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Have you ever seen a cat dragging its butt along the ground? Cat butt scooting is definitely less common in cats than dogs, but it’s still most definitely a ‘thing’ and can indicate a medical problem that you may need to get checked out.
What is Cat Scooting?
It simple terms, it’s when a cat drags their bottom along the floor. Carpet is a particularly rewarding surface to scoot on, as it’s satisfies the need to itch. Outdoors, you may notice your cat scooting across a grassy surface or even on concrete. It looks weird and your first reaction may be to laugh, but cat butt scooting can be an indication of a medical problem that needs to be checked out.
Cats typically scoot because they have an itchy butt and it’s their way of scratching that itch. There are a few common causes of cat scooting. . . which we answer below.
Three Causes of Cat Scooting
Cats drag their butts along the ground because their bottom feels itchy or is irritated; which is usually caused by one of these ‘big three’.
- Anal gland disease
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Have you ever noticed something that looks like a cucumber pip or dried rice grain, stuck to the fur near your cat’s anus? If you didn’t realise. . . that small, white, sesame seed like object is actually a ‘proglottids’ or tapeworm egg packet.
Tapeworms are internal parasites that live in the gut. The adult worm attaches to the wall of the small intestine and absorbs nutrients through their ‘skin’. They reproduce by forming small egg packets which drop off the lower end of their ‘tape’. These packets or proglottids pass out of the cat’s anus and cause extreme itchiness.
Cats become infected with tapeworms in two ways:
- Eating small mammals or birds that have a tapeworm infection
- Grooming and swallowing fleas that contain tapeworm eggs.
The answer for these cats that drag their butts along the ground is simple: a worming and flea treatment should fix the issue.
However, be aware that not all dewormers are created equal. It requires a special ingredient, usually praziquantel, to kill tapeworms. Many regular dewormers, especially over-the-counter ones, are ineffective against tapeworm and you may need to get a prescription wormer from your vet.
Think of how itchy a flea bite can be, and you realise how itchy an allergy can make a cat. Cats can become allergic to anything in the environment, ranging from pollens to fragrances or even house dust mites. One of our outdoor cats developed an allergy to the sap from a tree that she used to sleep underneath – it took us ages to figure out the cause of her allergic reaction.
With allergies, common symptoms include itchy skin and scabs. If the skin of the body or legs are itchy, the cat may over-groom and lick themselves bald. If it’s the area around the anus that’s itchy, the cat will engage in butt scooting behaviour.
Interestingly, there is a strong link between cat butt scooting and food allergies. Some of the digested allergen can pass out in the stool, where it has intimate contact with the skin around the rectum. This causes direct inflammation of the anal ring and an intense need to scratch or rub.
Where possible, avoiding the allergen in the first place is the best policy. This is easy when your cat reacts to a certain food, such as lamb or rabbit, but less so if they’re an outdoor cat and are reacting to grass pollen.
Alternatively, there are several different options for medicating your cat, which will control the inflammation associated with allergies. These include inexpensive steroids or some of the more sophisticated but expensive drugs such as cyclosporine (Atopica).
3. Anal Sacs
Yes, cats do have anal sacs! And, they can become very itchy when impacted. Feline anal sacs are a different shape to those in dogs – whereas dogs have a grape-like anal sac, for cats it’s more like a coiled length of very narrow pipe. When a vet expresses a cat’s anal sacs the secretion has similarities to toothpaste squeezed from a tube.
Secretion is produced all the time, and is usually spotted on to the stool when the cat has a bowel movement. If the cat has a slack tummy or more secretion is produced than drains away, then it can build up inside the duct causing a stretching sensation and discomfort. If the secretion stagnates altogether it can become infected, which is downright painful as well as itchy.
For this reason, if you notice your cat butt scooting, get them checked by your vet. If their anal sacs are impacted then getting things moving could prevent a nasty infection. And if the problem is an allergy or parasites, then these also need treatment.
So next time you see your cat butt scooting, take a closer look underneath their tail. What do you see? You may notice signs of tapeworm or dried faeces that are simply stuck to their fur causing them to scoot. If the problem isn’t so obvious and is recurring, make an appointment with your vet for a check-up so they can conduct a more thorough investigation.