Aby-a-Day – 28 May: Nothing butt the truth (Medical Monday)

Today’s post is…I’m not going to lie. Today’s post is kind of nasty.

Today’s post is about cats’ anal glands. Now, 99.9% of cat owners don’t even know their cats have anal glands. But if you completely ignore them, it’s (pardon the expression) a complete pain in the ass.


It started with Jacoby, who has had a history of soft poops, which means that his anal glands don’t get expressed natually when he poops. When he started smelling “whiffy,” I would have my vet express them…but it was happening too often to make that a regular thing. He was young and trusting, and I used to have to do this with my old Siamese Harri, so I started expressing Jake’s anal glands the same way I used to do Harri’s. He let me…and now it’s routine. But almost every other week, I’m justified.

I know this is a completely disgusting topic. The stuff in your cat’s anal glands is related to the stuff that skunks spray when they feel threatened. There are two methods used to empty the anal gland sacs; I use the “squeezing a zit” method as opposed to the more invasive, “grab the rubber gloves and the lube” method. It works, and I can sleep at night.


If you haven’t had the pleasure of dealing with cats’ anal glands.…well, it’s about as pleasant as the words “anal” and “glands” in the same sentence might lead you to believe. Tessie had a problem with hers that ultimately required an anaesthetised procedure, and when I helped my vet to hold her while she looked at the problem, Tessie nearly ripped my throat out. So it pays to get your kittens used to having their bums squoze before it becomes a problem.


Because Jake needed his glands expressed on a regular basis, when we added Alfred and Logan, and later Lorelai, to our family I added “checking the bum” to the bi-weekly grooming routine of weighing, clipping claws, cleaning ears, scraping and brushing teeth (except Angel) and combing and rubbing with Bay Rum and a chamois cloth. I think it helps; at least, it should prevent any horrific issues.

The reason for this post is due to the fact that, this past weekend for the first time ever, I was able to express Angel’s glands. And believe me, she needed it done. It’s a not-so-nice aspect of cat parenting…but it’s an important one. As our friends at Cats Herd You say, why don’t we cat owners talk about these sorts of things more?

Edit: Our friend Summer suggested I post a tutorial on how to do this. Turns out there’s a Japanese YouTube video featuring an Abyssinian that shows pretty much how I do it (but not exactly). For more information on how I express the cats’ glands, read my reply to Summer in comments.

5 thoughts on “Aby-a-Day – 28 May: Nothing butt the truth (Medical Monday)

    1. Turns out…I don’t even need to! Here’s a YouTube video that shows how to do it pretty much the same way I do it (I hold the cats like that)…and it features an Abyssinian! Two caveats…one, I don’t do it so…I don’t know, seductively? I basically do it like squeezing a zit, with a finger on each side of the gland opening (they kind of pop out a little when the cat, er, clenches, and that makes it easier. The second caveat is that it very rarely (at least when I do it) just oozes out slowly. It POPS out and if you aren’t careful, it will hit you on your shirt or even face (Angel’s hit the side of the toilet)! I started using the witch hazel pads meant for hemorrhoids (like Tucks, although I used the cheap CVS version) after a vet tech friend mentioned that the pads not only soothe the area, but cut the horrific stink quite a lot! I use the pad to wipe the openings beforehand (there’s often a dried plug) and then use it as a sort of shield/catcher for when the goo comes out. But…sometimes I miss.

      Since I check them every other week, there’s not always anything in them. Sometimes, just a dribble. Other times, it’s thick and slow, like thick toothpaste. Other things to keep in mind…be gentle, because you CAN rupture them if you squeeze too hard (that mainly happens in dogs, though, because most cats won’t let you press too hard), and remember that some cats HATE their bums squoze and may attempt to claw your face off (Tessie almost did it to me when I was helping to hold her while the vet did it).

      Here’s that video:

      (I also don’t wear gloves when I do this. My hands are washable, and I can feel the glands better without them.)


  1. If the glands aren’t attended to they can become infected and rupture, as happened to one of my friend’s cats. THAT is a rel mess. (The cat survived ok.)


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