In the interest of happy litter boxes everywhere, I asked Dr. Jean Hofve, holistic veterinarian, author and founder of the site, Little Big Cat, to talk to me about cat butts. I know, it’s a riveting topic (but you’re still reading, aren’t you?)
Here’s the thing: Your cat’s butt health is a great indicator of his overall health and well-being. And, these two things can impact your cat’s litter box habits, so it behooves you to know more about this topic for many reasons.
Here are some things Dr. Hofve tells me are common issues cat parents face.
1. My Cat Has Poop Clinging to His Butt Fur
You may have come across little pieces of poop clinging to your cat’s “pants” now and then. These “dingleberries” (I love that I just used that word in a legitimate post) happen if your cat’s poop is especially soft or he’s suffering from diarrhea. If he does have runny poop, take him to the vet to get checked out!
The easiest way to keep poop from clinging to your cat’s derriere hair is to keep that area trimmed. Obviously, this is a very delicate procedure that requires a steady hand! We take our cats in to the groomer for “sanitary trims” which helps reduce instances of poopy pants.
By the way, I have heard that some long haired cats don’t like the feel of their fur dragging in the litter so they decide to do their biz outside the box somewhere. Try trimming the fur in that area and seeing if that helps. It’s worth a shot!
2. Do I Need to Wipe My Cat’s Butt?
Technically, your cat should be able to keep himself clean down there, says Dr. Hofve. However, she adds, there are situations when your cat may need some help.
Overweight cats – If your cat is carrying around some extra poundage, it might be hard for him to reach aaaalllll the way around his chubby belly and back to his nether regions to clean up, explains Dr. Hofve.
Cats with arthritis – If your senior cat has arthritis, it might be hard for him to bend that far to get to his derriere.
Soft poop – As I mentioned above, if your cat has soft poop or diarrhea, pieces might cling to his fur. Your cat should be able to clean himself but he may need an assist from you.
Warm water on a soft washcloth is the best cleaning tool, advises Dr. Hofve.
3. Ewww, My Cat is Dragging His Butt on The Floor
“The scoot” strikes dread in many a cat (and dog) parents’ heart. Not only does it mean some nasty clean up but it’s also an indication something is amiss – from diarrhea to worms, to swollen anal glands to even allergies. If there are poop colored skid marks on your floor, take your cat to the vet.
4. OMG What the Heck Are Cat Anal Glands?
This one makes me gag but what’s a loving cat mom to do? Grin and bear it. If your cat is scooting or excessively licking his bottom he might have swollen anal glands.
Dr. Hofve explains that the anal glands are located on either side of the cat’s anal opening and secrete an important marking scent that coats the cat’s poop when it comes out. A typical bowel movement coming through the poop chute puts just enough pressure on the glands to release the scent. But if a poop is too hard or too soft, it won’t create the right amount of pressure to initiate the release of the secretion. That can cause a back up and swelling of the glands, which – oh boy – must be uncomfortable.
Dr. Hofve says you probably won’t be able to see the glands because they swell inside your cat’s rectum, not on the outside. So if your cat’s scooting or uber-licking, have him checked out. Your vet can manually “express” (empty) them. Dr. Hofve says don’t try to do it yourself as it can be quite messy – and smelly. I couldn’t agree more.
5. There Are Things Wiggling Around in My Cat’s Poop
Here’s another vomity topic: if you see little things wiggling and hanging out of your cat’s butt hole or in his poop, he probably has worms. Get that kitty to the vet ASAP. If you can see the worms, they’re likely in the advanced stages.
Dr. Hofve adds that anything weird hanging out of your cat’s bottom is cause for concern – and a vet visit, fast. Sometimes cats ingest string or other similar items. Even if it’s come out in his poop, there still may be pieces left in his intestines. Take him to the vet to get checked out.
We all know that being owned by a cat also means we have to deal with some icky stuff (as well as many, many wonderful things!)
If you’re worried or anything is odd with your cat’s butt or poop, get him to the vet. Don’t mess around with issues of the nether regions. Okay, now, back to your lunch!