Why does my cat drag her dirty butt across the floor?

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have a 4-month-old kitten who has recently started to drag her butt across the floor after she uses the litterbox. It doesn’t happen every time, but it’s not a pleasant thing to have poop streaks all over the carpet! I did web searches on this situation and found out that it could be due to worms or gland problems, but my kitten just had a vet checkup a month ago and there was nothing wrong with her.

What might be the cause of this? Could it be she feels cleaner wiping her dirty butt on the carpet or that she somehow likes the feeling of it?

~Shermayne

Siouxsie: Well, Shermayne, we have a lot of compassion for you. Butt-wiping on the floor is very unpleasant, not just for you but for us too! But we think we may have a couple of ideas for you.

Thomas: As you saw in your searches, when a cat wipes its butt on the floor it can be a sign of worms (they itch!) or anal gland problems. But there are a couple of other issues that can cause a cat to use your carpet as toilet paper.

Dahlia: If your cat has long hair, she may be getting poop on the hair around her butt, which she may choose to wipe off on your carpet.

Siouxsie: This is especially true if she has diarrhea. Even short-haired cats that have diarrhea can get poop on their behind.

Thomas: I’m afraid I’m one of those cats that’s prone to diarrhea. I have a very sensitive stomach, and if the food I eat irritates me even a little bit, well, the results can be pretty embarrassing.

Dahlia: It’s OK, Thomas. You know we all love you and Mama’s never going to lose patience with you. In fact, she’s trying really hard to find foods that your tummy will tolerate.

Siouxsie: So, Shermayne, the first step is to see if your kitten is having diarrhea. You should be able to see this pretty clearly from her litterbox leavings.

Thomas: If she is having the runs, does this happen after she eats a certain kind of food? If, for example, she’s fine when you feed her chicken-flavored cat food but she gets the runs after she eats tuna-flavored food, try eliminating the problem food from her diet.

Dahlia: Cats can also get diarrhea from taking antibiotics for infections. Because good digestion involves bacteria that live in the intestines, the antibiotics that kill the germs can also kill those “good bacteria.”

Siouxsie: A good way to help a cat with the runs is to give them a teaspoon of plain, non-fat yogurt. That’ll help replenish those good bacteria and get her tummy back on track.

Thomas: If your kitten has long hair, try keeping the fur around her bottom trimmed short. Be very careful if you do this yourself because you don’t want to poke her! If you don’t feel comfortable trimming her fur, ask a groomer to do it for you.

Dahlia: Make sure to keep your litterbox very clean. If she’s stepping in old poop or it’s getting on her bottom when she goes to do her business, she’s going to want to get it off somehow! We recommend scooping poop and pee clumps (if you use clumping litter) at least twice a day.

Siouxsie: If possible, you may want to keep your litterbox away from carpeted areas. If you do move her box, though, do so gradually so she’ll be able to find it and won’t have a bad reaction to having her toilet suddenly moved.

Thomas: If you can’t put your litterbox anywhere else, consider getting some plastic carpet runners and putting them under the litterbox. We’d recommend getting a carpet runner a couple of feet wider and longer than the box.

Dahlia: An extra bonus of using plastic carpet runners is that it’ll be a lot easier for you to clean up any litter that scatters out of the box.

Siouxsie: And keep in mind, Shermayne, that it’s still possible your baby could have worms. Many kittens do have roundworms (they get them from their mothers) and unless you adopted her from a shelter, the odds are good that your kitten wasn’t dewormed before you got her.

Thomas: Did your vet test a fecal sample the last time you were there? If not, you might want to have that done. If your kitten does have worms, your vet will give her a medication that will eliminate them very quickly.

Dahlia: Finally, you might want some tips on how to get those nasty stains out of your carpets!

Siouxsie: We recommend that you buy an enzyme cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle or Anti-Icky-Poo, which will completely remove the stains and odors if used as directed.

Thomas: Ordinary carpet cleaners aren’t as effective as products designed specifically for removing pet stains and odors, and sometimes they can even set in the stains rather than getting rid of them!

Dahlia: We hope these tips will help you help your kitten stop making messes on your rug. Please let us know how things turn out!

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