Scooting is a polite term for a pet dragging its butt along the floor. This behavior is common in dogs, but it also happens with cats. When a cat drags its bum across the floor, it usually means it has an itchy or irritated bottom.
Cats drag their bum on the floor due to diarrhea, constipation, allergies, anal gland irritation, and worms. If the cat has diarrhea, it’ll scoot to clean its butt. Poor nutrition can lead to constipation, so it’ll scoot because it wants to waste. If it’s experiencing allergies, worms, or anal gland problems, it’ll scoot to ease itchiness or pain.
To stop your cat from scooting, you’ll need to resolve the underlying problem. You can seek a vet’s advice for anal gland irritations and allergies. For diarrhea and constipation, you can make changes to your cat’s diet. Worms can be treated with a dewormer, but you may need a medical-grade solution.
What Does Scooting Mean In Cats?
Scooting is the physical activity where a cat drags its rear end across a surface, such as a rough floor or carpeted area.
Your cat will appear to be sitting upright in a human posture or as if it is attempting to scratch its rear. Scratching or scraping the hind end or rubbing it against other objects is also common scooting behavior in cats.
Scooting is rarely an urgent health concern, but it can mean that your cat is experiencing discomfort. The behavior can also impact your home’s hygiene.
Sometimes, it may be followed by a foul smell or residue left behind. Cats that scoot may have diarrhea or other litter box issues, such as painful defecation.
Let’s explore the most common reasons for scooting in cats:
Diarrhea is the most common symptom of infections in the digestive tract.
The nature of the problem causes poop to get stuck underneath your cat’s tail. When this happens, your cat will try to clean the area by dragging or wiping it across the floor.
To prevent this from happening, check for any loose or watery stools in your cat’s litter box. You should also examine your cat. If you notice feces stuck to its fur, gently clean the area using a warm wet cloth. You can also book an appointment with a veterinarian if diarrhea persists for several days.
In most cases, the digestive infection will clear up without any intervention. However, your vet might suggest medications like antibiotics or probiotics to speed up the process.
All cats are carnivores, relying on nutrients that are found in animal products.
Some packaged, store-bought cat foods add corn fillers and other ingredients that aren’t healthy for cats. A common symptom of an unbalanced diet and poor nutrition is constipation.
Constipation can give your pet the urge to drag its bum and scoot across the floor. You can resolve this by ensuring your cat’s food has high protein content, moderate fats, and minimal carbohydrates.
The right nutrition will stop constipation, preventing your cat from scooting.
Food or Environmental Allergies
Sometimes, kitty litters, cleaning products, or houseplants may cause allergies.
Sometimes, cats are allergic to a type of litter, so switch to an unfragranced, low-allergen variety.
Many owners have difficulty finding laundry detergent for their cat’s bedding that doesn’t cause allergic reactions. At times, even ingredients in food or medicines can cause allergies.
If your cat has an allergic reaction, it may scoot across the floor to try and scratch an itch it feels around its tail.
Keep a lookout for the symptoms of allergies in cats:
- Licking or chewing paws
- Swollen paws
- Throat inflammation
- Watery eyes
- Eye scratching
- Inflamed skin
- Ear infections
- Scratching ears
A radioallergosorbent (RAST) test can be used to determine if a cat is allergic to certain antigens.
Anal Gland Irritation
According to British Small Animal Veterinary Association, a cause of scooting behavior in cats may be an anal gland infection that also causes perianal irritation.
If you notice redness or swelling around the anal area along with scooting, it can mean your feline’s anal glands are the problem. Excessive licking of the anal area and defecation outside the litter box are signs of an anal gland infection.
While anal gland infections are more common with dogs than cats, cats are not immune to them. Their glands can get infected or inflamed and get clogged. When this happens, a vet will need to express the excess fluid.
Is Scooting a Sign of Worms in Cats?
If your cat drags or wipes its bottom the floor, parasites might be the issue.
In addition to scooting, symptoms of worms include:
- Excessive coughing
- A dull coat
- Mucus in the stool
- A swollen belly
Both indoor and outdoor cats are susceptible to worms, and most cats get worms through contact with infected pieces of feces or eggs. Many cats contract worms by hunting and eating rodents infected with parasites.
If your cat contracts worms, it can experience low energy, anemia, and viral or bacterial infections. A vet will suggest giving dewormer several times per year, and the treatment of some parasites may require prescription medications.
Why Would a Female Cat Drag Her Bottom on the Floor?
Do you see your female cat scooting and leaving poop on rough surfaces? Is she licking her bottom quite often? If so, she may have infected and inflamed anal glands.
A female cat may be dragging her bottom on the floor due to itchiness caused by:
- Skin infections
- Perianal fistula
Do Cats Scoot to Mark Territory?
According to the Canadian Journal of Zoology, cats have scent glands in various places, including around the anus. These anal sacs contain dark liquid that’s usually expelled when a cat poops. Felines use these to mark their territories with their unique scent.
With that in mind, scooting and dragging their bum across the floor is not a common technique cats use to mark their territories, as it’s not as efficient as merely peeing or pooping in an area.
Some cats, especially those in the wild, may scoot to mark their territories, but it’s rare. Because of that, if your domesticated cat is scooting, there’s usually an underlying health cause behind this behavior.
How to Stop Cats from Scooting
There is no one treatment or preventative measure to stop cats from scooting. The right course of action for your cat’s scooting behavior will depend on the explanation.
With infected anal glands, your vet will try to alleviate your cat’s symptoms by expressing the glands manually. This is done by gently pinching the cat’s anus on either side of the opening, so the excess impacted fluid can drain out.
Worms or parasites may be the issue if your cat is still scooting after its glands are expressed. In this case, your vet will suggest de-worming medication, which is a liquid squirted directly into a cat’s mouth.
Some cats experience mild diarrhea for several days after de-worming medication, but it usually goes away on its own. After the de-worming treatment, your vet will prescribe take-home medication for your cat for regular parasite control.
If allergies, constipation, or skin infections are causing scooting behavior in your cat, your vet might suggest topical medications or dietary changes.
Is Cat Scooting Normal?
Scooting behavior in cats indicates that something is wrong with your cat. A cat usually doesn’t scoot unless:
- Something is irritating its bottom
- It has something stuck near its bum, such as poop
A cat dragging its bum on the floor after pooping may be unsanitary but shouldn’t require a vet’s intervention. In most cases, it’s an issue with its diet or indicates the cat has a minor stomach infection that should resolve on its own. Constipation and diarrhea are usually the causes of this type of scooting.
However, some cats scoot because they have parasites or worms that give them an itchy bottom. They may also be experiencing anal gland problems caused by infections, irritation, and blockages in the scent sacs in their bottom.