Finding a hernia in your cat can be worrying. But don't worry too much because most cat hernias are not usually serious and can be treated well. Today, our veterinarians in Mount Vernon explain different types of cat hernias and give you an idea of what to expect if your cat needs hernia surgery.
What are hernias?
Hernias, though not common in cats, can still happen. They can occur at birth or be caused by factors like trauma, injury, internal damage, flawed muscles, or weak muscle walls.
These factors allow organs and tissue to stick out from the abdomen. Excessive bloating, pregnancy, or constipation can also cause hernias in cats.
After a spay operation, it's important to use the right suture material and properly close the suture lines to prevent hernias. Keeping your cat calm and inactive during recovery is crucial to avoid hernias.
What are the different types of hernias in cats?
There are three types of hernias in cats, which are classified according to where they occur in the cat's body. These types are:
A hiatal hernia is a special type of hernia where the organs in the abdomen push through the diaphragm. It's interesting to note that this is one of the rarest forms of hernias that exist. This specific hernia, also called a "sliding hernia," can appear and disappear because of a birth defect.
Inguinal hernias are uncommon in cats, but pregnant females are at a higher risk. These hernias happen when the intestines push through the inguinal canal, causing discomfort in the groin.
Although inguinal hernias in cats can generally be treated, they can worsen if the intestines become trapped in the muscle wall. This can be dangerous if the blood flow to the tissue is blocked, so seeking immediate medical help is important.
If your cat has an umbilical hernia, you might notice a soft swelling or bulge beneath the skin. It can feel squishy to the touch. This condition is often observed when your cat is meowing, crying, straining, or standing. The hernia is located just below the ribcage, near the belly button area of your cat's underside.
An umbilical hernia occurs when there is a gap in the muscle wall, which can happen if the opening around the belly button doesn't close properly after birth. As a result, organs may push through the area surrounding the belly button. Although this type of hernia is commonly seen in kittens, it doesn't pose any health risks and is usually not painful. Most of the time, the hernia will close on its own without any treatment by the time your kitten is 3 to 4 months old.
Cat Hernia Surgery & Treatment
Sometimes, when your cat has a hernia, the vet may be able to push the organs back into place. However, even if it seems like the hernia has healed, there's a high chance it could happen again, so the vet might recommend fixing the muscle wall.
This is important because even small openings can cause serious problems like strangulation. If it's not possible to push the organs back or if the muscle wall doesn't close on its own, or if there are complications like infection or blockage, your cat will need surgery to repair the hernia. Before the surgery, the vet will run some tests to check your pet's health. If the hernia repair isn't urgent, any health issues found during the tests can be treated before the surgery.
Usually, non-urgent hernias can be fixed while your cat is getting neutered or spayed to minimize the need for anesthesia. Your cat will need to fast the night before the hernia surgery, and fluid intake will be limited. The vet will use intravenous anesthesia to put your cat into a deep sleep and maintain the anesthesia with gas using a tube in the windpipe. Before the surgery, the area will be shaved and cleaned, and sterile surgical drapes will be used to keep it clean. During the operation, the vet will put the organs back in place and repair any damaged organs or tissues before closing the muscle wall gap with a 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?
Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics for your cat before and after hernia surgery to prevent or treat infections. During recovery, your cat must wear a collar to avoid licking or biting the incision areas. Your veterinarian may also recommend cage rest and pain relievers to help your cat recover. Most of the time, cats undergoing hernia surgery don't need to stay in the hospital because the procedure is usually straightforward and complications are rare.
However, your cat needs to be closely monitored by a veterinarian to minimize the risk of suture rupturing, infections, or bleeding. Thankfully, if hernias in cats are detected and treated early, complications and recurrences are unlikely. To keep your cat 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 cost depends on different factors like your location, the fees charged by the veterinary clinic, and the severity of the hernia. Your veterinarian can give you a written estimate with all the details. Usually, cat hernia surgeries cost between $250 and $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.