Cat hemorrhoids are a very tricky subject, as many people who own cats eventually find out. Cat hemorrhoids are an extremely rare occurence. In fact, there's strong reason to suspect that cats and hemorrhoids don't occur together, given basic physics and the size of a cats intestinal system. In otherwords, for the most part, cat hemorrhoids appear to be a lie, scam or hoax, or at best an error or misdiagnosis. Even this website - hemorrhoidshemroids.com - hired a writer to research cat hemorrhoids, was informed that cat hemorrhoids were a genuine disease of cats, and manufacturers were saying their hemorrhoid products could treat cat hemorrhoids etc. Whats more, this is what every web site was saying, many still do, that cat hemorrhoids exist and can be treated at home using such and such a product ... However, after being in contact with two vets recently, we are now correcting this misconception.
As humans we ascribe animals as having the same feelings and so on as our own. So when cats start showing physical symptoms of hemorrhoids, humans jump to the conclusion that is obviously cat hemorrhoids.
However, cats can and do present with some very cat hemorrhoids-like symptoms from time to time. So, how do we reconcile the notion that cats don't usually get hemorrhoids with the fact that they will often present with every single hemorrhoid symptom we're familiar with? When you see your cat licking, biting, and scooting the anal area across the floor, the itching and pain associated with hemorrhoids is often the first thing to come to mind. If you suspect cat hemorrhoids, the best thing to do is to take your cat to the veterinarian, considering that those symptoms are always serious.
The large intestine of a cat is still a pretty small tube. Of course, there are blood vessels in the feline large intestine, and those blood vessels can be placed under a lot of strain. So, in theory, one of those blood vessels could develop a weak point that ballooned outwards into a cat hemorrhoid. However, because the pressure is so high and the blood vessel is so small, a more frequent outcome is that the blood vessel just bursts instead of creating a hemorrhoid. If the blood vessels develops a hemorrhoid, the anal canal is so small that the hemorrhoid immediately turns into an anal prolapse. Human large intestines are big enough to have some room to spare, but if a cat's large intestine becomes inflamed then the inflammation is just going to take the whole anal canal with it.
Your cat's veterinarian will usually tell you to bring your suspected cat hemorrhoids case in immediately for treatment because feline anal prolapse is an emergency. If you can see tissue protruding beyond your cat's normal anal opening, then that tissue can easily become dried out and start to die. In the event that you see something protruding that looks like a cat hemorrhoid, please treat it like the emergency it is and call your vet immediately.
There are a few cat hemorrhoids lookalikes that are not terribly serious health conditions. These cat hemorrhoids lookalikes will still need veterinary intervention in order to cure, but they're not emergencies that require your vet's attention at midnight or on a Saturday afternoon. Getting your pet in the very first business day will do fine to fix these cat hemorrhoids lookalikes.
The most common reason for a cat to start itching and hurting around the anal area as though they have cat hemorrhoids is intestinal worms and parasites. Hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms can all cause problems either due to eggs or larval worms coming out to infect other cats elsewhere. These parasites often hit outdoor cats the worst, due to the fact that outdoor cats have much more opportunity to pick up parasite eggs or larvae. However, under appropriate circumstances, even indoor cats can get infected, particularly those who live in multi-animal homes. If your dog goes outside and picks up eggs on the feet to track them in, an indoor cat can easily get infected and show up with cat hemorrhoids type symptoms.
Parasite prevention is an important part of animal care, and as such should already be a part of your pet's regular regimen. If your parasite prevention program hasn't worked and your cat has picked up intestinal parasites, you should keep your cat confined to a carrier or small room until it's time to go to the vet. A few cat parasites can jump to humans, while others could jump to any other pets you have in the house. It's much easier to clean and sterilize your home from parasite eggs and larvae if you keep your cat contained in a small, very washable area.
One of the biggest symptoms of parasite infection is debris around your cat's hindquarters. If it looks like your cat sat down in your rice bowl, then it's a fair bet that you're dealing with an infestation of worms.
Another problem that can come up fairly frequently is that the anal glands can become blocked, infected, or injured. These anal glands sit right near the anal sphincter, and they usually fully express every time the cat defecates. The point of these anal glands is to scent mark the cat's droppings so that other cats and animals gain information about the cat in question. While the product of these anal glands usually smells absolutely foul to humans, to other cats it gives just about every piece of information a cat can have including age, gender, size, and general health. If they get infected or blocked, though, they itch and hurt like crazy. Your cat will usually scoot across the floor and lick or bite at the anal area as with any other problem in that area.
Another reason that cats can start acting like their hind end is hurting is constipation. Now, cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they evolved to eat meat and meat alone. In fact, cat kidneys are so good at their jobs that they don't have to drink water if they feed on live animals. They can survive on fresh meat alone. However, cats also wash themselves incessantly. All of that fur can cause some serious constipation, especially if the cat also eats dry kibble. Constipation often won't cause cat hemorrhoids, but it can cause a lot of pain and itching to your poor cat.
Those cat hemorrhoids lookalikes above are pretty tame, quite curable even though they can cause your cat serious pain and itching. However, cats can also suffer from a variety of more serious cat hemorrhoids lookalikes that you should be aware of. If you ever see anything protruding from your cat's hind end, then the situation is truly dire and you need to get your cat to the vet on an emergency basis.
The most serious cat hemorrhoids lookalike is rectal prolapse. Basically, the rectal canal that leads from the intestinal system to the exterior of the body is held in place by a sort of a net of connective tissue. If this net weakens for some reason, then the last bit of the rectal canal can be pushed out of the body. This basically looks like a pink sock that's turned inside out peeking out of the anal sphincter, which is obviously one of the ways it often gets mistaken for cat hemorrhoids.
Other serious cat hemorrhoids lookalikes are rectal polyps, tumors, and hernias. Rectal polyps are basically fleshy growths that start up from the interior lining of the colorectal canal, and they can definitely be mistaken by a pet owner as cat hemorrhoids. The difference between rectal polyps and cat hemorrhoids, though, is basically one of structure. Cat hemorrhoids would be a ballooning out of a weak point in the vein. Rectal polyps have nothing to do with weak points in the vein. Rather, they are products of a spot on the colorectal canal that has started to grow rapidly, and they must be surgically removed before they become tumors. Hernias are protrusions of other tissues into spaces where they don't belong. All of these can look like cat hemorrhoids and all of them require immediate veterinary intervention.
If you notice that your cat has blood blisters around the anal area or you see blood in your cat's stool, then you've got a serious problem and you should take your cat in to the vet as soon as possible. This is as close to cat hemorrhoids as most cats ever get, but it's a serious mistake to think that they're as tame as human hemorrhoids. Huge differences exist between human medicine and feline medicine. There are a lot of potential causes for bleeding from your cat's rear end, none of them particularly good.
Cats may not get cat hemorrhoids very often, but they can quite clearly get a lot of health problems that look just like they have cat hemorrhoids. Even though some of them are not deadly, all of them require a veterinarian's intervention. If your cat is scooting around on his or her rear, biting at the area, or has protrusions from the rear end, then please get your cat to the vet's as soon as you possibly can.
Hill's Atlas of Veterinary Clinical Anatomy, Veterinary Medicine Publishing (2004)
+ interviews with two vets.
Research and main write by Loni L. Ice, quality control, editing and additional writing by D. S. Urquhart.