Anal prolapse is the protrusion of the red mucous tissue lining of the rectum, occurring briefly after a cat has a bowel movement, and usually self-correcting after a few minutes. Though there is no known specific cause for anal prolapse in cats, veterinarians check for treatable conditions causing anal irritation and discomfort. With proper diagnosis and treatment, anal prolapse can be controlled or eliminated.
Ailments Associated with Anal Prolapse
Tape worms and other intestinal parasites, which irritate the area around the anus, are the most common causes for anal itching and pain. Parasites are indicated by pieces of rice-like debris around a cat's backside. Fleas, anal sac irritation, allergies, constipation and an inability to groom are common causes of anal discomfort in cats. Treating the identified condition usually resolves problems causing anal prolapse.
Anal prolapse can be mistaken for rectal prolapse, a more serious condition requiring surgery. Anal prolapse is a protrusion of the outer layer of the anus, while rectal prolapse is the protrusion of the inner rectal tissue. Rectal prolapse requires immediate veterinary attention, as it's a life-threatening condition if left untreated.
An over-the-counter topical hydrocortisone ointment is usually the treatment of choice for cats diagnosed with anal prolapse. Hydrocortisone reduces the itching, swelling and redness in the anal area. Gently clean the area before applying the medication with a cotton swab.
Simple precautions can help reduce the possibility of anal prolapse recurrence. Additional dietary fiber and regular grooming can help reduce constipation. Cats spending extended amounts of time outdoors have a greater chance of contracting parasites. Look for symptoms indicating parasites and talk to your vet about parasite prevention during your cat's regular veterinary exams.
Rectal polyps, hernias, anal gland infections and tumors are often mistaken for anal prolapse and sometimes require surgery. Blood in a cat's stool can indicate a more serious problem and should always be discussed with your vet. If your cat displays symptoms of anal prolapse, or other similar conditions, contact your veterinarian.