An embarassing issue: clearning an anal gland blockage? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-19-2005, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2005
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An embarassing issue: clearning an anal gland blockage?

Please pardon the long post.
This is a touchy subject and is rather unpleasant to discuss, so I hope I am not exceeding the boundaries of decency.

I have noticed for some time (about a month) that one of our neutered 6-y.o. male cats had a been developing an odd posture when he walked but was never in apparent distress. Just a bit stiff-legged in the rear legs at time.

He also had the embarassing habit of wanting to sit with his rectal orifice touching some part of you. We usually just pushed down lightly on his back hips to avoid his doing this unpleasant posture.

Today, he was even more adamant about it than usual, so I decided to get a hand-warmed baby wet wipe and lightly clean the area. As I was doing so, I noticed what I assume to be two small openings: one on each side of the rectum. If I understand cat anatomy, I believe these are his anal glands.

One appeared to have a small bit of hard dark material that looked at first to be the size and shape of a black claw, as it would extend from his paw.

I continued to gently wipe the area until this material came out, with only a slight bit of pressure on the side of the area. (the cat did protest somewhat loudly, but I think it was more of insult than pain) I continued to clean the area, but there still appears to be a very dark greenish-black stain or additonal material within the anal gland.

I followed the advice given to me by a vet friend a few years ago to take a wooden kitchen match with tip intact, lubricate it with petroleum jelly, and genlty insert only the very tip of the match, not past the sulfur, into the rectum to cause the anal glands to release. The side that I was not concerned about did release (more than I cared to know about...ewww) but by this time he was too upset for me to continue.

I have given him a dose "Organic Pet Calm" drops and am allowing him the time to hide in his kitty tree and settle down emotionally. After a while, I intend to bathe him and check him more carefully to see if there is any evidence of a blockage still remaining on that side.

I am not a vet, and have lost contact with my vet friend over the years, so I am a bit unsure as to what I am doing. If anyone has experience with an issue such as this, and feels it is okay for me to pursue treating him myself, I would appreciate feedback.

I will certainly take him to his vet if he appears too stressed to allow me to handle in an hour or so, or if he becomes in any apparent physical distress, but feel that this is probably something I can do at home, without having to put him on medication or the stress of a vet visit (which turns him into a wreck for weeks afterward).

I think he is handling this better than I am, actually

Thanks again to everyone for any help suggested!
Brynn is offline  
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-19-2005, 03:26 PM
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It certainly sounds like he has infected anal glands, which I would say requires the attention of a vet. His recent unusual posture would suggest pain or possible nerve damage. I have never heard of inserting a match into the rectum, but would not recommend sticking anything up there, just in case. I empty dogs anal glands (I'm a vet nurse) but wouldn't attempt to do so on a concious cat myself. Thats a job for the vet!
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-19-2005, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. I have been holding him, now that he is calm, and just gently wiping from time to time with a warm wet wipe.

I gave up on the lubricated match-tip idea pretty quickly, not wanting to cause harm to him (or myself)

He did expel more residue from the side that I was concerned about and I no longer see the discoloration (the first bit of fluid after the blockage was removed was darker and a bit discolored, followed by very light brown).

Unfortuantely, I have seen more than my desired share of this through my years of being owned by various cats and dogs. Usually on a very nice "dry clean only" article of clothing.

It did seem to be a bit excessive in amount, as compared to a spontaneous release, but since this has taken place, he groomed himself thoroughly and has been extra-ordinarily affectionate toward me. His posture seems to be more relaxed and he has followed me through the house 'chirping' ever since.

I don't think he has experienced any pain or nerve damage but won't rule it out. I will take him in for a vet-check just to be sure.

Thanks again!
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-19-2005, 04:51 PM
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Nothing about kitties is out of bounds! Don't worry, you're not the only one, a search will bring up several threads....this one has a lot of info and links for you - Anal gland secretion?

Let us know how the vet check goes.
Superkitties is offline  
post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-19-2005, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the great links, superkitties!

Tons of wonderful info there. I remember Jag having some anal gland issues when he was very young, but it never happened again and I didn't think any more about it.

Jazzy had a couple of episodes when we first got her, and it surprised her as much as it surprised me. I picked her up (she had just been through her second "spay" at the time and was in the final healing stages), noticed an odor and she had this "oh, my goodness" look on her face and was performing acrobats to clean 'something' off of my new jacket (of course)

After the incident with Jag today, I felt obliged to lift the tail of every cat in the house. They were not pleased with me and I am sure they felt violated. Jag seems to be feeling "relieved" if that is possible.

I will keep everyone posted after he has his check in a couple of days.

Thanks again for the links and the info. If I need to get the vet to teach me how to do this, well, I've done things more entertaining, but after raising two kids and countless pets...scooping 3 litter boxes daily and cleaning up after my husband I think I can manage.
Brynn is offline  
post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-20-2005, 11:28 AM Thread Starter
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Jag had his vet-check this morning, and all is fine. Jag was even less cooperative with the vet than he was with me *poking around* in his business.

The vet said that his anal sacs are empty (well...NOW they are!) They certainly were NOT empty yesterday.

He showed me what to do, and said that it wouldn't harm my kitties in any way if I *want* to check them from time to time. Oh, boy! Sounds like fun!

Anyway, there is no sign of infection, but the vet said that he did appear to be a bit sensitive as if there had been a blockage (I could have told him that much!) He also said that the way Jag walks is probably the way he has always walked and I just never really sign of any nerve damage, etc...

He made a note in Jag's chart to check for this on his annual visits, and if I noticed anything that concerned me in this regard I could bring him in (for the $30 office visit plus $15 "procedure") or do it myself. I have worked as a medical asst. to human docs, as well as raised two kids, so I am really not as "put off" by this procedure as most people. I have seen much worse...which I won't share here.

Jag has been more playful and loving than I have ever seen him before. He has been chasing his catnip-filled fuzzy purple rat all over the house like a cute! Plus, he hasn't stopped talking about it. I think he has told all of the other cats about his ordeal, and suspect he is either thanking me or using kitty profanity. Probably both

Just wanted to bring everyone up-to-date. Thanks again for replies!
Brynn is offline  
post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-20-2005, 12:07 PM
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Re: *update*

Originally Posted by Brynn
Plus, he hasn't stopped talking about it. I think he has told all of the other cats about his ordeal, and suspect he is either thanking me or using kitty profanity. Probably both

Just wanted to bring everyone up-to-date. Thanks again for replies!
I really giggled at this part. Kitties are soo particular, aren't they?
emrldsky is offline  
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