Most often we think of dogs as the ones to drag their bums across the carpet, but cats also do this when something is bothering them back there. What’s referred to as the “scoot”, cats will drag their bottoms across the floor usually when their anal sacs are irritated. The anal sacs, located on either side of the anus, collect fluid produced by the anal glands. This fluid needs to be emptied regularly, which typically happens during regular bowel movements. When the fluid isn’t emptied, the sacs can become impacted, infected, or even rupture.
If your cat is scooting, it means they’re feeling uncomfortable. Other symptoms you may notice along with the scoot are straining to defecate, discharge, and scratching, licking, or biting around the anus. This is most commonly caused by irritation, likely because of diarrhea, or impaction, which is when the sacs become clogged with thick secretion from the glands. Other possibilities include allergies, parasites, matted hair, and tumors.
Scooting isn’t something to be ignored. If the behavior is occurring frequently, you should make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. When the anal sacs remain unemptied, impaction could occur and lead to abscessation and/or rupture, causing your cat a great deal of pain. When you bring your cat in, the vet will manually empty the sacs as long as they’re still intact. If they are abscessed, your vet will drain them and then flush them with antibiotics.
If your cat has these issues repeatedly, they may be suffering from a chronic anal sac disorder. In this case, it is possible to surgically remove the sacs. You should also talk to your vet about how to empty the anal sacs at home.
Cats are known for hiding illness well, and anal sac issues are no exception. So if you notice your cat doing the scoot, it’s for the better that they are telling you something is wrong.