I took my cat to the vet for a routine exam today, and she had her anal glands expressed for the first time. It's about 10 hours later and she is still in a good deal of pain. Her anus is red, swollen, and will not close -- as if the sphincter muscles don't work. Consequently, she is leaking feces. She is scooting and limping and meowing in pain. She cries out if I try to put a warm wet cloth on her to clean up. None of this ever happened before. The only reason for checking anal glands was an somewhat regular odor (which may be gas) and rare spray of anal gland oil when startled.
Is this a normal response for my cat? I never would have subjected her to this procedure if I knew how awful the recovery would be. I also don't know if my vet knew what she was doing, and am not sure I trust her, since this was my first visit with her. How should I proceed? Wait and see? Call a different vet? Call my vet? Do I have the glands expressed in the future if urged by my vet?
You posted in the Geriatric forum but we can answer here.
I think this is unusual. Assuming the cat was normal before, this is a more severe reaction to a normal anal gland expression than we would expect.
If the cat had infected anal glands, or another peri-anal medical problem, then the expression may have caused the area to be much more painful.
For now use warm compresses to help her feel better. I think this can wait until Monday.
I would get her back to see this veterinarian and explain the situation. I am sure they want to examine more closely. It is likely there is something else going on as a simple expression of the glands should not cause this much pain and tissue reaction.
Thanks so much for the advice. I was so worried; I'd never seen her so miserable! She's doing much better today, eating like normal, and is almost acting like herself, so you were right that it could wait. I think I may be able to resolve this with a call to the vet (they're closed today) instead of a visit... just so they can make note of her extreme reaction. If she ever needs that done again, I think I'll request an external expression of the glands vs. internal... I'm assuming the procedure irritated nerves or something, but we'll see what they say when I call tomorrow.
Thanks again for the advice. It's a blessing to be able to reach someone when I'm worried sick and can't find an answer with my own research and don't know where to turn.
I am glad to hear that your kitty is doing better and that Dr. Humphries was able to help.
I always use the "internal" method for expressing anal glands in cats. Many have very thick secretion that I would not be able to express without doing it that way. I do have small fingers, which helps. I may be in the minority here because many of my clients say that their cat hasn't had that done before. I think anal sac filling is a problem that is overlooked often in cats and can cause discomfort and constipation.
I usually warn my clients that the cat may be just as uncomfortable or more so after the anal sac expression for a day or two. If the cat seems very uncomfortable when I express the glands, I will give an anti-inflammatory injection. You might ask your veterinarian about that the next time your cat needs the procedure done.
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