Cats seem to always have their rears in our face (see Why Does My Cat Put Her Rear In My Face?), but have you ever really thought about it? We love our cats from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tails, but we do not give much thought to cat butts… until there is a problem.
All animals have a digestive tract and the anus/surrounding area are called the perineum. The anus is the conclusion of your cat’s GI tract and serves as the exit for the digested food wastes. Although waste and its removal are not high on the list of dinnertime conversation, waste generation and removal are critical to survival.
Everyone has a rear and there are things that you should know about your cat’s bum to help keep him healthy.
1. More Than Meets The Eye
A cat’s rectum is more than just a “poop chute.” Although the rectum and anus do serve their critical purpose of the final stage of waste removal from the body, that function is not all that goes on around the area. Your cat has anal glands located on either side of the rectum that produce a foul smelling fluid. Very similar structures are used by a skunk to spray his characteristic stench, so you can imagine that a cat’s anal glands are capable of some stink! For cats, they seem to serve little purpose other than marking and identification. Because the glands occupy real estate close to fecal contamination, they can become infected and abscess.
2. They’ve Got A Lotta Nerve
The perineal area is a very sensitive area possessing more than its share of nerve endings. This means that if your cat does have any issue back there, it hurts…a lot. Bite wounds, lacerations and infections can all occur in this area, and if your cat has something going on in the area, it is truly a pain in the rear. Anything that happens near the anus has the potential to be very painful. If your cat is overweight, she is more likely to have issues in the rear because she cannot groom back there very well. Frequently, obese cats come to the veterinarian for redness and inflammation in the perineal area and sometimes they require a “sanitary clip” to help hygiene in this area.
3. It’s More Than A Feeling
Not only pain is heightened in the perineal area, itching can be intense here also. It is sometimes associated with allergic disease, intestinal parasites, and even fleas. Most of the issues that cause perineal trouble will require a vet’s help. The same story holds true here: if you or your cat notices a problem “back there,” it is probably even more uncomfortable than it seems.
The next time your cat “presents rear,” glance around the area and make sure that everything looks normal. Pay attention to your cat and if he is paying extra attention to his nether regions, make sure you ask your vet!
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