How to Tell If Your Cat Needs Glands Expressed

How to Tell If Your Cat Needs Glands Expressed

Owning a cat comes with a set of responsibilities, and one of them is ensuring their health and well-being. While cats are generally independent creatures, they can experience various health issues, one of which involves their anal glands. Anal gland problems are not uncommon in cats and can lead to discomfort and even serious complications if left unattended. In this article, we will discuss how to tell if your cat needs their glands expressed and what steps to take to ensure their comfort and health.

Understanding Cat Anal Glands

What Are Anal Glands?

Before we delve into how to determine if your cat’s anal glands need expressing, it’s essential to understand what these glands are. Anal glands, also known as anal sacs, are small, pea-shaped glands located on either side of a cat’s anus. They play a vital role in feline communication and marking territory.

Normal Functioning of Anal Glands

In healthy cats, the anal glands empty naturally when they defecate. The fluid released carries a unique scent that acts as a way for cats to communicate with each other and mark their territory. However, problems can arise when these glands do not empty correctly.

Signs That Your Cat Needs Glands Expressed

Persistent Scooting or Dragging

One of the most common signs that your cat’s anal glands may need expressing is persistent scooting or dragging their rear end across the floor. When the anal glands are full, it can cause discomfort, and your cat may try to relieve it by dragging their bottom.

Excessive Licking of the Rear End

If your cat is continuously licking their rear end, it might be an indication of anal gland issues. Cats instinctively try to soothe the discomfort caused by the full glands, and excessive licking is their way of doing so.

Foul Smell

An unpleasant, fishy odor around your cat’s rear end could be a strong indicator of anal gland problems. The foul smell is a result of the fluid buildup within the glands.

Visible Swelling or Abscess

In more severe cases, the anal glands may become swollen or develop an abscess. If you notice any lumps or swelling around your cat’s anus, it’s essential to have them examined by a veterinarian promptly.

Taking Action: How to Express Cat’s Anal Glands

Consult Your Veterinarian

If you suspect that your cat’s anal glands need expressing or if you notice any of the signs mentioned earlier, the first step is to consult your veterinarian. They can confirm the issue and show you the proper technique for gland expression or perform the procedure themselves.

Expressing Anal Glands at Home

If your veterinarian instructs you on how to express the anal glands at home, it’s crucial to follow their guidance carefully. Keep in mind that expressing the glands is a delicate procedure and should only be done when necessary.

Preventative Measures for Anal Gland Issues

High-Fiber Diet

A high-fiber diet can help promote regular bowel movements, making it less likely for your cat’s anal glands to become impacted. Consult your veterinarian to find the best dietary options for your feline friend.

Regular Vet Checkups

Regular veterinary checkups are essential for monitoring your cat’s health and catching any potential anal gland issues early on. Your vet can examine the glands during routine checkups and address any problems proactively.

Grooming and Hygiene

Keeping your cat’s rear end clean is essential for preventing potential issues with their anal glands. Regular grooming can help you spot any abnormalities early on.


As a responsible cat owner, it’s crucial to be attentive to your feline friend’s health and well-being. Understanding the signs that indicate your cat needs their glands expressed can prevent discomfort and potential complications. If you notice any of the signs mentioned, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian for proper guidance and care.


  1. What causes anal gland issues in cats?
    Anal gland issues in cats can result from a variety of factors, including poor diet, obesity, or underlying health conditions.

  2. Can I express my cat’s anal glands myself?
    Expressing anal glands should ideally be done by a trained professional, such as a veterinarian. However, if your vet shows you the correct technique, you can do it at home under their guidance.

  3. Is scooting always a sign of anal gland problems?
    While scooting can be a sign of anal gland issues, it’s essential to consider other potential reasons, such as gastrointestinal problems or skin irritations.

  4. Can anal gland problems be prevented?
    While not all issues can be prevented, maintaining a healthy diet, regular checkups, and proper grooming can reduce the risk of anal gland problems in cats.

  5. Are anal gland problems life-threatening?
    In most cases, anal gland issues can be treated successfully. However, if left untreated, they can lead to infections or abscesses, which can become more serious if not addressed promptly.

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