Scooting in Cats

PetMD Editorial
Written by:
PetMD Editorial
Published: March 7, 2016
Updated: July 19, 2022
Scooting in Cats

If you have ever tried to explain the concept of cat scooting to your friends, you probably quickly realized that there is no graceful way to put it. Scooting in cats is simply when your cat is dragging their butt along the carpet or ground.

Scooting, or butt-dragging, is a problem that’s far more common with dogs, but it does occasionally occur with cats. And while it may look funny or strange, cat scooting could signal a medical problem that needs to be addressed.

Why Do Cats Scoot?

Scooting in cats is usually caused when your cat has an itchy rear end and feels the need to scratch it. So why is your cat’s bottom so itchy?

It could be due to several factors, including parasites, impacted anal glands, or allergies. It could also simply be the case that your cat has stool stuck to their anus or within the fur back there.

While scooting in cats is fairly rare, it can still happen, and no particular breed experiences it more than another.

Cat Scooting and Parasites

If your cat is dragging their bottom on the carpet, there's a chance they have worms. Parasitic worms, such as tapeworms, can cause irritation to the posterior area.

If you check your cat's stool for worms, you may not be able to see them. Most worms only become visible in the stool after deworming, and sometimes not even then.

If you do see worms, your cat is likely experiencing discomfort, and you should take them to a vet immediately.

Cat Scooting and Impacted Anal Sacs

All cats have an anal sac on either side of the anus. Inside those sacs is a dark, smelly, slightly oily liquid. This liquid is usually released, or “expressed,” when your cat poops.

When the sacs get clogged, or impacted, they don’t express when your cat goes to the bathroom and the area becomes irritated, potentially causing your cat to scoot.

In severe cases, a cat’s anal sacs can become infected, which is even more painful. If they fill up and create enough pressure, the anal sacs could rupture. Anal sac ruptures are painful and require immediate vet attention.

Cat Scooting and Allergies

Scooting in cats because of allergies is very rare. However, if the vet has ruled out everything else, there is the possibility that there may also be something in or around your home that your cat is allergic to.

Your cat could have environmental allergies, which can be caused by many things, such as dust mites, grasses, molds, or fleas.

They may also be reacting to their food. Food allergies in cats are typically an allergy to a particular protein source, such as chicken or beef.

Your veterinarian can look into these possibilities if they suspect allergies.

Cat Scooting From Stuck Stool

Sometimes the simplest answer is the right one. It could just be that your cat has some poop stuck back there, and they are trying to wipe it off.

This can happen after your cat has diarrhea, or it can be from poor grooming or constipation. Longhaired cats can also get stool stuck in the hair near their rear end.

What to Do If You See Your Cat Scooting

Your cat scooting action plan is pretty simple. Start by taking a close look underneath your cat’s tail.

Take your cat to your vet as soon as possible if you notice:

  • An open wound

  • Discharge

  • A foul odor

  • Redness near your cat’s anus

  • Fur or stool stuck to the anus

If you don’t see any of those, check for any other irritant that could be causing your cat to scoot. If possible, wash gently underneath your cat’s tail and monitor their behavior for continued scooting.

If there’s no obvious culprit and your cat continues to scoot, contact your vet and get your pet checked out.

How Vets Treat Scooting in Cats

Your vet will perform a physical exam to check your cat’s anal sacs for issues and to look for stuck stool and evidence of problem-causing parasites. They will then be able to treat the problem and prescribe antibiotics or anti-itch medications if needed.

Anal Glands: In cases where the anal gland is impacted, the vet will express your cat’s anal glands. For ruptures, they will need to flush out the wound and prescribe antibiotics and possibly pain medications. They may need to stitch up the tear so it can heal. If it is infected, they will leave it open to drain.

Parasites: For parasites, the vet will give your cat a dewormer and recommend keeping your cat on monthly flea and tick prevention.

Food Allergy: If your vet suspects a food allergy, they will likely put your cat on a new diet or do a food trial.

If your cat has repeated episodes, your vet may recommend talking to a veterinary specialist.

Should Your Cat Still Be Scooting After Their Anal Glands Are Expressed?

It is not uncommon for cats to scoot for a day or two after their anal glands were expressed, since this procedure can cause some irritation to the anal area. 

However, that inflammation should resolve fairly quickly, and the scooting should stop within a day or two and not restart. If this is not the case, and your cat continues or starts to scoot several days after their glands were expressed, contact your veterinarian for a follow-up appointment.

Featured Image: iStock.com/Maryviolet


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