Discovering a hernia in your feline friend can be a worrisome experience. However, rest assured that most cat hernias are not typically serious and can be effectively treated. Today, our Seattle veterinarians describe various types of hernias in cats and provide insight into what to expect if your cat undergoes hernia surgery.
What are hernias?
Although uncommon in felines, hernias can still occur and may be present at birth or caused by various factors such as trauma, injury, internal damage, flawed muscles, or weak muscle walls that allow organs and tissue to protrude from the abdominal cavity. Additionally, hernias in cats can be caused by excessive bloating, pregnancy, or constipation.
It is also possible for a hernia to develop after a spay operation, particularly if the wrong suture material is used or the suture lines are not properly closed. It is crucial to keep your cat calm and inactive while recovering from a spay surgery to prevent the occurrence of hernias.
What are the different types of hernias in cats?
The three types of hernias in cats are categorized based on their location in the cat's body. They include:
A hiatal hernia is a unique form of diaphragmatic hernia where the abdominal viscera protrudes through the diaphragm. Interestingly, it's also one of the rarest types of hernias that exist.
This particular kind of hernia, also known as a "sliding hernia," can arise and vanish due to a birth defect.
Inguinal hernias are not commonly observed in cats, but they are more likely to affect pregnant females. These hernias occur when the intestines protrude through the inguinal canal, causing discomfort in the groin area.
While inguinal hernias in cats are usually treatable, they can escalate into a severe condition if the intestines get trapped in the muscle wall.
This can lead to a life-threatening situation if blood flow to the tissue is obstructed, making it crucial to seek prompt medical attention.
If your cat has an umbilical hernia, you may notice a soft swelling, bulge, or squishy protrusion beneath the skin. This condition is commonly seen when your cat is meowing, crying, straining, or standing. The hernia is located just under the ribcage on the underside of your cat, near the belly button.
An umbilical hernia occurs when there is an opening in the muscle wall, which can happen if the umbilical ring fails to close properly after birth. As a result, the organs may protrude through the area surrounding the umbilicus. While this type of hernia is typically seen in kittens, it poses no health risks and is usually painless. In most cases, the hernia will close without treatment by the time your kitten is 3 to 4 months old.
Cat Hernia Surgery & Treatment
Occasionally, when your cat experiences a hernia, their vet may be able to push the internal organs back through the muscle wall. However, even if the opening appears to have healed, the likelihood of the hernia recurring is high, which is why the vet may suggest fixing the muscle wall.
This is particularly important because even small openings can lead to severe complications like strangulation. In cases where pushing the organs back into the abdominal cavity is not feasible, or the tear in the muscle wall doesn't close on its own, or if your cat experiences complications like infection or blockage, surgery will be necessary to repair the hernia.
Before the operation, the vet will conduct a series of tests to determine your pet's physical health. If the hernia repair isn't urgent, any health conditions diagnosed during the tests can be treated before surgery. Typically, non-urgent hernias can be repaired during your cat's neutering or spaying procedure to minimize anesthesia needs.
Fasting will be necessary the night before your cat's hernia surgery, and fluid intake will be restricted. Your vet will use intravenous anesthesia to put your cat into a deep sleep and maintain the anesthesia with gas using a tracheal tube. Before the surgery, the surgical area will be shaved and cleaned, and sterile surgical drapes will be used to ensure the area remains clean.
During the operation, the vet will push the abdominal organs back into the cavity and repair any damaged organs and tissues before closing the muscle wall gap using synthetic surgical mesh or existing muscle tissue. Finally, sutures will be used to close the incision.
What will my cat's hernia surgery recovery be like?
Before and after your cat's hernia surgery, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to prevent or treat any potential infections. During the recovery period, it's important for your cat to wear a collar to avoid licking or biting the incision areas or sutures. In addition, your veterinarian may recommend cage rest and pain relievers to help with your cat's recovery.
Thankfully, cats that undergo hernia surgery usually do not require hospitalization as the procedure is typically straightforward and surgical complications are rare. However, it's important for your cat to be closely monitored by a veterinarian to minimize the risk of suture rupturing, infections, or hemorrhaging.
Fortunately, when detected and treated early, hernias in cats are unlikely to cause complications and are unlikely to recur. To ensure your cat stays healthy, it's crucial to seek early and effective treatment.
How much does cat hernia surgery cost?
When it comes to your cat's hernia surgery, the total expense you will incur depends on several factors, such as your location, the veterinary clinic's fees, and the severity of your cat's hernia. However, your veterinarian can provide you with a detailed estimate in writing. Generally, the cost of hernia surgery for cats ranges from $250 to $1100.
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.