How to Express the Anal Glands in Your Cat

Cat at vets office

If your veterinarian has suggested that your cat's anal glands be expressed on a regular basis, it may be necessary to do so on a regular basis. If your cat is willing, you may learn to execute the surgery at home and save money.

When cats defecate, their anal glands produce a scent-marking liquid. An impaction may form, preventing the fluid from exiting, and they may want your assistance with their anal glands. This obstruction can cause pain for your cat and lead to other issues such as infections.

It's not the most enjoyable experience for you or the cat, and it can be messy, so there's no need to be embarrassed if you decide to leave this job to the professionals.

Before You Begin

The function of (also known as anal sacs) in cats must be understood. They're little structures around the 5 and 7 o'clock positions on both sides of the anus. Openings adjacent to the anus are formed by tiny ducts beneath the skin.

The objective of the glands in cats is to send a potent territorial fragrance message to excrement via anal sac secretions. While passing through the anus, a cat's healthy, hard feces "milk" the anal glands. When cats are agitated or scared, they may produce anal sac secretions on their own.

Unfortunately, certain health issues prohibit this natural process from taking place. Obesity or chronically soft stools caused by a poor diet or gastrointestinal problems, for example, might interfere with the natural stimulation for anal gland expression. Weight loss and/or increasing fecal size and stiffness (for example, with a high-fiber diet or supplement) may assist, however manually expressing the gland may be required to avoid anal gland issues including impaction and infection.

Redness in the region and the cat scooting about or licking excessively are signs that you may need to physically express the glands. Please with your veterinarian before expressing your cat's anal glands. Anal gland infections and malignancies, for example, require further therapy.

What You Need

  • Sturdy surface for the cat to stand on: A bathroom countertop would be excellent. You may want to line it with a layer of newspapers or towels first.
  • Surgical gloves: You'll want to avoid getting the extremely smelly secretions on your hands.
  • Moist wipes: For cleaning the anal area after expressing the anal glands. Damp paper towels will also work quite well.
  • Kitty treats: Handy for ensuring your cat's cooperation and as a reward when you are finished.

Get a Helping Hand

You will likely need the help of another person to hold the cat while you perform the procedure. Have them hold the cat from the front (so it's facing away from you) with a reassuring touch.

Be sure that both of you remain calm and talk softly to your cat to reduce as much stress as possible. Offering treats as a distraction will help as well.

Locate the Anal Glands

Hold the cat's tail up. Locate the anal glands at roughly the 5 and 7 o'clock positions on either side of the anal opening. When full, they tend to feel like soft but firm peas or jelly beans.

Press Gently

Place your fingers on the outside bottom of the sacs with the index fingers of both hands or the thumb and index finger of one hand. Gently push inward and upward at the same time until the gland empties and discharges its contents. Rep on the opposite side.

Clean Up

Use wet wipes or a damp paper towel to clean the anal region. Give the cat one more goodie before releasing it. Remove the medical gloves, wrap them in newspaper with the used wet wipes, and throw them away. Give a high-five to your spouse and rejoice!

Preventing Problems With Your Cat During Anal Gland Expression

If you were unsuccessful, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to have the anal glands of your cat expressed. When you arrive at the appointment, request that the veterinarian instruct you on the technique so that you can repeat it the next time it is required. Get some advice on how to restrict and distract your cat as well.

Your veterinarian can also check for evidence of anal gland disease, including:

  • Impaction: Normal anal sac (gland) secretion is a yellowish color and oily in appearance and texture. If not regularly expressed, the secretion thickens to a mush-like consistency, and may ultimately become very thick, hard, and grainy.
  • Infection leading to abscess: Infected anal glands become swollen, painful, and red. If caught in time, the infection may be treated with antibiotics, however, abscesses must be drained by a veterinarian. Warm compresses may also help reduce the pain and swelling.
  • Tumors: Anal gland tumors are also possible.

Anal sac surgery may be used to treat cats with recurring anal sac impactions or inflammation. Anal gland tumors, which are uncommon, will also be treated with the whole sac being removed.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.


"Anal Sac Disease in Cats. VCA Animal Hospital.", "Anal Sac Disease in Dogs and Cats. Merck Veterinary Manual.", "Anal Sac Tumors. VCA Hospitals." ;