Cats don’t have hemorrhoids like us, but they experience rectal prolapse, anal gland infections, anal sac issues, and similar conditions loosely called hemorrhoids. If your cat cannot vocalize its pain or discomfort, its actions and behaviors will show you something is wrong.
Read on to learn more about cat hemorrhoids and how to help them when needed.
Symptoms of Hemorrhoids in Cats
Discomfort and Itching
Cats with hemorrhoids will often act very uncomfortable and avoid moving around much. They may lick their butt and continue to strain to poop, pee, or give birth, depending on the cause of the hemorrhoids. You may also notice your cat scooting its butt across the floor to itch the area.
Noticing the color of the exposed rectum is important. An inflamed rectum will be pink but quickly turn dark red as swelling progresses.
The rectum may turn very black if not treated quickly. Darker colors are usually a sign of tissue death—a serious condition that may result in long-term complications. The wall of the rectum may also break and swell.
Anal Sacs Conditions
Anal sacs are two small scent glands located near the anal opening. When a cat passes a stool, pressure on anal sacs releases a fluid that helps a cat mark its territory. Unfortunately, these sacs can sometimes become blocked and cause fluid to build up, leading to inflammation and infection. Besides basic symptoms of scooting and excessive grooming, you’ll notice swelling or redness in the rectum and blood or pus in the stool. Also, your cat may experience a fever if an abscess develops.
There are two types of rectal or anal prolapse:
Incomplete: You’ll notice symptoms such as protruding rectal tissue when your cat is straining to pee or poop. The protruding rectal tissue will return to its normal position and no longer be visible after straining. Incomplete rectal prolapse is a serious condition requiring treatment before it progresses into complete prolapse.
Complete: In this condition, all layers of the rectum protrude through the anal opening. It looks like a tube, with the inner layers and rectum lining visible outside. A complete rectal prolapse requires urgent veterinary attention.
A veterinarian visit is necessary if your cat experiences either type of prolapse.
How Vets Diagnose Hemorrhoids in Cats
Physical examination helps vets diagnose hemorrhoids in cats. They can sometimes look like rectal prolapses. The prolapse is often complete when a veterinarian checks most cases, so the internal rectal tissue is constantly exposed rather than only being visible when a cat poops. A prolapsed rectum looks like a long, tubular mass protruding from the anus.
If you notice any tissue protruding from the anus, you should take your cat to the vet immediately.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Hemorrhoids and Similar Conditions in Cats
Your veterinarian will perform a visual exam and examine your cat’s rectal region to identify the problem. Anal gland infections often require antibiotic treatment. If your cat is experiencing a rectal prolapse, your vet will sedate your cat and manually put the tissue back in place. Sometimes, the vet may recommend a few stitches to keep the rectal tissue from coming out again.
Treating Simple Rectal Prolapse
The vet will anesthetize your cat during the procedure. Reducing a prolapsed rectum is painful, and a prolapsed cat will already be in distress and pain.
After your cat sleeps, the vet will carefully clean the rectal tissue. Your vet will use medications or hypertonic saline solution to help decrease swelling and perform a thorough rectal exam to rule out a rectal abnormality.
If the rectal tissue is healthy, your vet will manually reduce the prolapse after flushing the rectum with sterile saline. Once clean, the vet will gently replace the rectum inside the pelvic cavity.
Once the cat’s prolapse is reduced, your vet will use a technique known as a purse-string suture to make the anal opening smaller so the rectum doesn’t prolapse again while your cat heals.
Rectal Prolapse Surgery
If the rectum is prolapsed long enough for the tissue to become black and die, the vet must surgically remove the dying portion. Then, healthy rectal tissue is surgically reattached to the existing tissue.
Excessive rectal tissue removal can sometimes result in an inability to control bowel movements or other elimination issues. These problems may be temporary or long-term.
The vet might perform a colopexy procedure if a cat has a long history of repeat rectal prolapses. In this surgery, the rectum is attached to the abdominal wall using an internal stitch. Colopexy is an extensive surgery that can help prevent future prolapse events.
Management of Rectal Prolapse in Cats
Contact your vet if your cat has diarrhea during the recovery period. Your cat will most likely need additional treatment. Diarrhea increases the risk of rectal complications.
After surgery, most cats take pain medication, stool softeners, and antibiotics. Their medications depend on their health at the time of surgery. Some cats need an epidural to eliminate straining while pooping as pain control.
A cat who receives an epidural may require hospitalization for 1-3 days, depending on how they are doing. Cats receiving a purse-string suture are free to go home the day of the procedure.
In other words, the more serious the repair, the longer the rest period will be.
Recurrence of Prolapse
If your cat experiences another rectal prolapse, it will look very similar to the first one. Infected rectal tissue will be red and swollen, and you may notice discharge around your cat’s anus.
Your cat might be unable to control pooping if part of the rectum was surgically removed. Connect with your vet if any complications arise.
Other Medical Issues
Cats with hemorrhoids may also suffer from other medical issues, including digestive disorders, constipation, intestinal inflammation, or kidney and bladder conditions. Some types of polyps can also create similar symptoms. Your vet may recommend blood tests, urine sample analysis, or X-rays to pinpoint the exact problem.
Your vet will recommend a fibrous, soft diet for your cat and a stool softener to make defecation easier. Your vet may prescribe oral anti-inflammatory medication or a topical cream to help reduce pain, swelling, and itching. If your cat experiences ongoing anal conditions, it may be helpful to talk to your vet about surgical options to prevent future problems.
You will also have to treat the underlying cause of the hemorrhoids.
Treating the Underlying Cause
The vet must also treat the underlying cause to avoid a relapse.
This treatment will strictly depend on the underlying cause. If the hemorrhoids are due to birthing kittens, you must spay your cat so it won’t happen again.
Intestinal parasites are treated by deworming, while a urinary stone will need special treatment, and so on.