Perianal Fistula in Cats - Treatment and Care

By Graham Harper, Journalist specialized in animal welfare. Updated: November 9, 2017
Perianal Fistula in Cats - Treatment and Care

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Perianal fistulas (or Anal Furunculosis) is a condition that occurs in cats and dogs, where their immune system attacks the tissue surrounding the anus.

Their immune system destroys the tissue and creates painful, ulcerated wounds. These wounds can form sinuses that tunnel deep into the tissue and even connect to the rectum.

Although not as frequent as in dogs, perianal fistulas in cats are equally as unpleasant and painful, and require special treatment and care that we will review in this AnimalWised article.

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Causes of perianal fistulas in cats

In dogs, especially in some breeds such as the German shepherd, the immune system is often more involved than in cats. In cats, where these fistulae are quite rare, the problem is usually in the glands or anal sacs. These glands are located on both sides of the anus and release a substance that, besides functioning as a lubricant which helps the exit of feces, has a characteristic smell that serves to recognize each other.

Neither dogs nor cats are able to voluntarily empty these glands, which on the other hand, lack autonomous emptying, since this is produced by the pressure exerted by the feces upon exiting. Therefore, in some animals in which the output of feces is not as regular as it should be, i.e. in cases of constipation or diarrhea, the expressing of the glands is not performed effectively, and may cause a cluster of liquid in its interior capable of causing a fistula or infection of the anal glands.

Obstructions in the drainage duct of these sacks are also capable of causing this problem, at least in theory. In addition, the anal sacs may suffer an infection, which can lead to a fistula or an abscess, which in turn can also fistulize.

Symptoms of perianal fistulas in cats

Cats that suffer from this problem are frequently licking the area around ​​the anus, this being the most indicative symptom. On the other hand, and although paradoxical, anal fistulas in cats are sometimes accompanied by constipation, and in others diarrhea. So both conditions can be alert factors to go to the veterinarian.

In any case, a fairly constant symptom is the difficulty to defecate due to the pain that the animal feels. Likewise, small traces of blood may be found in the feces of the cat, so it will be essential to check their stools if you have noticed the previous symptoms.

Treatment and care for a cat with perianal fistula

As with most health problems, treatment should always be focused on the reason that causes it. In this way, visiting the veterinarian to check the anal fistulas of the cat and determine the underlying reason, will be mandatory to set the correct steps to follow.

If the immune system is responsible...

The use of drugs such as cyclosporine, tacrolimus or corticosteroids is often successful, with very good efficacy but with long-term side effects that need to be considered. These drugs are administered orally and their effectiveness increases if they are supplemented by applying an ointment in the affected area that also includes them in their composition. However, since they reduce the defenses, mainly the corticosteroids, and this is something quite undesirable in an area as populated with bacteria as the anus and its vicinity, it is advisable to use an ointment that also includes antibiotics.

A great option are the compounds that are marketed for the treatment of otitis in dogs and cats, since most incorporate corticosteroids and antibiotics and many have a cream-like texture, making them very easy to apply.

Pathologies of anal sacs

In cats, as we have mentioned before, problems of the immune system are not so common, so the pathologies of anal sacs are more frequent. For this reason, the oral drugs we mentioned are usually not necessary or effective for these cases, except for antibiotics. Although, the application of an ointment with corticosteroids usually gives good results, since it serves to control inflammation. As in the previous case, it is recommended that this ointment also contains antibiotics.

In cases of pathologies of the anal sacs that do not improve with the treatment or if they appear again once the treatment ends, a surgical extirpation of the glands may be necessary.

Emptying of anal glands and maintenance

Whether or not the anal glands are involved, it is not enough to empty them. These glands are found on both sides of the animal's anus, approximately in the area that would correspond to 4 and 8 hours in a clock.

Although the origin of the problem is not in the anal glands, in a cat that has suffered a fistula in this area, it is convenient to periodically control the area and empty the anal glands regularly.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that, whatever the cause of the fistula, it is advisable to clean the area with an antiseptic, such as chlorhexidine or betadine diluted in water in proportion of 1 to 3. In addition, antibiotics should always be given to treat infection of the cat's anal glands, if any, or to prevent it. Metronidazole is an antibiotic that has proven to be very effective in these cases.

Perianal Fistula in Cats - Treatment and Care - Treatment and care for a cat with perianal fistula

We hope we informed you today. If you have any questions at all, please leave them in the comments section.

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 Perianal Fistula in Cats - Treatment and Care, we recommend you visit our Infectious diseases category.

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