Wiki Toolbox

Cat Anal Sacs

From Pet Health Learning Center

Jump to: navigation, search

Cat Anal Sacs

The cat anal sacs, which are located near the rectum, are normal parts of the feline. These glands produce the pungent, oily and yellow secretions with brown flecks observed during defecation and during times of Cat Stress And Anxiety. The main purpose of the anal sacs appears to be for territorial marking purposes especially in the wild, although domestic cats have also been known to use it. As the feces passes through the anal canal, it presses against the anal sacs and, hence, causes the expression of the distinctive yellow secretion.

Domestic cats may require the help of their owners or veterinarians to manually express the anal sacs from time to time. It must be emphasized that anal sac diseases are uncommon but not unheard of in cats.

Types of Anal Sac Diseases in Cats

Cat anal sacs diseases can be categorized into four types - impaction, inflammation, infection and tumors. First, impaction results from large amounts of unexpressed thick secretions that eventually build up, become distended and then cause discomfort in the anal area. It can lead to infection when left untreated. Its only observable symptoms are rubbing the anus on flat surfaces like the floor and licking the anus excessively.

Second, inflammation of the anal sacs - called anal sacculitis in veterinary circles - can be caused either by bacterial infections or impactions in the area. For the cat, it is more painful and more fatal than ordinary impaction. The symptoms include excessive rubbing and licking of the anal area as well as noticeable straining during defecation, not unlike Cat Constipation.

Third, infection of the anal sacs is caused by bacterial infection and characterized by abscesses filled with pus in the area. As such, the symptoms are similar to inflammation of the anal sacs with the addition of red swelling and dripping pus from the anus.

Fourth, cat anal sacs are also susceptible to tumors called apocrine gland adenocarcinomas amongst veterinarians. Unfortunately, these tumors are often not painful although the other symptoms of the abovementioned diseases can also be observed. Cats with anal sac tumors also exhibit behaviors like increased drinking and urination as well as difficulty in defecation and the production of ribbon-like stools.


Despite these symptoms, diagnostic tests are performed to confirm initial diagnosis and to rule out other cat diseases with similar signs. These tests include:

• Complete physical examination coupled with the taking of medical history • Rectal examination including manual expression of the anal sacs • Blood tests to determine blood calcium levels, if tumors are suspected • Chest and abdominal x-rays and ultrasound to check for metastasis in the lungs and lymph nodes

Treatment Options

The treatment of an anal sac disease depends on its type. Veterinarians may perform one or two of the following:

• Anal sac expression is performed manually in cases of impaction and mild cases of inflammation. • Anal sac irrigation involves flushing saline into the anal sac and, thus, emptying it of the build-up. • Abscess lancing involves draining and then flushing the anal sac with saline. Antibiotics and warm compresses are also prescribed. • Surgical removal of the anal sacs is necessary in tumors although recurrent cases of impaction and infection can also warrant the procedure. • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can be performed in addition to the surgical excision, which aims to prolong the life of the feline.

Indeed, the cat anal sacs may be less-than-pea-sized but these require attention from owners.

Ask an Expert


Dr. Janice Huntingford

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Customer Service

1 877 633-2401

Live chat by BoldChat

Click to verify BBB accreditation and to see a BBB report.

90 day money back guarantee