VCA Beacon Hill Cat Hospital

Anal Sac Disease

By Dr.Bazemore
Published: January 03, 2012

Back to News

My cat seems to be over-grooming her back end. She occasionally poops outside the box. My kitty seems constipated. Fluffy is occasionally scooting across the floor and this foul smell follows.

Does this sound familiar?? Maybe your feline friend is having problems with his/her anal sacs.

What are anal sacs?

The anal sacs are two little blind pouches located in on each side of the anus internally. They have a small passageway to the outside called a duct. There are glands within the anal sacs that produce a darker colored often times foul smelling substance that typically empties when the cat has a bowel movement. In dogs, the anal sacs are often used for scent marking. The purpose in cats is unknown.

If there is a problem with release of the anal sac substance, cats can develop one of the following problems:

o Impaction: The anal sac material becomes thickened and unable to be released during a bowel movement. Often times, the impacted anal sacs can lead to problems with constipation because it is uncomfortable for your kitty to have a bowel movement past the full anal sacs.

o Infection: There are bacteria present in the anal sac material that can cause problems in the sacs leading to the production of a yellow, bloody, extremely foul smelling pus.

o Abscessation: This is the result of the infection present within the anal sac(s). This can be extremely painful to your cat and lead to him/her not wanting to have a bowel movement. Eventually the abscess can lead to a ruptured anal sac and an abnormal channel from the anal sac to the outside of the skin called a fistula. The fistula damages the surrounding tissue and is extremely painful.

Treatment for the anal sac problems range from manual expression of the anal sac; flushing out the anal sacs and infusing antibiotic ointments to surgical repair or removal of the anal sacs.

Case Example:

Socks is a 12 yr old female spayed domestic short hair that presented earlier this month with a ruptured right anal sac due to a severe infection that led to a fistula through her. The fistula lead to damage of the surrounding skin. She had not had any history of anal sac problems. Socks had to be placed under anesthesia to remove all of the dead tissue and repair the opening. Her anal sacs were flushed out thoroughly and packed with ointment to speed the recovery. Socks was also given an injectable antibiotic that lasted 14 days. Today, Socks is doing great, her incision site is healing well and she is a happier girl.

Please consult your veterinarian if you suspect your cat is having problems with their anal sacs.


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Emergency Care

If your cat has an emergency, please come right away - your cat will be seen immediately.  If possible, call to let us know you are on the way.

If we are closed, our voicemessage has the phone numbers of nearby Emergency locations that we recommend.  Our phone number is 703-765-2287.

After hours we recommend you call:

VCA Alexandria Animal Hospital 703-751-2022

or VCA Southpaws Referral Center 703-752-9100