Scooting in cats

Scooting is less common in cats than in dogs. While occasionally harmless, scooting can indicate underlying issues like anal gland problems. Some cases may self-resolve within 24 hours, but if it persists, veterinary attention is essential.

The most common cause of anal gland problems is an itchy bottom caused by allergies. Also known as dragging or rubbing their bottoms, you will likely see your cat licking the area more often too. This behaviour needs attention to address the potential health issues and discomfort.


What to do

What you should do if your cat is scooting

Check their bottom

  • Is anything stuck there?
  • Is their bottom red, is there a lump or can you see any wounds?

Gather more information

  • Do they seem painful?
  • Are they struggling to poo?
  • Can they sit properly?
  • Is there a bad smell coming from their rear end?
  • Is this an ongoing problem or is it new?


If your cat is scooting but is not painful, it’s a new problem, and they are otherwise well and pooing as usual:

  • Monitor them for the next 24 hours.
  • Clean the bottom with a wet towel, without any soap or anti-septic solutions.
  • Distract them with play.
  • Check if they are due a worm treatment.

If it continues, take them to your local vet.



Why is your cat scooting?

Scooting can be a cat’s way of trying to alleviate an itch, irritation, or pain in their bottom, known as the perianal area. You’ll probably see licking at this area too.

Many different reasons can explain your cat’s discomfort in that region.

The most common causes include:

Many cats with itchy bums and anal gland disorders have an underlying allergy problem, so if you’re worried about your cat’s itchy bum, talk to a vet.


When to worry

When you should be worried about your cat scooting

Seek help from a veterinary practice if your cat is:

  • Painful
  • Struggling to pass stool
  • Not able to settle

Joii can help if you:

  • Are unsure if your cat has anal gland symptoms
  • See any abnormalities around your cat’s bottom
  • Have any questions regarding your cat’s diet or supplements



How to prevent scooting in cats

  • Keep your cat up to date with deworming tablets.
  • Provide your cat with good-quality and balanced food.
  • Talk to your vet if your cat is also grooming excessively. An itchy bottom can easily be a sign of an allergy.



How to know if your cat is bothered about their bum

Symptoms include:

  • Dragging their bottom on the floor
  • Licking their bottom excessively


Home treatment

How to treat a scooting cat at home

Something is stuck

Use warm water to soften the material, try to cut it off if possible.

If your cat is trying to pass a hard stool, increase their water intake and give them wet food only for that day.

Full anal glands

If your cat’s glands are full but they are not in pain and there are no wounds or lumps. Apply a warm compress for 5-10 minutes, twice or three times a day.

Red bum

If you see redness on their bum, they’re not in pain, and there are no wounds or lumps. Consider cleaning the area with a wet towel (without any soap or products) and applying a thin layer of sudocrem.


If you can see parasites or know they are due, offer them their usual deworming.

  • Call a vet if your cat does not improve within 24 hours after following the above tips.


Vet treatment

Vet treatment for scooting in cats

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause.

Common treatment will include:

Blocked anal glands

If they are simply full, your vet will empty the glands, and the symptoms should resolve within 24-48 hours.

If they are impacted, depending on the severity, the glands may also need flushing under sedation.

Other anal gland disorders

Can include infections, abscesses, fistulas and tumours. Treatment will depend on the problem but may include antibiotics, pain relief and, in some cases, surgery.

Food management

Introducing a medical prescription diet may be important not just to improve the quality and fibre intake of your dog, but to cover any underlying diseases.

There are different available brands and more ranges depending on your dog’s needs and underlying medical condition: Hill’s GI Biome, Hill’s z/d or Hill’s Derm Complete.

Speak to a vet for advice.

Skin and food allergies

A multimodal treatment approach usually includes anti-itch medication, skin barrier support and parasite prevention.

Find out more in our skin and food allergies articles.

Intestinal parasites

The frequency of treatment will depend on the type of medication you have available.

It’s usually given every three months, but some prescription dewormers that cover a wider range of parasites need to be given monthly.



Are some cats more at risk of scooting than others?

Cats prone to anal gland problems have an increased risk of scooting. This includes cats with:

  • Low-quality or inadequate diets (especially those low in fibre)
  • Soft stools, diarrhoea, and infrequent bowel movements
  • Skin and food allergies
  • Obesity

Body Condition Score (BCS) is a scale that gives a practical evaluation of the fat coverage of your cat’s body. By checking how easy or not it is to feel certain bony areas of the body, a score is then produced. There are several scales, from 1 to 5 or 1 to 9. The ideal body condition lies in the middle, so either 3/5 or 5/9.

The body areas normally checked for fat coverage are:

1. ribs and spine

2. hips and shoulders

3. waist

Body condition scoring (BCS) in cats

Here are a few tips on how to do it.

With your pet in a standing position:

  • Place your hands on the rib cage and gently feel for each rib, without pressing too hard
  • Feel the waist and look from the top and the side (if you have a very furry breed, it may be harder to assess)
  • Feel the spine, which runs down the middle of the back
  • Feel the top of the hips and shoulders

If you need help reducing your cat’s weight, reach out to a vet nurse.

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