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What is the Cost to Express a Cat’s Anal Glands? 2024 Price Guide

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

Male cat’s butt/anal

Cats have anal glands that contain a foul-smelling substance. This substance is utilized for pheromone and marking purposes. In normal cases, it is expressed naturally when the cat uses the bathroom. However, there are some cases where it may not express properly. When this occurs, you may need the vet or groomer to express the gland.

Not all cats need their glands expressed. In fact, expressing them when the cat doesn’t need you to can lead to inflammation and further problems. Therefore, we highly recommend only expressing your cat’s anal glands if they need to be expressed.

Of course, this procedure does cost some money. However, it probably isn’t as much as you might think. Generally, expressing a cat’s anal glands will cost you $20-$50.

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The Importance of Expressing a Cat’s Anal Glands

Cats don’t always have issues with their anal glands. However, if they do, they may need them regularly expressed to avoid problems like infections. Anal glands can be easily treated by expressing them, though this should only be done by your vet or groomer. If an infection has already taken hold, your cat may need antibiotics or something similar.

Not expressing your cat’s glands when they need to be expressed can lead to worsening problems. For instance, your cat may end up with infections and worsening inflammation. Obviously, treating these problems is more expensive than getting the gland expressed, to begin with. Therefore, waiting to have the gland expressed may lead to higher vet bills later on.

A vet checking the anal glands of a kitten
Image Credit: Hanna Taniukevich, Shutterstock

How Much Does Expressing a Cat’s Anal Glands Cost?

Expressing a cat’s anal gland comes with a low cost, in most cases. Often, just getting the gland expressed may cost anywhere from $15 to $50, depending on where you go. Getting it done at a vet is often more expensive, as you’re often charged a vet exam fee, too. The only exception is for cats that get their glands regularly expressed. In this case, the vet may not charge you for an office visit every time.

Getting it done at a groomer during your cat’s regular visit is often pretty straightforward. However, you may have to pay for an extra visit if your feline doesn’t usually go see the vet.

Getting a cat’s anal gland expressed may or may not be covered by insurance. Sometimes, it is seen as preventative care, which isn’t often covered. However, if your cat has a diagnosed problem with their gland, it may count as treatment of an illness.

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Additional Costs to Anticipate

If your feline has an infection, you’ll also need to pay for antibiotics. Luckily, these are pretty cheap for most cats, ranging from $10–$20 for a round. Cats with serious issues may end up needing hospitalization. This can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the length of stay and treatments necessary. If your cat needs multiple surgeries, you can expect it to cost even more.

Complications will raise the price and often occur when the anal gland is allowed to stay clogged for an extended period. Therefore, getting it dealt with quickly may help keep your costs lower.

You’ll also need to get your cat’s anal glands expressed regularly after it is done once. Once a feline’s anal gland gets clogged, the odds of it getting clogged again are fairly high. Often, this is a chronic problem, so you’ll need to get your cat regularly expressed.

Luckily, getting your cat expressed regularly is often cheaper than letting issues develop due to a clog.

vet holding a senior cat
Image Credit: Alice Rodnova, Shutterstock

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Does Pet Insurance Cover Expressing a Cat’s Anal Glands?

If the anal glands are due to an underlying issue that is diagnosed, pet insurance may cover the procedure when done at the vet’s office. However, this isn’t always true. Sometimes, the procedure counts as preventative, which may prevent many insurance companies from covering it. In the end, it largely depends on the company and the reason behind the expression.

Expression done at a groomer is hardly ever covered. In many cases, the pet insurance company won’t cover anything done at a groomer, as it isn’t technically medical. Therefore, if you want your insurance to cover it, you’ll need to get the expression done at a vet’s office.

When in doubt, we highly recommend calling your insurance plan and asking. They should be able to let you know if the procedure is covered.

pet insurance coverage
Image Credit: Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock

Preventing Anal Gland Problems

Often, anal gland problems are genetic. Therefore, there isn’t anything you can do to prevent them. Some breeds are more prone to anal gland issues than others. While breeders may attempt to prevent these issues as much as possible, anal gland clogs are often benign and, therefore, not that high on the list of diseases to prevent.

If your cat has an existing anal gland issue, your vet may prescribe medication to help prevent or reduce these problems. Of course, you’ll need to pay for these medications, and your cat will probably be on them for the rest of their life. Therefore, this is a significant cost to consider. However, it may help prevent needing anal gland expression quite as often, which can save you money in the long run.

Diet may also play a role. Therefore, it’s important to feed your cat a high-quality food. Otherwise, they may develop more anal gland problems down the line.

To some extent, you can also prevent anal gland problems by reducing the chance of injuries. Outdoor cats are more likely to have physical injuries, which may impact their anal glands. Getting your cat checked out quickly when an injury does occur can help prevent complications.

Allergies can also cause anal gland issues. You can sometimes remove the allergens to prevent issues, especially if it comes from food. However, environmental allergens may be unremovable. You can’t take all the pollen out of the air, after all. Sometimes, medication can help and may even eliminate anal gland issues if this is the root cause.

Cats with loose stools may have more anal gland problems, as they may be unable to expel properly. There are several reasons your cat may always have loose stools, and these underlying problems would need to be corrected.

cat eating from white ceramic bowl
Image Credit: sweetlouise, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

Cats with anal gland problems aren’t all that common. However, if your cat needs them expressed, it isn’t usually too expensive. It only costs between $20 to $50 to get them expressed at the vet. Complications can arise, though, to increase the price. Many cats get anal gland problems for one reason or another, and this underlying reason needs to be solved. If an infection is set up, your feline may need medication to help clear it out. Other times, hospitalization may be required, which can seriously raise the price.

Once your cat gets their glands expressed once, then they probably will need to have them expressed on a regular basis.

Some groomers can express a cat’s anal glands, too. It may be cheaper to have it done at your cat’s regular grooming visit (if they have one). However, pet insurance won’t cover procedures at a groomer in most cases.

Featured Image Credit: Honeybee49, Shutterstock

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