Scooting, which is the polite term for a pet dragging its bum along the ground, is more common in dogs, but sometimes cats are scooted as well. Usually this means that a cat’s back is itchy or irritated. A little bit of detective work can help you get to the bottom of all the cat scootering.
1. Cat shooting happens because of worms
One of the most common reasons cats scooter is intestinal parasites. “Tapeworms are what I usually think of,” says Cynthia Karsten, DVM, outreach veterinarian for the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California, Davis, Center for Companion Animal Health, School of Veterinary Medicine. Other parasites can also cause itching and scooting. With tapeworms, you may see clues in your cat’s feces (tapeworms look like grains of white rice), but some parasites cannot be seen with the naked eye. Other signs of parasite infestation include diarrhea or constipation, weight loss, and a bulging stomach.
If your cat has allergies that cause itchy skin, the itching can spread to any area of the body, including the rear end. Although it is possible that cat allergies are caused by an intolerance to certain proteins in food, environmental allergies are more common in cats. “In dogs, we think about nutrition,” says Dr. Karsten. “Cats just don’t seem to have the same food allergies as dogs, so that’s not as common.” Environmental allergies in cats can be caused by dust, pollen, mold, mites, and even fleas.
3. Problems with the anal gland
Cats seem to have fewer problems with the anal gland than dogs. However, scanning cats can indicate problems with your cat’s anal glands. The anal glands are two small inner sacs that are positioned on either side of the anus. The glands produce a pungent liquid that is likely a mechanism for marking the territory. “They should, if they are okay, express it every time the animal poops,” says Dr. Karsten.
Sometimes inflammation prevents this fluid from being expelled when the cat poops. Instead, it builds up in the two sacs where it can get very thick like a paste. “When they’re uncomfortable, we see the pet scoot because the animal can’t go back there. The best thing you can do is try to scoot their bum,” explains Dr. Karsten. “Bacteria from the feces can get into the sack but are usually flushed out when the sacks are expelled. If they are affected and bacteria get in there, they can get an infection and possibly even an abscess. “
What can you do about cat scooting?
If your cat is scooter, it’s time to see the vet to find out what’s causing it. Your vet will do a full physical exam and look for any signs of parasites, itchy skin, or problems with the anal glands. “The vet will likely want to do a fecal test and possibly good deworming, especially if it is diarrhea,” advises Dr. Karsten. “He or she will also look for a perianal or vulvar inflammatory infection. Yeast can be really itchy. Your veterinarian may want to have a cytology of this area. “
Treatment for cat scootering depends on the cause. Deworming should take care of irritating parasites. If the anal glands appear affected or infected, your veterinarian will express them and possibly medicate them. Allergies can be more difficult to treat, but once the cause of the allergies is identified, your veterinarian can prescribe appropriate treatment to relieve the itching and stop your cat from scooting for good.
Tell us: Have you ever seen a cat scooter? What was the cause?
Thumbnail: Photography © GlobalP | iStock.
This piece was originally released on January 4th, 2018.