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Home > Cats > How to Clean Your Cat’s Butt in 3 Easy Steps

How to Clean Your Cat’s Butt in 3 Easy Steps

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are natural groomers and keep themselves clean. However, when cats are sick or injured, they will skip steps in their grooming process, which sometimes leaves them with a dirty butt. Senior cats that have mobility issues may also start neglecting their personal hygiene. Whatever the reason, it’s your responsibility as a cat parent to keep your cat’s butt clean. Luckily, it’s a fairly easy process!


The 3 Steps for Cleaning Your Cat’s Butt

1. Know why your cat’s butt needs cleaning

Leaving your cat with a dirty butt isn’t just unhygienic; it can be outright dangerous for both you and your cat. Illnesses like toxoplasmosis are transferred through feces. While most cats that get the infection have no symptoms, it can cause fevers, lethargy, and a loss of appetite.

Having dried feces build up on your cat’s butt can cause itching, irritation, and infection. It’s also a popular place for gastro-intestinal parasites to hide. These can make both you and your cat very sick! Having a dirty bottom can also attract flies resulting in fly strike.

Seal-point neva masquerade in black background
Image Credit: Julia Shepeleva, Shutterstock

2. Clean your cat’s butt

You have some options for materials to clean your cat’s butt:
  • A damp washcloth
  • Cleansing cat wipes
  • Wet cotton wool pads.
  • Cat shampoo

We recommend using wipes made for cleaning and deodorizing anal glands, as these will remove any dried fecal matter as well as odor.

Wash your hands thoroughly, or wear disposable gloves while cleaning to avoid transferring bacteria to other surfaces.

If your cat has significant amounts of dried feces on their butt, you may need to soak a cloth with soap and water and remove the excess, then clean your cat’s fur with the wipes or cotton wool pads.

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3. Dirty cat butt prevention

Things that you can do to prevent your cat from getting a dirty butt:
  • Encourage grooming by praising your cat when they clean themselves. With any luck, they will enjoy the extra attention and start grooming themselves more often.
  • Keep your cat’s litter box clean. The less feces there is in the litter box, the less will be available for your cat to scoot their butt through.
  • Treat diarrhea promptly by visiting your vet.
  • Treat underlying problems such as mobility issues
  • Give them a “sanitary trim” to keep long hair getting matted with feces.
cat leaving litter box
Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock


Why Is My Cat Not Cleaning Themselves?

Cats don’t like to be dirty, so if your previously clean cat is suddenly not engaging in grooming behavior, something may be wrong. Here are common reasons that your cat may not be cleaning their own butt.

  • Limited Mobility: This is the most common reason that cats fail to clean themselves. Cleaning their backend requires flexibility. Senior cats that have developed arthritis may find it too painful to bend around. If a cat can’t maneuver their body to groom, they will cease to do so. Sometimes, physical limitations also develop in obese cats, so it’s important to keep your cat at a healthy body weight.
  • Long Hair: Long Haired cats are more prone to having dirty butts than short haired Their hair can matt and tangle, making the grooming process painful, particularly if feces gets trapped in the hair. Performing regular hair trimming can help prevent this.
  • Diarrhea: Cats that get sick and develop diarrhea may struggle to keep themselves clean. While one or two episodes of diarrhea aren’t usually a concern, consult your veterinarian if it persists for more than 24 hours, as your cat can become dehydrated.
  • Dirty Litter Box: Litter boxes should be cleaned daily at a minimum. Most cats will avoid dirty litter boxes and may refuse to groom themselves after using a stinky one.
  • Swollen Anal Glands: Anal glands can develop abscesses and swell up, blocking the path for effective waste removal. If your cat can’t poop, there is sometimes leakage of fecal matter, causing a dirty butt. Until the anal glands are expressed, their butt will stay dirty. If you are comfortable with the process, it can be done at home, or a vet can do it for you.
  • Intestinal Parasites: Worms are fairly common in cats and can leave them with an itchy anus and sometimes a dirty butt. You may see worms hanging out of the anus or just find that your cat is uncomfortable and scooting their bum around the floor. Either way, deworming your cat will fix the problem.

See Also: My Cat’s Butt Is Red, What’s Wrong? 10 Vet Reviewed Reasons


Final Thoughts

Sometimes, there’s no fix for your cat’s lack of grooming, and you must step in and clean their butt. It’s an important job because it keeps you and your cat healthy. The simple suggestions outlined in this article should make the job easy!

Featured Image Credit by: JackieLou DL, Pixabay

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