by Nomi Berger
Scooting (the act of a pet dragging his/her bum along the ground) may be seen more often in dogs, but cats sometimes scoot as well – usually when their rears are itchy or irritated.
One of the more common causes of this phenomenon is intestinal parasites, particularly tapeworms. Whereas tapeworms can be seen in your cat’s poop (they look like grains of white rice), some parasites are invisible to the naked eye. Other signs of a parasite infestation include diarrhea or constipation, weight loss and a potbelly.
If your cat suffers from allergies – most often environmental — that cause itchy skin, the itchiness can extend to every area of her body, including her bum. Various environmental allergies include dust and pollen, mold and mites, even fleas.
Although cats seem to have fewer anal gland issues than dogs, your cat’s sudden scooting may, in fact, indicate a problem with her anal glands. Anal glands, two small internal sacs positioned on either side of the anus that produce a pungent liquid, should, if they’re working properly, express each time your cat poops and remove any fecal bacteria along with it.
Sometimes, though, inflammation keeps this liquid from being expelled. Instead, it builds up inside the sacs where it can become very thick, almost paste like, leading to the sacs being impacted. The result of such extreme discomfort is the sight of your cat scooting along any and all surfaces in an effort to find some relief. If her sacs are impacted, however, and bacteria gets into them, they can become infected and potentially abscess.
To learn why your cat is scooting, bring her promptly to the vet for a thorough physical examination that will include a search for signs of parasites, areas of itchy skin and problems with her anal glands. Your vet will likely do a fecal test and possibly a de-worming especially if diarrhea is involved and check for any kind of perianal or vulvar inflammation infection, including the presence of yeast, which can be extremely itchy.
In short, treating your cat’s scooting depends on the cause. A thorough de-worming should eliminate any irritating intestinal parasites from her system. The prognosis for recovery from an infection of intestinal parasites is good, with most cats being completely cured within several weeks of treatment.
Although allergies may be more complicated to pin down, once the cause has been identified, your vet will be able to prescribe an appropriate treatment such as a topical medication to soothe her itchiness, perhaps even changing the food she eats as well.
If her anal glands are impacted or infected, your vet will express the affected sac(s), flushing out the solidified material, infuse the sac(s) with an anti-inflammatory and have you administer antibiotics orally to her in order to kill the remaining bacteria.
In most cases of impacted anal glands, the original cause of the condition remains a mystery. Some studies show a connection between a primarily wet or canned food diet and scooting, suggesting that cats suffering from recurring bouts of scooting may need a higher content of dry food or food that contains more fiber or bone meal elements to assist in proper bowel expression.