My Cat Is Leaking Brown Fluid From Their Anus
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If a cat is leaking brown fluid form their anus, it is most likely due to their anal glands. Although it will be coming from the anal area, it could be from these glands located just next to the anus itself. These anal glands serve very important purposes, including aiding in defecation and scent recognition. While cats are very hygienic animals, their proximity to the anus can cause issues such as impaction. This is not the only reason why a cat will be leaking brown fluid, but considering cat anal gland discharge issues is important.
At AnimalWised, we look at all the reasons why my cat is leaking brown fluid from their anus. We also discover what happens when other fluid such as clear liquid, yellow liquid or even red liquid is leaking from their anal area.
- Types of fluid is leaking from my cat's anus
- What are cat anal glands?
- My cat is leaking brown fluid from their anus
- My cat is leaking clear fluid from their anus
- Impacted anal glands in cats
- Anal gland infection in cats
- Abscess in a cat's anal gland
- How to express a cat's anal gland
- Is the liquid from the anus?
- Male or female cat leaking brown or clear fluid from their anus
Types of fluid is leaking from my cat's anus
While we need to be vigilant when looking after our cat's health, it is important to recognize symptoms of a pathology and something which might be relatively common. This is why we need to look at the different kinds of liquid which might be coming out of your cat's butt. Here are some of the possible colors as well as their likely source:
- Brown liquid: if your cat has brown liquid from their rectum, it is likely due to diarrhea. The causes of diarrhea are various, but most often have to do with diet. As it is the symptom of many other conditions, it is important you take them to the vet if it lasts for longer than 24 to 48 hours. It can also be due to anal gland disease, something we look at further below.
- Yellow liquid: yellow liquid could also be part of diarrhea, but it could also be a sign the cat has eaten something which has changed this color. If it is clear with a yellowish tint. However, it may be from the anal glands rather than the anus itself. This color can be
- Clear liquid: if you see a clear, odorless liquid leaking from your cat's anus, then it is likely due to their anal glands. If your cat is a little under the weather then it is possible they will have a little bit of clear mucus coming from their anus. However, this might also be the symptom of something more problematic such as parasites, bacterial overgrowth, colitis or even tumors, so you will need to go to a vet.
- Red liquid: if you see blood coming from your cat's anus, then you should know there are two main types. If it is bright red, then it is fresh blood and is likely coming from the anus itself. In this case, the cat's anus is likely to be red and inflamed. If it is dark red or brown, then it has been digested and means there is something wrong further up the gastrointestinal tract.
It is always better to be safe than sorry, so if you see a problem, you should take your cat to the vet for assessment. If they believe it is a symptom of something more serious such as intestinal parasites in cats, then they will be able to run the appropriate tests.
What are cat anal glands?
The anal glands or anal sacs of a cat are found on both sides of the anus. They are located at the five and seven hands as if they were on a clock face. Different secretions from different glands have various purposes. Although there may be factors we do not yet know about, anal gland secretions in cats have the following main functions:
- Lubrication: the oily substance from the anal glands can also help with the passage of feces. It can coat the stool, making it easier for the feces to move through the cat's rectum and be eliminated. This can be especially helpful if a cat's stool is dry or hard.
- Scent marking: cats use their anal glands to mark their territory. When they defecate, a small amount of the gland's secretion is released onto their feces. This scent serves as a territorial marker for other cats, indicating that this territory is already claimed. It's a way for cats to communicate with each other, especially in multi-cat households or in outdoor environments with many feline competitors.
- Social interaction: similar to scent marking, cats can also use their anal glands in social interactions. When they greet each other or even their owners, they might rub their anal area against the person or other cat. This can transfer some of the gland's scent, serving as a form of bonding and communication. They have similar glands on other parts of their body since a cat headbutting you has a similar purpose.
They can be found if you press around the anus area, but they are not usually very visible. They are even more difficult to see in longhaired cat breeds. As they contain a unique smell, it is not uncommon to see other cats smell this area as a means of greeting.
Although anal secretions occur while defecating, there are other circumstances which can cause the anal sphincter to contract and empty the anal sacs. One example is fear. A common fearful experience is when visiting a veterinary clinic. When this occurs you might see a clear liquid emanating from your cat's anus.
My cat is leaking brown fluid from their anus
If you notice brown fluid leaking from your cat's anus, it can be attributed to a few potential causes. Here's an explanation of the most common reasons for this issue, which may involve either the anal glands or the anus itself:
Anal gland issues
- Impacted anal glands: cats have anal glands on either side of their anus that can become impacted if the secretion thickens and doesn't empty properly. When these glands become blocked or impacted, they can cause discomfort and sometimes leak foul-smelling brown fluid.
- Infection: infections in the anal glands can lead to the production of discolored and malodorous fluid. These infections may result from bacteria entering the glands or chronic impaction.
- Diarrhea: frequent bouts of diarrhea can lead to the leakage of watery, brown fluid from the anus. In this case, the issue isn't with the anal glands but rather with the consistency of the cat's stool.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): cats with IBD may have chronic inflammation in their gastrointestinal tract, leading to changes in stool consistency and the potential for anal leakage. Learn more with our guide to inflammatory bowel disease in cats.
- Rectal or anal tumors: in rare cases, tumors in the rectal or anal area can cause fluid discharge, including brown or bloody discharge.
- Systemic infections: various infections in the digestive or reproductive systems could lead to unusual discharges. These can be bacterial, fungal or viral, all of which can cause issues such as vomiting and diarrhea in cats.
My cat is leaking clear fluid from their anus
Clear, odorless fluid leaking from a cat's anus or anal sacs can indicate a different set of reasons compared to brown or foul-smelling discharge. Here are some potential causes for clear fluid leakage:
- Emotional or physical stress: cats may express their stress or anxiety by secreting clear fluid from their anal sacs. This is often linked to a ‘fight or flight’ response.
- Oversecretion of anal glands: in some cases, the anal glands may produce more fluid than usual, leading to clear leakage. Oversecretion can be triggered by excitement, fear or other emotional states.
- Allergies or food sensitivities: allergies or food sensitivities can result in an increase in anal gland secretions, sometimes appearing as clear fluid.
- Medications: certain medications or changes in a cat's medication regimen can affect anal gland secretions. Clear fluid leakage can be a side effect in some cases.
- Infection: certain infections in the digestive or rectal tract can lead to clear or mucous-like discharge. Infections may be due to parasites, bacteria, or other pathogens.
- Anal injuries: trauma or injury to the anus can result in mucus leakage. This could occur from straining during defecation or accidents.
- Normal Secretion: sometimes, clear fluid secretion from the anal sacs is a normal part of a cat's grooming or territory-marking behavior. Cats have scent glands in their anal sacs that release pheromones as a way of marking their territory.
- Underlying Health Issues: although clear fluid is usually less concerning than foul-smelling or discolored discharges, it can sometimes indicate an underlying health problem. It's essential to monitor your cat for any additional symptoms or changes in behavior.
If your cat is experiencing clear fluid leakage and you're concerned about their health or behavior, it's advisable to consult a veterinarian. A veterinarian can conduct a thorough examination to rule out any underlying health issues and provide guidance on managing your cat's specific situation.
Impacted anal glands in cats
Impaction means that the duct of the anal gland is blocked and stops it from being released. This causes the gland to fill with fluid and become swollen. It is usually not painful unless it is accompanied by an infection. It will be uncomfortable and enlarge. If your cat has concurrent dark and thick brown fluid coming from the anus, the cat may be suffering from impaction.
The fluid in the gland accumulates because it is unable to empty the glands properly or at all. It might happen because the cat's stools are too soft or small to put pressure on the glands. It could also be due to a foreign object or infection blocking the gland. The main way to treat this problem is to manually express the gland (see below). Expression of the gland may need to continue for a short time until the underlying problem is resolved.
However, this is not the only way to treat anal gland blockages. Lifestyle changes should be made, especially those involved with diet. You may need to add some more fiber to their food to give them the proper nutrition. All of this should be discussed with your vet.
Anal gland infection in cats
As we stated above, impaction is not the only reason a cat's anal glands might not function properly. Also known as saculitis, an anal gland infection in cats produces a painful inflammation in one or both of the cat's anal glands. You should suspect an anal gland infection if your cat has clear or yellowish liquid, purulent fluid (pus) or even blood coming from the area. The vet will be able to diagnose the problem and will likely prescribe antibiotics for treatment.
Abscess in a cat's anal gland
An infection may only be the beginning of the problem if our cat has problems with their anal glands. If our cat has liquid coming from their anus as described in the previous sections, we should take a look at the gland itself. When the gland becomes red and enlarged, we can suspect an abscess has formed. In these cases, emptying alone will not solve the problem. An anal gland abscess might grow so much that it breaks the skin and becomes a perianal fistula, something which can be very uncomfortable and painful for the cat.
The veterinarian will clean the area and prescribe antibiotics to the cat, but it is also possible surgery might be required. It is possible that an anal abscess in cats may be cancerous, since malignant tumors known as adenocarcinoma can develop in glandular structures such as anal glands. However, it is very important to know that adenocarcinomas account for only 0.5% of all feline neoplasms, so it is statistically unlikely.
How to express a cat's anal gland
If you see that your cat is licking their anal area a lot and is unable to release their anal secretions properly, you may need to express the gland yourself. However, even though you may need to manually express the glands yourself, it is best to go to the vet for the first time so they can both show you how to do it properly and ensure your cat is exposed to the best practice first. This will help make it easier for you to manually express your cat's anal glands.
Ideally, you should have someone help restrain the cat while expressing their anal gland. This is because it can be quite an uncomfortable and even painful procedure. Once you have someone restraining the cat, you need to lift up the tail and locate the glands. It is best to use rubber or latex gloves for this procedure. With the thumb and forefinger, take hold of the individual gland and squeeze it in the direction of the anus, where the fluid normally comes out. You may want to put newspaper down as the odor of the secretion can be quite foul. The anal gland secretion should be brown in color, so if this is not the case, you will need to speak to your vet.
Is the liquid from the anus?
If you see your cat us leaking fluid from its anal area, it is likely for one of the above reasons. However, you need to be very careful you have correctly located the source. In the case of females, we need to be sure the secretion is coming from the anus and not the vulva. If there is a discharge which is pink, bloody or contains pus, then it could be a reproductive issue. If the cat has not been spayed, it is possible they are pregnant. However, such a discharge might also be a sign of a uterine infection or pyometra. In any case, you will need to seek immediate veterinary assistance to determine the problem and find a course of treatment.
Male or female cat leaking brown or clear fluid from their anus
The likelihood of a cat experiencing anal fluid leakage is not generally dependent on whether the cat is male or female. Both male and female cats have anal sacs or glands. Issues with these anal sacs, such as impaction or infection, can affect cats of either sex.
However, there are some conditions or behaviors that may be more commonly associated with male or female cats, which could indirectly influence the chances of anal fluid leakage:
Male cats leaking anal fluid
- Urinary issues: male cats are more prone to urinary tract issues, including urinary blockages. These In cases of severe urinary blockage, a cat may strain, which could potentially lead to temporary anal fluid leakage. Our article on feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) can provide more insight.
Female cats leaking anal fluid
- Pregnancy and birthing: female cats can experience clear or mucous-like discharge from the vaginal area when they are in heat, pregnant, or during the birthing process. This is different from anal fluid leakage but may sometimes be confused.
Regardless if you have a female or male cat, liquid leaking from their anus or anal glands will be a problem. Speak to your veterinarian and determine treatment.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to My Cat Is Leaking Brown Fluid From Their Anus, we recommend you visit our Infectious diseases category.
1. Shoieb, A. M., & Hanshaw, D. M. (2009). Anal sac gland carcinoma in 64 cats in the United kingdom (1995-2007). Veterinary pathology, 46(4), 677–683.