The anal sacs (also known as anal glands) are two small sacs located on either side of the anus at the five and seven o'clock position. Their role is similar to scent glands and they secrete an oily, foul-smelling substance which helps other cats to identify the individual.
When a cat defecates, the sphincter muscle contracts and squeezes the anal glands, emptying them. They are also emptied by forceful contractions of the anal sphincter which happens when a cat is scared or upset.
Anal sac disease begins when the anal glands secretions become thickened and impacted. This causes inflammation. If the anal sacs are not treated at this point, an infection may occur which could lead to an abscess. This, in turn, could eventually rupture through the adjacent skin.
Obese cats are more likely to develop anal sac disease.
What are the signs of impacted anal glands in cats?
Scooting his bottom along the floor.
Biting and or licking around the anal region.
Straining while defecating.
Pain while defecating.
Defecating outside the litter box.
Obvious pain in the anal area.
Swelling in the anal area.
Rupture around the anal region.
How is anal gland disease in cats treated?
If the anal glands are simply impacted and haven't progressed to infection and or abscess then manually expressing the secretions may be all that is required. Your veterinarian will need to do this and it involves inserting a finger into the anus and gently applying pressure.
If the anal sacs have become infected or abscessed, lancing and extraction of the infected material will be necessary. This is followed by flushing and antibiotics are instilled into the sacs to treat infection.
If your cat has repeated problems with their anal glands, surgical removal may be necessary.
Preventing anal sac disease in cats:
The anal sacs should be regularly checked for signs of impaction, infection or abscess.