How to empty a cat’s anal glands

The anal glands are small organs that are located on both sides of the anus. They generally go unnoticed but, on occasion, they can become clogged or infected, causing problems for our cat.

We explain what these glands are, how to find them and how to empty them manually if necessary to avoid discomfort to our cat.

What are the anal glands?

Also known as anal sacs , they are formations about the size of a marble that are located under the skin on both sides of the anus. They secrete a foul-smelling , thick and brown liquid that, on normal occasions, goes out with the stool. With a lubricating effect, its smell is distinctive for each individual and they use it as a means of communication.

A problem in the elimination of this secretion will cause the cat pain, itching and constipation, because it will resist defecation in an attempt to avoid discomfort. If the animal suffers recurrent episodes we will have to empty the sacks periodically . This happens especially in older cats.


Why do the anal glands fail?

There are some factors that will predispose the glands to not empty effectively. The following stand out:

  • too small stools , soft or diarrheal not going to get compress your output. It would be necessary to find out what is causing these depositions. It can be an improper diet, parasites in the tract , inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) , etc.
  • An anatomical problem that affects the outlet duct of the gland itself, such as a narrowing, makes it difficult for the fluid to evacuate.
  • A very thick discharge may not be able to flow by blocking the exit hole .
  • If the anal sphincter also does not exert enough pressure , the fluid will not come out.

How to identify a problem with the anal glands

The accumulation of fluid in the sacs or its infection causes discomfort to the cat, such as:

  • Licked from the area.
  • Dragging of the anus on the ground.
  • Absence of stools.
  • Constipation.
  • Pain when defecating.
  • Bad smell.
  • Redness or swelling of the anal area.
  • If an abscess forms and opens, we will see pus staining the fur around it. This discharge will have a very bad odor.
  • When there is an infection the cat will present fever and general malaise.


Blockage of the anal glands in cats

These glands are said to be impacted when their secretion cannot escape to the outside and, therefore, accumulates inside, increasing them in size. An impaction can become infected, which is why it is so important to treat it on time and go quickly to the vet .

It is usually solved by manually emptying the glands. It is a simple procedure that our vet can teach us to do but, in these cases, it is better for him to do it, since the cat will be very upset. It is also important that we offer the cat a diet rich in fiber. We will never administer laxatives without veterinary prescription.

Infection in the anal glands of our pussycat

Also known as sacculitis , the basis of this inflammation is an obstruction. An infection can end up forming an abscess. Treatment will require, in addition to manual emptying, the prescription of antibiotics that can be administered topically, that is, directly in the area, or systemically, giving oral medication.

Swelling, which will be painful, may be seen on one or both sides of the anus. Directly applying compresses to the affected area a couple of times a day helps to relieve discomfort.

Anal gland abscesses

Abscesses are collections of pus that encapsulate under the skin. They are going to give a fever. They generally occur after an impaction and infection have formed. Some open on their own, eliminating the pus, but in the rest of cases it will be the vet who has to drain them. The skin around it will appear red or purple.

In this case manual emptying does not work. The abscess can open inwards, forming what is called a fistula , which complicates the picture and makes it difficult to heal. Treatment includes disinfection, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories. If the cat suffers relapses, it will be advisable to remove the glands, which is known as a saculectomy .

How to empty the anal glands of our cat step by step

The truth is that explaining it can be somewhat confusing, so nothing better than a video where you can see how it is done in a simple way. Remember, if your cat is surly or won’t let it go, it’s best to have a vet do it once he’s sedated a little.

Tumors in the anal glands


A tumor in the anal area can grow to compress and make it difficult to empty the anal glands. In these cases a biopsy is performed to confirm the diagnosis. It is also checked whether or not there is metastasis . Surgery is often used to remove cancer, regardless of whether it is benign or malignant.

How to prevent anal gland problems

To avoid impactions that give rise to infections or abscesses, we must take into account the following recommendations:

  • Provide the cat with a balanced diet that helps it conform its stools. For this you must include a sufficient amount of fiber.
  • Keep your deworming up to date.
  • We must treat any cause that may predispose to the formation of loose stools such as inflammatory bowel disease, allergies or food intolerances, etc. – Weight control.
  • If our cat has had a problem with the glands, we must check the area periodically to quickly detect any signs of impaction or infection.



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