anal area below the tail.
It may be due to the presence of dry feces or some solid particles causing irritation to the skin around the anus.
You can then wash this area gently with warm water and wipe it clean. You can then observe the changes in your cat’s behavior.
If this technique does not correct the condition, report to your veterinary officer as soon as possible so that he or she can make a diagnosis for the underlying condition and prescribe appropriate treatment plans.
Scooting in cats is not very common as it is in dogs. When it happens, it may require medical attention but it is not an urgent complication that should alarm you like other diseases.
The prognosis of the condition after treatment is also good. However, you should take your cat for early treatment to reduce the amount of time taken to heal.
You should also groom your cat appropriately by cleaning his or her anal region and keeping parasites such as fleas and mites away. Proper grooming will also reduce allergies that are caused by environmental factors.