4 Ways the Cat Butt Can Give You a Bigger Picture of Your Kitty’s Health

Did you know: The state of a cat butt is a good way to gauge your kitty's health. Let's learn more about what cat bums can tell you.

A cat showing her butt or tail.
Talk to the tail! What is your cat's tail trying to tell you? Photography ©Tomwang112 | Thinkstock.

What do a bunch of cat veterinarians talk about when they’re hanging out at a party together? Cat poop, of course, says Dr. Jean Hofve, holistic veterinarian, author, and founder of the site Little Big Cat. Why? Because the state of a cat’s poop is one of the fastest ways to help determine what might be wrong with an ailing kitty. Poop is important to your cat’s health, so it stands to reason that the place where it exits, the cat butt, would be, too. Here are four important things you should know about caring for the cat butt.

A cat licking and grooming his butt.
Dingleberries are just one cat butt problem. Photography ©LeventKonuk | Thinkstock.

1. Cat butt dingleberries

If you have a longhaired cat like my Romeo, you’ve probably seen little pieces of poop clinging to a cat butt now and then. It’s especially awesome when you discover this right after your cat has jumped up on your pillow and your face is two inches from the offending clump.

Dingleberries can occur if your cat’s poop is soft and is especially prevalent in cats with diarrhea. If your cat has the runs, it’s a good idea to get him checked by a vet right away.

The best thing to do to keep the berries at bay is to keep that cat butt trimmed of excess fur. You can carefully do this yourself or take your cat to the vet or groomer for a “sanitary trim.”

2. Should you wipe a cat butt?

Well, it depends. Does your the cat butt in question need wiping? Technically, your cat should be able to handle that himself, says Hofve. However, she adds, there are circumstances when he’s going to need some assistance.

  1. Soft poop: If your cat’s poop is softer than normal, it could stick to his bottom. Typically your cat gets to this himself, but he might not get it all so you may need to help.
  2. Overweight cats: If your cat’s overweight, it might be hard for him to reach all the way behind him to clean up, explains Hofve. That’s good incentive to get your chubby kitty on a diet, yes?
  3. Arthritic cats: If an older cat suffers from arthritis, he might also have trouble bending that far to get to his poop chute.

Warm water on a soft washcloth is the best way to clean a cat butt, Hofve advises. You can also use baby wipes or pet cleansing wipes like Earth Bath All Natural Cat Wipes, which I sometimes use.

Wipes are fine if your cat can’t reach his bum by himself at all. But if your cat can reach but simply hasn’t done such a bang-up job, just use plain water. You don’t want your cat licking himself and then ingesting chemicals, however mild, from the wipes.

An orange ginger tabby cat looking backward at his butt.
Cat scooting is an indication that you should take your cat to the vet. Photography © GlobalP | iStock.

3. Cat scooting

We’ve all witnessed this common cat butt issue. Your cat hops out of the box and immediately plops down onto the floor and appears to be wiping his bum with your carpet. Or sometimes it may happen out of the blue. Regardless, no one wants to have to clean up skid marks from her light-colored Berber rug.

Cat scooting, though, is actually a good thing, because it indicates there’s an issue at hand. From diarrhea to allergies to worms, something’s going on back there and your cat’s scooting should tell you that he’s not feeling comfortable. If your cat is dragging his bum on the floor, take him for a visit with the vet.

4. Common health issues associated with the cat butt

Paying attention to what’s going on in your cat’s butt is a good idea. By knowing what’s coming out, you’ll be attuned to health issues. But also pay attention to the cat butt area itself. If there’s anything weird going on down there, get your kitty to the vet right away.

  1. One common problem you might experience with a cat butt is swollen anal glands. The anal glands, located on either side of the anal opening, secrete an important scent that coats the poop and is used for marking. A normal poop coming through the rectum puts just enough pressure on the glands to release the scent. But if a poop is too hard or too soft, it won’t prompt that release. Over time, the glands back up and become swollen and uncomfortable.
    • You probably won’t be able to see the impacted glands because “they swell to the inside,” says Hofve. But, she says, “scooting is one of the signs that anal glands are impacted. Or your cat might be licking a lot at the area or doing strange yoga positions to try and get at it.”
    • If your cat exhibits any of these behaviors, get him checked at the vet. If the issue is impacted anal glands, your vet will manually empty them. And, cautions Hofve, don’t try to express the glands yourself. Improper technique can create quite a mess.
  2. You also might periodically see little wiggling things (gag) in your cat’s poop or hanging out of the opening. If you do, get your cat to the vet right away. These are likely worms, and if they’re hanging out in the exit area, the problem is already advanced. In fact, if anything odd is hanging out of your cat’s butt or in his poop (like string, for example) take him to the vet. Even if the string appears to have come out completely, there may still be a piece inside your cat’s body. Your vet will do an X-ray or ultrasound to be sure no string is left, tangled up in your kitty’s organs.

Who knew the cat butt was such an important area? Staying up in your cat’s business will keep you aware and informed about the state of his health.

Tell us: What cat butt issues have you encountered?

Thumbnail: Photography ©Tomwang112 | Thinkstock.

This piece was originally published in 2012.

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Read Next: Is Your Cat Losing Weight? How to Tell and What to Do

60 thoughts on “4 Ways the Cat Butt Can Give You a Bigger Picture of Your Kitty’s Health”

    When she was a baby, she climbed at 100 foot conifer and could not come down. Days went by and we finally found a guy who was a Cat Rescurer who climbed the tree, captured her, and put her in a bar to protect her and himself, on the way down. 300 feet from the ground, she began freaking out and he dropped her. She survived and became a beautiful young cat, and then she got fat. It took me a very long time until I realized that her vision is poor. She would hesitate going out the front door. I had a Burgundy pattern rug on the floor before the door, and she would always walk around it to get to the open door. This went on for years before I realized that she was walking around it because she saw it as a hole in the floor. That's when I knew she was half-blind. Anyway, she has always been overweight, and doesn't do much. She is now ten years old. My serious problem is 'poopy butt' and in the past, I would clip the dingle balls away. Now, she has become reclusive and definitely does not want her butt messed with. What can I do? Taking her to a Vet will freak her out worse. Please advise. Thank you so much. HELP!!!!!

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  4. My cat has soft pops now for about 4 days but seems fine otherwise still eating and drinking. She’s long haired so she gets poo on her fur and I have to wipe her bum or she will leave it everywhere she sits :( she hates me wiping her bum, can’t say I like it myself but have no choice!!! I’d like to give her some home cooked food but she never eats anything other than whiskas or gourmet petite she’s fussy. She likes tuna from a can though will that help?

  5. Well I noticed a lot of info about butts and poo balls but another thing to watch for is pee balls. I have a female cat and 2 weeks ago my neighbor began a renovation on his house. I am a cottage just behind so much was happening in our shared space. I found pee balls in the cat box when I cleaned it and several were bright with blood. We went right to the vet. Turns out it was idiopathic cystitis. We now have a pheromone sprayer in the house to calm her. It has worked like a charm and the cystitis has gone away. Just one more thing to look for in that litter box.

    1. Definitely, paying attention to the state of a cat’s pee habits is equally important. I noticed that my cats’ boxes were smelling different…the urine was not as ammonia smelling. It actually smelled sort of fruity. Then, I noticed there was a lot more of it. It turned out that my male cat was diabetic. These are some of the symptoms.

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  10. A cat I have coming sometimes to me for food when I saw him this morning after not seeing him for a two days,I noticed his bottom was very protruding and pink.I am worried about his health as it is getting colder and I want him to be well cared for and well.I am worried that he is probably getting sicker as his meowing sounds very croaky.I just want him to have a loving home and it warm as he has had a terrible life,being dumped and then trying to find food.

    1. Hi Laura,
      Thanks for reaching out! This article might provide some further insight:

  11. We have 2 sisters from when they were 8weeks old…21/2years now…. all of a sudden one is pooping on the carpet in the shower and in the bedroom……I have cleaned litter boxes,bought 2 New litter boxes,yelled at her . Don’t know what else to do….the poop is normal..no changes made in her ecco system any suggestionss would be appreciated

    1. Hi there,

      Here are some articles that might help. Please don’t yell at your kitties!

  12. we rescued Baxter at the Cat Hospital, where he had been an in-house resident cat. they were very gracious, as they had previously microchipped him, neutered, and given him all vaccines with no charge. 2 days after he was home, i noticed a couple of pieces of “rice” on his butthole. i went to them and they gave me the meds, and said they’d found some on one of their other residents. roundworms–treat immediately, as it causes a cat significant discomfort.

  13. Cat poop should be well formed. Too ‘soft’ poop that smears on hair, would be a warning sign for me.

    If you make your own foods (which is as easy like making your own/kids food you can change type and amounts of ingredients to get normal bowl movements. As long as you feed/eat real (whole foods) that can be supplemented to your needs.

        1. My cat has soft pops now for about 4 days but seems fine otherwise still eating and drinking. She’s long haired so she gets poo on her fur and I have to wipe her bum or she will leave it everywhere she sits :( she hates me wrong her bum, can’t say I like it myself but have no choice!!! If like to g give her some home cooked food but she never rats anything other than whiskas or gourmet petite she’s fussy. She likes tuna from a can though will that help?

    1. Therry Neilsen-Steinhardt

      And our vet calls them Klingons! we just got Miss Misha’s butt trimmed. She’s not happy, but her butt looks wonderful!

  14. 5 or 6 week old kitten…. intestine ,or part of kittens anal stays out at least 1/4 of inch. It is pink in color but looks clean. What to do ? Will a warm cloth help. Kitten is otherwise normal. Doesn’t show pain and plays around like nothing is wrong.

    1. Hi there Darla,

      Thanks for reaching out! We suggest taking your kitten to the vet to get a professional opinion.

    2. Some cats are just born like that. If the cat isnt exhibiting any signs of pain. Nor is there any redness, irritation, or rashing, Then its completely normal! ???? Hope i helped.

  15. My 5 year old male cat has what looks like a long small dingleberry on the corner of his butthole. It is long and straight and about 1mm long and round. He is very good about cleaning hinself, is not scooting, and his bowel movements look normal. Any thoughts?

  16. My cat scoots sometimes at the end of a bowel movement. Usually her feces is pretty long (she’s on a raw food diet and I add psyllium husk to it) and she can’t seem to release the feces so it gets stuck IN her butt and then she freaks out and tries to get rid of it and that’s when she scoots. One time I was in the room when she was having a bowel movement and she started to scoot so I picked her up and pulled the feces from her butt and then wiped it. What does this mean? Should I bring her to the vet?

    1. Hi Dawn,

      Here’s more info on cat scooting but we do think you should contact your vet with any specific questions:

  17. My cat was lying down and I noticed her butthole was twitching – every few seconds her butthole would suddenly tighten or something. I can’t find anything online about this – is there cause for concern?

    1. Hi there,
      Thanks for reaching out! We suggest contacting your vet ASAP. These articles might provide some insight, but we suggest reaching out to a vet for specific help and advice:

  18. Pingback: 9 Things You Never Wanted to Know About Cat Anal Glands | Funny Cute Cats

  19. I seem to have adopted I guess u could say a proximate of a 6mth old kitten. I treated earmites , and gave her worm stuff cuz she soo skinny. Treated her for fleas numerous times but they r still there. She sleeps at my feet at night. I often feel itchy. Cant get rid of them. Idk wat to do. There in her little face still. And she doesn’t eat very well and has this look in her eyes she may not b feeling well. I’m not rich and vets are expensive. And have looked into payment plan place but haven’t had any luck. She starting to go into heat and rubs up on me. And like i said sleeps by me at night. She wants to be with me all time. Even goes on car rides. Got a cool weird personality on her I just fell in love with. She has saved my life as i have struggled with personal life struggles that caused me great sadness. And she trusts me and likes me as well. I don’t know wat to do bout these flees as treatments can be very expensive. And she’s young. I think they r jumping on me and making her not feel very good. W2do? Plz help us we are 2 creatures that need least expensive solutions And that seem to need eachother. Sincerely Pipit (kitten) & Wisper

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for reaching out. Here are some articles you might find helpful about fleas and how to treat them:

      10 Ways to Fight Fleas and Ticks on Cats

      The Regional Guide to Fleas and Ticks on Cats

      What Every Cat Parent Must Know About Fleas and Ticks

      If it continues, we suggest taking your cat to a vet. Here are some articles that provide information on affordable health care:

      Need Help with Vet Bills? How to Get Help With Your Cats’ Vet Bills

      9 Ways to Find Affordable Vet Care for Your Cat

    2. Wisper: I live in San Diego, CA. Low to no cost spay and neutering is available in SD. Often you can call a local county shelter and ask for low-cost vet services. Reach out to a local adoption agency and ask if they can make a recommendation that fits your budget. Have you bathed your kitten? Are you using a flea comb (drop fleas in a bowl of soapy water-fleas can’t jump out of the water)? Both are low cost and very important for tackling fleas infestation.

    3. Flea baths, then taking the time to comb put any fleas…garlic in her food, patience, love and prayer! Hope all is well soon for yous!

    4. Wisper, no matter what age, it’s still ok to give them a nice warm bath in your basin. Fill it up with dishwashing soap ideally the one that is good for the hands of the human (aloe Vera). Rub it all over his wet hair and even face. Sing to him meanwhile to make it a nice experience and let it kill the flees.
      After five minutes, rinse very very well and u will see all dead fleas coming out.
      Nothing wrong with that. I’ve done it with stray kittens and they are safe.
      Then, dry well with towel and wrap your kitty with a warm towel you had previously warmed up in a heating pad.
      If possible do this in a warm day of if you are lucky use a hair drier.
      If he is too cold, put kitty in cage and use hair drier from outside.
      Make sure he won’t hurt inside so cushion it with a towel.
      First you must go flee hunting. Otherwise they will jump back in the kitty once he is clear.
      Bring a bowl of water with dishwashing soap (liquid) and use a flashlight to attract the fleas to the water.
      Just put the flashlight next to the bowl and voila. They will be happy to go for a deadly swim.
      Good luck!

        1. My vet suggested it (the clear aloe gel from Walgreens) for anal problems or sore spots that are not open sores. Also, a people ointment for sores that doesn’t contain zinc is ok, too.

        2. Please read up on aloe vera toxicity to cats here: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/aloe

          1. Wow. My cat ate my aloe plant completely down to the ground and killed it and it didn’t seem to hurt her. I also saw her eat all of the tops off of flowers in vases, several times. She ate a whole case of daffodils once before I noticed. She never seemed to have any problems from that, and she was mostly an inside cat, so I would have known if she was sick or throwing up. I don’t doubt that it could be bad for some cats or most cats, it just wasn’t what I experienced.

    5. get some coconut oil and rub her down and pick the flees off her . Then bath her with a genle shampoo ir soap. We did that to our cats and they have not had fleas in months. but they stay in door all the time.I wish you luck. Treatments can get expexsive

    6. There is a medication called Revolution which gets rid of fleas, ear mites, intestinal worms, heart worms, this is an awesome medication. I use it myself. You apply it to the back of their neck once a month. You can get it from your vet or from Petbucket.com .

    7. You could try dusting her with food grade diatomaceous earth, it will kill the fleas. You can also add diatomaceous earth to the kittens food to help with worms. Start small – 1/8 tsp a day and slowly work up to 1/2 tsp a day.

  20. Natalie Gardner

    When my cat stretches a tiny piece of poop comes out and stays there on her butt, I have no idea why. I have a baby and a 5 year old so I’m a little concerned about the hygiene. She’s an indoor cat and has the same diet as her sister who doesn’t have this problem.

    1. Hi Natalie,
      We suggest bringing this issue up to your vet. Best of luck and hope your kitty feels better!

  21. Hello, I recently just got a little 7 week old kitten. I’ve only seen her scoot twice, for about a few seconds each. When I looked at her bottom to see if anything was looking unusual , I noticed her bottom had litter stuck to it. I’m wondering if I should go to the vet or if it may just have been irritation from the litter.

    1. Hi there —
      Here’s a bit more about cat scooting: https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/cat-scooting-why-it-happens-and-what-to-do
      We suggest visiting your vet to see exactly what’s going on.

  22. My cat is scooting a lot. I took him to the vet to express his glands and that didn’t seem to be the problem. He got tested for parasites and came back negative. I’ve changed his diet and he’s still doing it. I don’t know what to do. I want to make sure he’s comfortable but he seems not to be. Please help!

  23. I would like to know how you can tell if your cat is constipated. What are the symptoms and what can we do about it. Thanks

    1. Hi Kevin,

      This piece might help: https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-health-tips-constipation-what-can-you-do-about-it
      Hope your kitty is feeling better!

  24. Hello I’m concern about my 4yr old female cat. She is eating in the middle of the night but in the day ewhen she is not sleeping she wants treats 2 or 3 times a day. Also I have dry and wet food side by side. Please help me to understand this csy? I love her so much but I want ” to make sure I’m ding the right thing.

    1. Hi Patti—
      These articles might help if you’re concerned that your cat isn’t eating enough. We also suggest contacting your vet for advice.

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