Anal Sac Disease In Cats


The anal sacs (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 secretions of the anal glands become thickened and impacted which 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.

Clinical signs

  • 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


If the anal glands are simply impacted and haven’t progressed to infection and or abscess it may be possible to manually express the glands. 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 an infection.

If your cat has repeated problems with their anal glands, surgical removal may be necessary.


Check the anal sacs regularly for signs of impaction, infection or abscess.

Julia Wilson is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care.Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time.Full author bio Contact Julia