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Cat Hernia Surgery

Cats can develop hernias, which can be treated with surgery if detected early. These hernias are usually not serious, and our veterinarians in Meadow Vista can help. In this article, we'll discuss the different types of hernias in cats, the surgical options available, and what to expect during the recovery period after the surgery.

What are hernias?

Hernias are uncommon in cats, but when they occur, they are usually congenital, which means that a kitten was born with one. Hernias can also be caused by injuries, internal damage, flawed muscles, weak muscle walls that allow organs and tissue to pass through, and trauma. 

A hernia is essentially a collection of fat, intestine, and potentially other internal organs that escape the abdominal cavity. Other potential causes include pregnancy, constipation, or excessive bloating. Additionally, 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 classified based on their location in a cat's body. These types include:

Umbilical Hernia

An umbilical hernia is a condition that causes a soft swelling or bulge under the skin of a cat's underside, just below the ribcage and near the belly button.

It may appear when the cat is crying, straining, standing, or meowing, and is caused by an opening in the muscle wall. This opening can occur if the umbilical ring does not close properly after birth, allowing organs to push through the surrounding area. 

Umbilical hernias are more commonly seen in kittens and do not typically pose any health risks or cause pain. They usually close on their own without any treatment by the time the kitten reaches 3 to 4 months of age.

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 can live with a mild diaphragmatic hernia for years without showing any clinical signs. However, the symptoms can become life-threatening in more severe cases, especially if left untreated. Cats with a diaphragmatic hernia may cough persistently, have a poor appetite, and feel weak and lethargic. In severe cases, they may experience difficulty breathing, have a rapid, short breathing pattern, and a fever. They may even collapse.

Inguinal Hernia

In cats, inguinal hernias are rare and typically only occur in pregnant females. This type of hernia occurs when the intestines protrude through the inguinal canal, affecting the 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

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. 

If your cat has a hernia, there is a high risk of recurrence. Therefore, your veterinarian may recommend repairing the muscle wall, even for small openings, as they may lead to complications such as strangulation.

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

Before the surgery, your vet will conduct a complete blood count, blood chemistry profile, and urinalysis to check your pet's overall physical health.

Provided your cat does not require an urgent hernia repair, any conditions your vet diagnoses can be addressed before surgery. Usually, 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 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.

Your veterinarian will prepare your pet for surgery by shaving and cleaning the area to be operated on. They will also use surgical drapes to keep the area sterile during the operation.

The vet will then push the abdominal organs back into the body and repair any damaged organs or tissue before closing the gap in the muscle wall.

They may use synthetic surgical mesh if the gap is too large or the tissue has died. Alternatively, they may use existing muscle tissue to close the gap. Finally, the incision will be closed using sutures.

How much does a cat hernia surgery cost?

The price for a cat's hernia surgery can fluctuate greatly depending on a number of factors. These factors may include the intricacy of your cat's condition, your geographical location, and the differences in pricing among individual veterinarians. Your vet can provide a cost estimate only after thoroughly examining and diagnosing your cat's condition.

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

After your cat has undergone hernia surgery, you might be curious about their recovery process and what to expect. The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to your cat before and after the surgery to prevent or treat any infections. To prevent your cat from biting or licking the incision areas or sutures, they must wear a collar during their recovery period. Pain medications and rest in a cage may be prescribed as necessary. 

Fortunately, after the surgery, most cats will not require long-term hospitalization as the surgery is usually uncomplicated. Furthermore, the hernia may be permanently resolved, and surgical complications are infrequent.

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 immediately 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 Meadow Vista veterinarians today to have your cat diagnosed and treated. 

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