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Cat Hernia Surgery

Hernias in cats are generally not a serious concern and can be treated through surgery, provided they are detected early. In this article, our vets in Marina del Rey will discuss various types of cat hernias, the surgical procedures involved, and what you can expect during the recovery period post-surgery.

What are hernias?

Hernias are not common in cats, but when they do occur, they are typically congenital, which means that a kitten was born with one. A hernia can also be caused by injury, internal damage, flawed muscles, weak muscle walls that allow organs and tissue to pass through, and trauma. 

A hernia is a collection of fat, intestine, and potentially other internal organs that escapes the abdominal cavity. Other potential causes include pregnancy, constipation, or excessive bloating. Moreover, a hernia may occur if the wrong type of suture material is used or suture lines are not closed properly after a spay operation. 

The condition can also happen if your cat is not kept calm and inactive enough throughout the healing process after a spaying procedure.

What are the different types of hernias in cats?

The three types of hernias in cats are defined based on their location in a cat's body. These include:

Umbilical Hernia

An umbilical hernia may feel like a squishy protrusion, soft swelling, or bulge below the skin. Located just under the ribcage on a cat's underside near the belly button, it may often appear when your cat is crying, straining, standing, or meowing. 

An opening in the muscle wall causes this type of hernia and may occur if the umbilical ring does not close properly after birth. The organs may push through the area surrounding the umbilicus. 

Typically only seen in kittens, an umbilical hernia poses no health risks and is usually painless. It will probably close without treatment by the time your kitten is 3 to 4 months old. 

Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia is a type of diaphragmatic hernia that is quite rare. It happens when the organs in the abdomen push through the diaphragm. This type of hernia is known as a "sliding" hernia because it can come and go, especially when caused by a birth defect. 

Cats can live with a mild diaphragmatic hernia for years without displaying any signs of illness. However, the symptoms can become life-threatening in severe cases, particularly if left untreated.

Cats with a diaphragmatic hernia often cough persistently, lose their appetite, and appear weak and lethargic. In more severe cases, they may find it hard to breathe, have a rapid, short breathing pattern, experience fever, and even collapse.

Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernias are one of the more uncommon types of hernias in cats and are typically an issue in pregnant females. If the intestines protrude through the inguinal canal, an inguinal hernia can affect your cat’s groin area.

Though this type of hernia in cats can usually be pushed back in, it may develop into a serious condition if the intestines become trapped in the muscle wall. In this case, an inguinal hernia can be life-threatening for your cat if blood flow to the tissue is severed.

Cat Hernia Surgery & Treatment

If your pet has a hernia, there are several different treatment options. Sometimes, a vet can push the organs back into place through the muscle wall and allow them to heal on their own. However, because there is a high risk of the hernia recurring, your veterinarian may recommend repairing the muscle wall to prevent complications such as strangulation.

If your cat's organs cannot be easily pushed back into place, if complications such as infection, blockage, or strangulation occur, or if the muscle wall does not close by itself, surgery will be necessary to repair the hernia.

Before surgery, your vet will perform a complete blood count, blood chemistry profile, and urinalysis to check your cat's overall health. If there are any other conditions that need to be addressed, they will be addressed before the hernia repair surgery. In some cases, non-urgent hernias can be repaired when your cat is spayed or neutered to minimize the need for anesthesia.

The night before your cat's hernia surgery, they will need to fast and have their fluids restricted. Your vet will use intravenous anesthesia to put your cat into a deep sleep, and then insert a tracheal tube to maintain the anesthesia with gas. 

Before the surgery, your vet will shave and clean the area to be operated on and use surgical drapes to help ensure it remains sterile.

During the operation, the vet will push the abdominal organs back into the abdominal cavity. Any damaged organs and tissue will be surgically repaired before the gap in the muscle wall is closed.

The veterinarian may use either synthetic surgical mesh (if the opening is too large or if the tissue needs to be eliminated because it has died) or existing muscle tissue to shut the gap in the muscle wall. To close the incision, sutures will be used.

How much does a cat hernia surgery cost?

The cost of a cat's hernia surgery can vary widely depending on many factors, including the complexity of your cat's condition, your location, and the differences between individual vet prices. Your vet can provide a cost estimate after they've examined and diagnosed your kitty's condition. 

What can I expect from my cat's hernia surgery recovery?

You may wonder how your cat will feel and what to expect after hernia surgery. The vet may provide antibiotics before and after your cat's hernia surgery to treat or prevent infection. Your cat will also need to wear a collar while recovering to prevent him or her from biting or licking incision areas or sutures. Pain medicines and cage rest will be prescribed as required. 

Typically, cats that have had hernia surgery will not require long-term hospitalization after the procedure, as the procedure is usually straightforward. Plus, surgical complications are rare, and the hernia may be permanently resolved. 

The risk of suture rupturing, infections, or hemorrhaging can be minimized with careful monitoring by a veterinarian.

When detected and treated early, hernias in cats do not tend to cause many complications and are unlikely to recur. Early and effective treatment is necessary to ensure your cat stays healthy.

What should I do if I think my cat may have a hernia?

If you suspect your cat may have a hernia, contact your vet right away to book an appointment so the condition can be officially diagnosed and treated.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you suspect your cat may have a hernia? Contact our Marina del Rey veterinarians today to have your cat diagnosed and treated. 

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