Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
Why is my cat dragging his bum across the floor?
Siouxsie: There are three main reasons why a cat might drag his bottom across the floor. Let us reassure you that it’s not because it feels good to do so!
Thomas: If our stools are soft or we get diarrhea, we might drag our bottom across the floor to clean off the “cling-ons.” We don’t mind washing our bottoms–we do that every time we use the litterbox, after all–but when there’s a lot of mess there, it’s pretty gross.
Dahlia: Cling-ons tend to be more of a problem for long-haired cats, because there’s just more hair to catch the waste. This is one reason why long-haired cats require more grooming than those of us with short hair.
Siouxsie: If you notice that your cat has feces clinging to his bottom, you can give him a hand by taking a napkin and cleaning some of it off. That will make it easier for him to clean himself the rest of the way.
Thomas: And if your cat does have diarrhea, you should investigate why. Cats get diarrhea from eating dairy products (milk and cheese made of cow milk) or from eating people-food that’s too rich and spicy. So don’t feed your cat people-food if you notice he’s getting diarrhea after he consumes it.
Dahlia: Cats also get diarrhea if they have worms. Particularly if your cat goes outside, you should get your cat dewormed (with a medicine for tapeworms and roundworms) twice a year.
Siouxsie: Speaking of worms, some worms–such as pinworms (a type of roundworm) or tapeworm segments that move around for a while after they come out–make kitty bottoms pretty itchy, and a cat might drag his bottom on the floor because of the itch.
Thomas: Another more serious reason for bottom-dragging is clogged anal sacs. If you ever looked at your cat’s bottom, you might notice a little dark-colored dot at about the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions on either side of your cat’s anus. These are the openings for the anal sacs.
Dahlia: Thick fluid collects in these glands and is normally expelled when the rectal muscles contract as the cat poops. This fluid adds a scent that identifies the poop as belonging to that particular cat.
Siouxsie: Sometimes, though, the thick fluid clogs the opening of the anal sacs, which causes impaction and discomfort. Think of a pimple that gets clogged and just keeps getting bigger and bigger. This feels similar to what we cats experience with clogged anal sacs.
Thomas: A cat with clogged anal sacs may drag his bottom across the floor in an attempt to ease the discomfort and unclog those sacs.
Dahlia: Your vet can manually expel the clog from your cat’s anal sacs and even show you how to do the job at home if this becomes a regular problem.
Siouxsie: Be warned, the fluid from the anal sacs is very smelly! Most humans find the odor nauseating. But trust us, getting those sacs unclogged is quite a relief.
Thomas: If your cat does have clogged anal sacs, failure to clear that clog can lead to infection or even an abscess in the anal sac, a serious medical condition.
Dahlia: So if your cat continues to scoot his bottom across the floor for more than a day or so, and you don’t see any evidence of diarrhea, call your vet and see if they want you to bring him in for a checkup. He may need to have his anal sacs emptied.
Siouxsie: If it turns out that your cat does have anal sac problems, it would be a good idea to investigate an underlying cause. Diarrhea or unduly soft stools can mean that the rectal muscles don’t have to contract enough to expel the anal sacs naturally. Constipation also may cause clogged anal sacs because when the cat doesn’t defecate normally, the rectum doesn’t contract often enough to expel the fluid.
Thomas: Either way, if your cat has regular problems with constipation or diarrhea, this is also something you should discuss with your vet. Both of these problems are just as uncomfortable and annoying for your cat as they would be for you.
Dahlia: Good luck, Jowanna, and we hope you find out what’s causing your kitty’s discomfort.
Hmmm I do have a cat that does scooty butt — but she doesn’t have stool issues, she doesn’t appear to have gland issues, she’s shorthaired and doesn’t have “clingons” and she’s leaning towards overweight with a healthy but not voraceous appetite. There are never any signs of worms in her stool, in the litter box, or on the cat or on the floor after I catch her scooting around. It’s not a constant issue and she only does it for a second or two when she does do it. I’m stumped!
My cat dos the exact same thing! We got her dewormed when we got hr spayed but she still does it and idk why
I was just wondering because my cat dragged her butt in the floor so u was a little nervous hat she had worms or something I will look into it a little more hough before jumping to conclusions
This was a great help, thank you so much :-)
Our cat spent the afternoon chowin’ on crispy french fires… her scooting was simply because she didn’t chew enough and couldn’t expel the extra crispiness of said fries.
my male Bengal keeps scooting his booty. we’ve had his anal glands cleaned in the past 2-3 weeks. hr shows no signs of worms in any form. he also has no usual signs of constipation or diarrhea. we are so stumped as to why he keeps doing this.
Thanks muchly for this.
Our male flame-point siamese has occasionally began to scoot across the carpet on his butt. There is no diarrhea, both he and his brother eat dry and canned food and have clean litter boxes although they are able to go outside at their leisure. Toby has just started this behavior. My husband has insisted on spraying his butt with a solution of lime sulfur dip and water. How could this possibly help? Isn’t this dangerous? We have seen no worms. He had ringworm earlier from being trapped and uncared for until we got him back. Any helpful comments anyone could give me?
Hi Beckie. Although a lime-sulfur dip is part of the treatment for ringworm (which is actually a skin fungus, not a worm), we can’t imagine what it would do for a butt-scooting kitty.
We’d recommend that you call your vet and tell him or her about this behavior. As we mentioned in the column, it could be that his anal sacs are clogged, and some worms are small enough to be invisible to the naked eye.
Here’s an article from PetEducation.com about ringworm, in case you’re curious: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=1+2134&aid=223
Our long haired cat had the clogged sack. My wife thought he had a “pimple” down there and when she pinched it all this stuff came out. Your posts explained a lot.
hi…my cat dragged her butt on the carpet for the first time this afternoon …i was pretty shocked…can someone please tell me if she has worms can i see them after she drags her butt? and is the worms contagious to humans?
I’ve a female cat that drags herself after I put clean litter in her box I kinda thought it might be from the dust maybe I will change her litter to scooping type
THANX!!! U guys cleared up SO much for me…
My 1yr old cat does this occasionally. She is short haired and has no other issues and a clean bill of health. I’ve finally figured out she does it after she has cleaned herself, she doesn’t like her bum to be wet, so after cleaning, she will scoot her bum on the carpet to dry it. If I yell at her, she stops and then it will be awhile before I catch her doing this again.
Very helpful ad! My newly adopted kitty was doing this and after reading this article I’m so much more informed! She has a healthy appetite (a little overweight since I got her, due to her being homeless for 2 plus yrs) but she has no diarrhea or “cling-ons”‘ but am thinking worms may be the problem now. Vet appointment has been made and hopefully in a few days I will know why she is “butt-scooting”. I want the best for my little “fur baby” and this article has opened my eyes to make sure she is as comfortable as she deserves..thanks so much and fingers crossed! :)
I took my cat to the vet 3 times for his butt dragging.they emptied his gland, he’s been wormed,no diarrhea. He does this a few times a day for the last year! Pls help.
My can don’t have worms or clogged anal glands. He just drags his butt across the floor all the time
I hope I’m not too late with this information for those of you whose cats are suffering this uncomfortable situation. The last cat I adopted, which I took off the streets on Super Bowl Sunday of 2013 had this problem. She somehow developed it right after I took her home and started feeding her “good” cat food instead of whatever she was having on the streets. I was using Blue Buffalo at the time for my 4 other cats. A few days after, she started dragging her but and licking all the time. Sadly, this went on for over a year. I even kept her butt shaved to get it aired (a suggestion from a vet to alleviate the skin irritation), and this helped, but didn’t solve it and kept on happening. I changed food types within the Blue Buffalo brand, tried Purina, went back to Iams and nothing. After 3 or 4 unsuccessful doses of Clavamox, applying topical cream on her butt twice a day for months, even treating her with Cantharis, several trips to the vet, and trying different foods, I kept looking and reading seeking some help for my poor cat. One blessed day (really!!!), I read somewhere that this behavior was NOT due to a gland problem, but instead, it was caused by an UNBALANCE IN HER DIGESTIVE SYSTEM DUE TO THE LACK OF FIBER. I immediately decided to research all the brands that I had used on the PetSmart website, and to my surprise, they all fluctuate between 3% to maybe 6% crude fiber (max). However, Hill’s Science Diet has several (two or three) types of food that have 9.5 or 10% crude fiber!!! Regardless of the super bad reviews that I have read about this brand, I went ahead and gave it a try. Long story short: within less than 5 days, my cat stopped dragging her but on the floor. It’s now been about 4 months, and I’m a happy owner of a house with 5 cats and no streaks on the floor any longer. Her butt hair has been fully grown for a while, with no need to shave or anything. She’s as happy and healthy as she can be, and so are my other 4 cats, all adults. From now on, only the high-fiber varieties on the Hill’s Science Diet for my cats!