Scooting refers to the act of rubbing or dragging the anal area or perineum (the area between the anus and genitals) on the ground. Typically, the hind legs are extended in front of the cat as the cat drags herself forward. Dogs will scoot much more commonly than cats. Anything that causes an irritation or itching to the area under the tail may cause an cat to scoot.
The most common cause of scooting is anal gland disease. Diseases of the anal gland include impacted anal glands (by far the most common cause), infected or abscessed anal glands and anal gland tumors. Other causes of scooting include allergic dermatitis (allergies), acute moist dermatitis (hot spots), abnormal materials adhered to the anal area (hair mats or fecal material), tapeworms, skin parasites (fleas or ticks), and perianal fistulas.
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Scooting in Cats
A good history and physical exam is most important in making a diagnosis. Visual inspection, too, often leads to a prompt diagnosis. Additional tests may include:
Treatment of Scooting in Cats
Proper treatment depends on the cause of the scooting and may include:
Keep the area under the tail clean and groomed if needed. Warm water compresses are commonly used to increase drainage, decrease itching or sooth the skin.
Excessive scooting should be discouraged, as it may only increase irritation at the site. Some antihistamines may provide itching relief and some sedation. Consult with your veterinarian first.
If your cat has a frequent problem with anal gland impactions, you may be able to expresses the glands at home. Proper instruction by your veterinarian and a cooperative cat are needed if this is to be achieved.