Cats are graceful and elegant animals, with a unique gait. This makes it surprising to see a cat dragging its bottom on the floor (scooting). This behavior is more commonly associated with other animals.
A scooting cat may be marking territory. Cats have scent glands in their anus. The aroma released is imperceptible to the human nose, but clear to other felines. The cat may also be wiping an unclean bottom. It’s equally likely that the cat is attempting to relieve itchiness caused by parasites, skin issues, post-operative discomfort, or tumors.
Scooting is not a major health concern, but you need to learn why your cat is dragging its bottom on the floor. The problem won’t go away on its own, so your cat will need to start a treatment plan based on the cause.
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Causes of Scooting in Cats
Scooting is the act of a cat dragging its bottom across the ground. Cats typically scoot on soft surfaces, like carpets or rugs.
A scooting cat should not be ignored. Very occasionally, the action may simply be a learned habit. Cats watch and imitate human or animal behavior. If you live with a dog or baby, the cat may be aping their behavior while scooting.
This will typically be a one-off. The cat will scoot, find it not to its liking, and cease. More often, the cat is attempting to relieve some form of discomfort or itchiness.
Scooting is rarely anything serious. Most causes of the behavior can be cleared up at home with minimal fuss. All the same, don’t allow your cat to make a habit of it.
Before you start considering medical diagnoses for scooting, ensuring that your cat is not scent marking. As per the Canadian Journal of Zoology, felines have scent glands in their, “tail area.” These glands are found in a cat’s anus.
This is why a cat sometimes shows you its bottom. It may look rude, but the cat is actually paying you a compliment. It is releasing a scent that denotes happiness to see you. It’s just that these aromas are not detectable by a human nose.
A fellow feline will have no trouble identifying scent markings of a cat. Scooting is a way for a cat to claim vast swathes of territory for itself. The cat is announcing to other pets that it has claimed the living room, bedroom or stairs.
Scooting for territory appears harmless, but it can lead to further issues down the line. A cat that feels its territory is being invaded can become belligerent and dominant. The scooting will also become a habit that grows ever harder to break.
Provide a cat with an established territory that meets its needs. Ideally, make this a room that you rarely enter. This will calm the cat down. Spaying and neutering also tempers a cat’s territorial instincts.
Unspayed female cats are likeliest to scent mark through scooting. When a female cat is in heat, she has only one intention. She wants to attract an intact tom to mate. In the likely event that no such cat lives in the home, she will improvise.
Female cats in heat take marking through scent to an elevated level. The pheromones contained in the cat’s scent are stronger than ever. Your cat will leave traces everywhere she goes. She may even escalate to marking with urine.
This is to magnify her chances of attracting a mate. This scenting is essentially a, “come and get me” plea. Expect countless intact males to take up this offer. You’ll need to keep your cat firmly behind locked doors. She will remain popular until her cycle concludes.
Parasites are a bane of feline life. The most common examples related to scooting are worms. These intestinal parasites will set up inside a cat’s digestive tract. An itchy anus will follow. Cats scoot along the ground to relieve this itchiness.
It’s also possible that your cat has fleas. Fleas are not fussy about what part of a cat’s body they attack. While the head and neck is popular, so is the base of the tail. From here, fleas can easily impact a cat’s skin around its bottom.
Most people associate scooting in pets with intestinal worm infestations. This is a common explanation for the behavior. It is advisable to regularly worm a cat, especially it roams outside.
Worms give a cat an infuriatingly itchy bottom. The cat will scoot constantly to relieve this itchiness. Simple scooting will only provide temporary relief, though. You may also notice small, rice-like flecks in your cat’s feces. These are the eggs of the worms.
If you do believe that your cat has worms, know your enemy. There are three main types of intestinal worm that can impact cats. The table below details these and explains how to recognize them.
|Tapeworms:||The most common form of intestinal parasite. Often connected to flea infestations. Can cause weight loss as the worm ingests a cat’s food|
|Roundworms:||Common in outdoor cats. Can lead to a pot-bellied appearance and matted fur. As per Parasitology, often linked to Toxoplasmosis|
|Hookworms:||Small but dangerous, these worms feed on the small intestine. Can cause anemia in cats, as well as weight loss and matted fur|
A dose of worming medication should resolve the problem in short order. You could also add a little Apple Cider Vinegar to your cat’s water. The acidity of this substance kills worms without harming your cat. The dead worms will be passed in feces.
Fleas may also flock around a cat’s bottom. Where these is blood to be found, fleas will congregate. As a rule, though, fleas will be located all over a cat’s fur. This should make them easy to spot. The cat will scratch all over, in addition to scooting.
The most effective cure for feline fleas is, as with worms, prevention. Ensure that you regularly protect your cat against bloodsucking parasites. If you have other pets, manage their treatments too. Fleas can jump from cats to dogs, and vice versa.
If your cat has fleas and basic treatment is not helping, invest in a medical shampoo. Check the shelves of a pet store first. If you cannot find something appropriate, ask for a professional prescription.
Once you have treated the cat’s fleas, you must wash everything in your home. Fleas lay eggs at a rate of knots. As per the Journal of Medical Entomology, the average cat flea lays over 150 eggs in its lifetime.
Further parasites may lie dormant in the carpet or soft furnishings. This means that your cat may quickly start scooting and scratching all over again. You must shampoo all carpets and fabrics that your cat frequents.
A cat dragging its bum on the floor after pooping usually has an unclean bottom. Cats love toilet paper but do utilize it for its intended use. Dragging their bottom on the carpet is the next best thing.
Poop stuck to a cat’s bum is no fun for anybody. Poop streaks on the floor are the first, and most obvious, concern. These are unsightly and may leave an unpleasant aroma. This smell may convince a cat to eliminate on carpet in future.
What’s more, as per the Journal of Experimental Medicine, cat feces can contain Toxoplasma gondii. This bacterium causes toxoplasmosis, which is dangerous to children and pregnant women. Clean your cat’s bottom with wet wipes, and a shower is necessary.
You should also assess why your cat is unable to clean itself. The likeliest explanations are a bout of diarrhea, a messy litter box, or restricted movement.
If you cat had diarrhea, withhold food for around twelve hours. After this period, serve your cat a bland meal. Chicken and rice is ideal. This will settle the cat’s stomach. If the problem persists for over 24 hours, investigate the possible cause further.
If your cat’s litter box was soiled, clean it up immediately. In addition, get into a stricter routine with this. Dirty litter can cause stress to cats. Your cat may eventually refuse to use the litter box at all if it is regularly soiled.
Inability to clean is a longer-term fix. Your cat may be struggling to reach its bottom if it is overweight. Excessive weight must be managed. Cats that carry extra pounds place more pressure on their joints, making future mobility issues likelier. What’s more, overweight cats live at greater risk of feline diabetes.
Alternatively, senior cats may be arthritic. This deprives cats of the flexibility required to contort into grooming position. Arthritis is a chronic, long-term problem. Focus on making your cat as comfortable possible and assist with grooming.
There is a chance your cat has a foreign object trapped in or around its bottom. Cats have limited short-range vision. Your cat may have sat on something without realizing it. If the cat feels this object, it may scoot in an attempt to remove it.
These items could be something comparatively innocuous, like clumped litter. This will usually fall off without limited effort. If you have children, small toys may also grow trapped in a cat’s fur. Lego bricks, for example, can imprint into a cat’s body.
Your cat may also have sat on something outdoors. If the cat relaxed or scooted on pavement, it may have stones trapped in its bottom. These will cause no end of itchiness and discomfort. The cat will scoot to relieve these sensations.
Give your cat’s bottom a thorough clean with wet wipes when it comes inside. Consider aiming a jet of water at the area too, such as a shower head. This will dislodge small objects. Just be aware that not all cats will welcome this. Ensure your cat is appropriately prepared.
Swollen Anal Glands
Cats have scent glands in their anus. These glands contain sacs, which need to be expressed regularly to prevent swelling. Most cats take care of this themselves. When a cat eliminates, the pressure applied by feces expresses the anal glands.
If a cat is constipated, or has loose stool due to poor diet, these glands can swell. This will be visible to the human eye. It will look as though your cat has hemorrhoids. The impact will also be similar. The anus will itch and become increasingly uncomfortable.
Cats with swollen anal glands scoot in an attempt to express them. The cat is hoping to burst the glands. This is rarely effective, especially on soft ground. The anal glands must be expressed manually.
Most professionals will do this for you. This could be a vet or even a pet groomer. Alternatively, if you are confident, it can be done at home. To express a cat’s anal glands:
- Place your cat on a flat surface and keep it calm
- Ask somebody to aid you in holding the cat steady
- Apply a pair of rubber gloves – this is messy work
- Locate the anal glands, located at the 5- and 7-o-clock positions on a cat’s rear
- Push the sacs in the anal glands with your thumb and index finger
- Wait for the sac to release all contents
- Clean the cat up, and reward it for its patience
Cats have sensitive skin, as soft as tissue paper. This means this skin can quickly become inflamed and irritated. While a cat’s bottom is largely covered with fur, it will have bald patches. Once these start to itch, the cat will seek comfort through scooting.
Cats can develop allergies to anything in their environment. Food is the most common culprit. Other common allergies in cats include:
- Air fresheners
- Perfumes and colognes
- Laundry detergent and fabric softener
- Cigarette smoke
- Changed litter in a tray
If a cat has an allergic reaction, its skin will suffer. It will begin to itch and potentially break out in hives. If skin around the bottom is impacted, scooting will follow. Most allergic reactions pass within an hour. Use this time to identify the allergy trigger and remove it.
Some cats are naturally prone to dry skin, while others develop it through environment. If a cat spends excessive time in the sun, for example, its skin may dry out. Poor diet, urine scald and mite infestations (aka mange) can also lead to dry skin.
Dry skin will be sore and itchy for your cat. It may also peel. The cat will scoot to remove and ‘sand off’ this layer of skin. The behavior is more commonplace on older or obese cats that cannot otherwise reach the area.
Dry skin can be resolved by applying a feline-friendly moisturizer. Vaseline or shea butter are good examples of this. These products will hydrate the skin. A better resolution is to identify the cause and eliminate this.
Lumps and Bumps
It’s rare, but a cat may have a growth or tumor around its anus. The cat will acknowledge these lumps and bumps. It will likely be uncomfortable. The cat will scoot in an attempt to relieve any itchiness or discomfort.
Check this area of your cat’s anatomy, ideally with a torch. If you find small, black spots, akin to freckles, these are usually harmless. This pigmentation is known as lentigo simplex. The bumps should not be elevated, and the cat should not react to having them touched.
It’s also possible that your cat has an acne outbreak. It is rare for this to impact the bottom, though. Feline acne is located on the chin. It could be a boil caused by allergies. Seek advice before lancing this with a needle.
If you notice raised bumps and lumps, this is obviously more concerning. Ensure this is not temporary swelling caused by bruising to the base of the spine. If your cat fell from height, for example, it may be hiding internal injuries. Your cat may also have been stung or bitten.
Other explanations are cysts and tumors. Delicately touch the lump. If the cat does not react, and the lump moves, it is probably a benign cyst. If the lump is solid and the cat retreats, it is likelier to be malignant.
In either case, have your cat’s lump investigated. Senior cats can be more prone to cancer and similar concerns. There is every chance the lump is nothing to worry about. It’s better to be safe than sorry, though. Early intervention always boasts a superior prognosis.
Your cat may have stung by a bee or wasp. This is common in outdoor cats during the summer. Cats do not always look where they sit. Cats may also wander into an insect’s terrain while hunting, making the rear an easy target.
Unless your cat has a serious allergy and enters shock, this is not dangerous. It will be sore though, and create swelling on the cat’s bottom. The cat may scoot to relieve any pain.
If your cat has been stung by a bee, do not remove the stinger with tweezers. This will squeeze the sting, release more venom. Scrape it off with the side of a credit card. Mix a little baking soda with water and apply this to the area. This will neutralize the sting.
Wasp stings are slightly different. The sting of these insects is alkaline, where a bee sting is acidic. This makes vinegar and water is the best way to soothe a wasp sting. A cloth doused in cool water will also minimize swelling. This, in turn, will cease the scooting.
If your cat underwent surgery, scooting may follow. It all depends on the procedure. A professional tooth cleaning, for example, should not lead to this behavior. The cat’s bottom will not have been impacted.
Other procedures may require shaving of a cat’s fur. This will lead to itchiness around the area. This should only last a day or two. The cat will adjust, and the fur will quickly grow back. Try to deter scooting in the meantime. The cat may burst stitches.
Stitches, in and of themselves, will also itch. A post-operative cat is especially unlikely to reach stitches in this area to lick. Scooting is the best relief available, especially if the cat is wearing an Elizabethan collar.
Work around this by asking your vet for a body suit rather than a cone. These are comparable to a human child’s sleepsuit. These garments protect a cat’s bottom from connecting with the ground.
A cat scooting its butt on the floor has a cause, usually connected to discomfort. It is important to diagnose the issue and treat it.