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Cat Hernia Surgery

Cat hernias can be treated and are not too serious if diagnosed early. Today, our veterinarians at Louisa discuss the various types of hernias in cats and what will occur if your cat experiences this condition.

What are hernias?

While hernias in cats are uncommon, they typically stem from congenital conditions. However, trauma, injury, internal damage, or weakened muscle walls can also precipitate hernias.

Essentially, a hernia entails intestine, fat, and occasionally other internal organs protruding from the abdominal cavity. Excessive bloating, pregnancy, or constipation may also contribute to hernias in cats.

Furthermore, hernias can result from the use of improper suture materials or inadequate closure of suture lines following a spay operation. Failure to keep a cat calm and inactive during the healing process after spaying can also lead to hernias.

What are the various types of hernia?

The three types of hernias in cats are categorized based on their location in the cat's body. They include:

Hiatal Hernia

One of the rarest types of hernias, a hiatal hernia, is a type of diaphragmatic hernia, which can occur when the abdominal viscera pushes through the diaphragm. When caused by a birth defect, this "sliding hernia" can come and go.

Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernias represent one of the less common types of hernias in cats, primarily affecting pregnant females. When the intestines protrude through the inguinal canal, they impact your cat's groin area.

While this hernia type in cats can typically be manually pushed back in, it could progress into a severe condition if the intestines get trapped in the muscle wall. In such instances, an inguinal hernia poses a life-threatening risk to your cat if it interrupts blood flow to the tissue.

Umbilical Hernia

If your cat has an umbilical hernia, this may feel like a soft swelling, bulge, or squishy protrusion below the skin. It is located just under the ribcage on a cat's underside, near the belly button, and may often appear when your cat is meowing, crying, straining, or standing.

Caused by an opening in the muscle wall, this type of hernia can occur if the umbilical ring does not close properly following birth. The organs can push through the area surrounding the umbilicus.

Usually only seen in kittens, an umbilical hernia poses no health risks and is typically painless. It will likely close without treatment when your kitten is 3 to 4 months old.

Cat Hernia Surgery & Treatment

Your vet may occasionally push internal organs back through the muscle wall. Once the organs return to the abdominal cavity, healing of the opening may occur.

However, due to the high risk of hernia recurrence, your vet may recommend repairing the muscle wall, as even small openings can potentially lead to complications such as strangulation.

If organs cannot be easily pushed back or if complications such as blockage, infection, or strangulation arise, surgery will be necessary to repair the hernia in your cat.

To assess your pet's overall physical health, your vet will conduct a blood chemistry test, complete blood count, and urinalysis.

For non-urgent hernias, any diagnosed conditions can be addressed before surgery. Typically, these hernias can be repaired during your cat's neutering or spaying procedure to minimize the need for anesthesia.

Fasting and restricted fluids will be necessary the night before your cat's hernia surgery. Intravenous anesthesia will be administered to induce a deep sleep, followed by the insertion of a tracheal tube to maintain anesthesia with gas.

Before the surgery, the area to be operated on will be shaved and cleaned. Surgical drapes will be used to maintain sterility.

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

The veterinarian may use synthetic surgical mesh or existing muscle tissue to close the gap, depending on its size and the condition of the tissue. Sutures will be used to close the incision.

What can I expect with my cat's hernia surgery?

Your cat's hernia surgery may involve administering antibiotics before and after the procedure to prevent or treat the infection. Additionally, your cat will require a collar during recovery to prevent licking or biting of incisions or sutures. Cage rest and pain medication will be provided as needed.

Typically, cats undergoing hernia surgery won't require extended hospitalization afterward, as the procedure is generally straightforward. Complications from surgery are rare, and hernias are often permanently resolved.

Careful monitoring by a veterinarian can minimize the risks of suture ruptures, infections, or hemorrhaging.

Early detection and treatment of hernias in cats usually lead to few complications and a low chance of recurrence. Ensuring early and effective treatment is essential for your cat's continued health.

What are the costs associated with a hernia?

Several factors will influence the cost of your cat's hernia surgery, ranging from where you live to the fees charged by your specific vet and the complexity of your cat's condition. Your vet can provide you with a written estimate of how much your cat's hernia surgery will cost. That said, you can expect to pay anywhere from $250 - $1100 to have your cat's hernia surgically repaired.

What should I do if I think my cat has 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.

Are you worried that your cat may be experiencing a hernia? Contact our Louisa vets to have your cat scheduled for an examination.

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Tri-County Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Louisa companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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