Anal Sac Disorders in Cats

Cats have anal glands which produce fluid into sacs that are located on either side of the anus. This fluid is assumed to be a scent marker that is useful in delineating territory. Anal sac disorders involve impaction of anal sac fluid, inflammation of the sac(s), and abscess of the sac(s), which can lead to anal gland rupture. Impaction is the most commonly occurring type of anal gland disorder.

Symptoms and Types

  • Scooting along the floor
  • Straining to defecate
  • Scratching at the anus
  • Licking and biting around the anus
  • Discharge from the anal glands


  • Unknown
  • Possible predisposing factors:
    • Chronically soft feces
    • Recent bout of diarrhea
    • Excessive glandular secretions
    • Poor anal muscle tone
  • Retained secretions


Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your cat, taking into account the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. A blood chemical profile will be conducted, including a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis to rule out other causes of disease.

If the anal sacs are easily palpable during the physical exam, they are considered to be enlarged. The normal clear or pale yellow-brown secretion will have turned to a thick, pasty brown secretion if the anal glands are impacted. Abscessed anal sacs will have a red-brown exudate, and will show signs of swelling and redness, or they may be clearly ruptured. The anal sac exudate will be sent to a laboratory for culture and sensitivity testing.

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