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Cat Hernia Surgery

Cat Hernia Surgery

Hernias in cats typically aren't serious and can be repaired with surgery as long as they are detected early. Today, our Des Moines vets discuss different types of cat hernias, surgery and what you can expect from cat hernia surgery recovery. 

What are hernias?

While hernias do not commonly occur in cats, when they do happen they are usually congenital (meaning a kitten was born with one). Injury, internal damage, flawed muscles, weak muscle walls that allow organs and tissue to pass through and trauma can also cause hernias. 

A hernia is essentially an escape of fat, intestine, and possibly other internal organs from the abdominal cavity. Pregnancy, constipation, or excessive bloating are all possible causes. A hernia can also occur if the wrong type of suture material is used or suture lines are not properly closed 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 beneath the skin. An umbilical hernia, which is located just under the ribcage on the underside of a cat near the belly button, may appear when your cat is crying, straining, standing, or meowing.

This type of hernia is caused by an opening in the muscle wall 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 type of diaphragmatic hernia, a hiatal hernia is one of the rarest types. It can occur when the abdominal viscera pushes through the diaphragm. This "sliding" hernia can come and go when caused by a birth defect. 

Cats with a mild diaphragmatic hernia can go for years without showing any clinical signs. In more severe cases, the symptoms can be fatal if not addressed or treated promptly. Cats suffering from a diaphragmatic hernia frequently cough, have a poor appetite, and are weak and lethargic. They may have difficulty breathing or a rapid, short breathing pattern in severe cases, as well as a fever. They might even fall apart.

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.

Although cats with this type of hernia can typically have it pushed back in, if the intestines get stuck in the muscle wall, it could become a serious condition. If the blood supply to the affected tissue is cut off, an inguinal hernia could endanger your cat's life in this situation.

Cat Hernia Surgery & Treatment

Occasionally, a vet may be able to push internal organs back through the muscle wall, which may close and heal after the organs are back in the abdominal cavity where they belong. 

That said, because there is a high risk that a hernia will recur, your veterinarian may recommend repairing the muscle wall as even small openings may lead to complications such as strangulation. 

If organs cannot easily be pushed back through the abdominal cavity, if complications such as infection, blockage or strangulation occur or if a tear in the muscle wall does not close by itself, your cat will need surgery to repair the hernia. 

Your vet will first complete a complete blood count, blood chemistry profile and urinalysis to check your pet's general physical health. 

Any conditions your vet diagnoses can be treated before surgery as long as your cat doesn't need an immediate hernia repair. When your cat is spayed or neutered, non-urgent hernias can typically be repaired to reduce the need for anesthesia.

The night before your cat's hernia surgery, he or she will be required to fast, and fluids should be restricted. Your vet will use intravenous anesthesia to put your cat into a deep sleep, 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, then use surgical drapes to help ensure the area 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 complexity of your cat's condition, where you live, and the variations in individual veterinarian prices are just a few of the many variables that can affect how much a cat's hernia surgery will cost. After examining and diagnosing your cat's condition, your veterinarian can provide a price range.

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

You might be wondering how your cat will feel and what to expect following hernia surgery. Antibiotics may be given to your cat before and after hernia surgery to treat or prevent infection. Your cat will also need to wear a collar while recovering to avoid biting or licking incision areas or sutures. As needed, pain relievers and cage rest will be prescribed.

Typically, cats that have had hernia surgery will not require long-term hospitalization after surgery, 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 Des Moines veterinarians today to have your cat diagnosed and treated. 

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Des Moines Veterinary Hospital welcomes cats, dogs, fish, small mammals, and their owners to our clinic! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Des Moines companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's appointment.

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