How To Express A Cat’s Anal Glands [7 Easy Steps]

Is your cat trying to lick its bottom more than usual? Do you feel that there’s a problem with their anal glands? Cats have 2 anal glands found right beneath the anus. When they poop, these glands are squeezed releasing a nasty-smelling oily liquid.

In pet cats, these glands don’t serve a real purpose but they sometimes cause real problems. In some cases, the anal glands might get inflamed and need to be manually expressed.

If your vet has recommended that you should express your cat’s anal glands at home, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explain how to express a cat’s anal glands so you can save effort and time.


How To Express A Cat’s Anal Glands

Cats might face problems with their anal glands as the ducts become clogged due to the buildup of the liquid. When not treated, clogged glands can become severely inflamed so that the vet might choose to drain or remove them.

  • Getting a vet’s appointment every time you need to express your cat’s anal glands isn’t the most practical solution. Although not enjoyable, this procedure can be done at home.
  • Soothe the cat to make sure that he’s not scared so you can perform the procedure.
  • Make sure that the cat is flat and stable.
  • Wipe the area clean to remove any dried secretions to examine the glands thoroughly.
  • Use a warm compress to soften any hard-to-remove secretions.
  • Pinch the glands at 4 and 8 o’clock to the anus to express the fluid. Make a gentle pinching motion upwards.
  • Examine the fluid to see if it’s filled with blood or pus.
  • Clean the area before letting your cat go.

Doing this regularly can save your cat a lot of pain and discomfort.

What Issues Affect the Cat’s Anal Glands?

Both male and female cats have these glands on both sides of the anus. They’re as small as peas and are located right under the skin.

In the wild, cats poop and their feces push against the balloon-like glands, thus producing a smelly liquid. This liquid helps them mark their territory and send messages to other cats in the area. However, domesticated cats don’t need to do this.

Cats can also express their anal glands without pooping. They usually do that when they’re scared or stressed. This happens, for example, if your cat is extremely stressed about visiting the vet or when there’s another cat in the area. If you feel that your cat is producing a nasty smell, then he is probably expressing his anal glands on purpose.

These glands produce an oily liquid that could be clear or slightly yellow. Sometimes, these glands become clogged and intervention is needed. The liquid might be too thick, chalky or gritty if it’s not released regularly.

The buildup of the liquid can be painful and dangerous if left untreated. Here are some of the common issues that might affect your cat’s anal glands.

Bad Diet

If your cat isn’t following a healthy diet, they might not poop as often they should. Eating more fibers will regulate the bowel movement and help extract the anal glands, preventing them from getting clogged with the oily liquid.

In some cases, the cat might be obese so the anal glands can’t be expressed naturally. Following a balanced diet that helps the cat to lose weight can help resolve the inflammation so that the anal glands can be expressed naturally.


An infection happens due to the accumulation of bacteria inside the glands. The anal glands can become swollen or itchy, especially if the cat starts to scratch them against different objects.



When an infection isn’t treated properly, it can become overly inflamed and filled with pus. In this case, the anal glands have to be treated by a vet who might need to drain them before they rupture.


This is probably the most common problem that you might face with your cat’s anal glands. This happens when a duct or tube gets clogged, thus preventing the fluid from passing through. Your cat will get extremely irritated and might eventually get constipated because it feels painful to poop.

What Are the Symptoms that You Should Look Out For?

If your cat is suffering from the following symptoms, then it’s time to consult the vet. He or she will state the best way to deal with the situation.

  • Your cat doesn’t poop as often. If there’s no change in the cat’s diet, then there’s probably an inflammation in the glands that prevents it from defecation.
  • Your cat is dragging his bottom across the floor. This action is known as scooting because the cat keeps on scratching his bottom against the floor to soothe the pain.
  • If he’s trying to chase his tail more than usual, then you need to check his bottom to see if there’s an infection or a swollen gland.
  • The cat is licking its tail and trying to lick its bottom. He might be experiencing pain or discomfort that they’re trying to soothe.
  • You can detect that there’s a hard mass around the anus. Examining your cat’s body every now and then will help you find out if there’s something wrong.

Once your vet has determined that there’s a problem with the cat’s anal glands, he or she will start to manually extract them. In most cases, the vet will have to sedate the cat to remove the clogged contents of the glands.

Calico cat rubbing its head and ears against a seated person's foot.

After the gland is expressed and cleaned, it might need to get flushed to make sure that all the buildup is removed. The vet might prescribe antibiotics to fight off any future inflammation. If anal glands keep on getting clogged and showing symptoms, then the vet might choose to have them surgically removed.

How to Express a Cat’s Anal Glands

Expressing the anal glands is something that your vet will regularly do to make sure that there’s no problem with them. The vet has the right tools that allow them to do this process successfully every time you take the cat for a checkup.

In some cases, your vet might advise you to manually express your cat’s anal glands. This is done when the ducts usually get clogged. Vet’s sometimes recommend that we express anal glands on our own so we won’t have to visit the vet’s office very often.

Although this process isn’t enjoyable for you or the cat, it’s usually a must. Going to the vet every time the glands are clogged isn’t the most practical solution. You need to have them cleaned before they get clogged to avoid serious issues.

Ask the vet for instructions before attempting to do this procedure at home. You might even ask him or her for a demo before you try to do the procedure on your own. Here are the steps that you can follow to express the glands successfully.

  1. Ask a friend or a family member to help you while doing this procedure. He or she will stabilize the cat to prevent it from moving all of a sudden.
  2. Make sure that the cat is positioned away from you. He will feel less anxious not seeing the tools you’re using or what you’re getting ready to do.
  3. Keep the cat on a flat solid surface. Placing the cat on the couch is not recommended because it can easily reposition itself easily. The surface should be of adequate height so you can see the glands.
  4. Get a clipper to trim the hair around the anus. This helps you see the area clearly to examine the anal glands.
  5. Pull the tail up to locate the anal glands on the sides of the anus.
  6. Use water to rinse the area to remove any dried secretions. This will help you determine if the glands are clogged or inflamed. You can also see if there’s a tumor.
  7. If the dried secretions are hard to remove, use a warm compress to soften them up.
  8. Make sure that you’re wearing surgical gloves and press the anal glands gently. Pinch them upwards using the thumb and forefinger to help the liquid ooze out. If you can smell a distinctively bad smell, then you’ve released the liquid.
  9. Look out for blood or pus. If the discharge seems chalky, is contaminated with pus or blood, then you need to contact a vet. A professional intervention is needed.
  10. Don’t try to remove a tumor. Contact the vet immediately.
  11. Use a clean moist piece of cloth to wipe the area. Do this as regularly as recommended by the vet to make sure that the glands don’t get clogged.


Being a pet owner puts you in a position to act promptly when the cat is feeling pain or discomfort. Expressing the cat’s anal glands regularly prevents it from getting clogged which can cause serious inflammation.

This process isn’t easy or enjoyable but it’s usually a must. You can do it with the help of a family member or a friend who can stabilize the cat while you examine and express the anal glands. Keep an eye on your cat’s behavior to know when you need to repeat the whole process.

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