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Hernia Surgery for Cats

If your cat has a hernia, surgery will likely be required to correct the issue. In today's post, our Little Rock vets discuss different types of hernias seen in cats, the surgical process, and the cost of cat hernia surgery.    

Hernia is Cats

Cat hernias are uncommon, but when they do occur they are generally present when your kitten is born. Although, trauma, injury, internal damage, flawed muscles or weak muscle walls that allow organs and tissue to pass through can also cause hernias.

A hernia is a collection of intestine, fat, or other internal organs that escape through a hole in the abdominal cavity. Excessive bloating, pregnancy, or constipation are all possible causes. A hernia can also occur if the incorrect suture material is used or if suture lines are not properly closed after a spay procedure.

You may have heard that cats will sometimes develop a hernia after being spayed. Too much activity in the early days following the spaying procedure can indeed lead to hernias in some cats, but if you keep your cat indoors and relatively calm for about 14 days following their spay operation, the risk is minimized. 

Are hernia painful for cats?

Hernias in cats can be painful, especially if they become incarcerated or strangulated. It is important to seek veterinary care if you suspect your cat has a hernia to prevent complications. 

Types of Cat Hernias

There are three main types of hernias seen in cats. They include:

Hiatal Hernia

Hiatal hernias are a type of diaphragmatic hernia that occurs when abdominal viscera pushes through the diaphragm. This "sliding hernia" can appear and disappear as a result of a birth defect.

While a cat can live with a diaphragmatic hernia, it may require surgery to repair the hernia and ensure the cat's long-term health and well-being.

Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernias are most often an issue for pregnant female cats. If the intestines protrude through the inguinal canal, an inguinal hernia can affect your cat’s groin area.

This type of hernia is usually repairable, but it can become dangerous if the intestines become trapped in the muscle wall. An inguinal hernia in this case can be fatal for your cat if blood flow to the tissue is cut off.

Umbilical Hernia

An umbilical hernia in your cat may present as a soft swelling, bulge, or squishy protrusion beneath the skin. It appears frequently when your cat is meowing, crying, straining, or standing and is found just under the ribcage on the underside of a cat, near the belly button.

This type of hernia is caused by an opening in the muscle wall that occurs when the umbilical ring fails to close properly after birth. The organs can pass through the area around the umbilicus.

Umbilical hernias are commonly observed in kittens. These hernias do not pose any significant health risks and are usually painless. Your kitten's umbilical hernia will most likely close without treatment by the time she is 3 to 4 months old.

Treatment for Cat Hernias

Your veterinarian may be able to push your kitty's internal organs back through the muscle wall, which may close up and heal after the organs are back in the abdominal cavity where they belong.

Nonetheless, the risk that the hernia will recur is high, so your vet may recommend fixing the muscle wall since even small openings can lead to complications such as strangulation.

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

First, your vet will need to complete a blood chemistry test, complete blood count and urinalysis to determine your cat's overall physical health.

As long as the hernia repair is not urgent, any conditions discovered can be treated before surgery. Non-urgent hernias can usually be repaired without anesthesia if your cat has been neutered or spayed.

The night before your cat's hernia surgery, they will need to fast, and fluids will also need to be restricted.

Cat Hernia Surgery Process

Prior to surgery, your veterinarian will shave and clean the area to be operated on, and then use surgical drapes to keep the area sterile.

Intravenous anesthesia will be used to put your cat to sleep, followed by the insertion of a tracheal tube to maintain the appropriate level of anesthesia with gas.

During the procedure, your veterinarian will push the abdominal organs back into the cavity. Prior to closing the muscle wall gap, any damaged organs and tissue will be surgically repaired.

If there is a large opening in your cat's abdomen or some tissue needs to be removed due to death, your veterinarian may close the muscle wall gap with artificial surgical mesh or preexisting muscle tissue. Sutures will be used to close the incision.

Cat Hernia Surgery Recovery

In order to treat or prevent infection after your cat's hernia surgery, antibiotics may be given beforehand. In order to prevent him or her from licking or biting the sutures or the areas around the incisions, your cat will also need to wear a collar throughout the healing process. It may be necessary to prescribe cage rest and painkillers.

Cats who have had hernia surgery rarely require long-term hospitalization because the procedure is usually simple. In addition, surgical complications are uncommon, and the hernia may be permanently repaired.

Your vet's careful monitoring can reduce the risk of suture rupture, infections, or hemorrhaging.

Hernias in cats do not cause many complications and are unlikely to recur if detected and treated promptly.

Determining Cat Hernia Surgery Cost

It is critical to understand that the cost of veterinary care, including surgery, is influenced by a number of factors. The cost of your cat's hernia surgery will vary depending on where you live in the country, your cat's size and overall health, the severity of the hernia, and other factors.

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 think that your cat might have a hernia? Contact our Little Rock vets right away to book an examination for your feline family member. 

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Bowman Road Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Little Rock companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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