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Cat Hernia Surgery

Hernias in cats are typically not serious and can be effectively treated with surgery if detected early. In this article, our veterinarian in Torrance discusses various types of cat hernias, surgical procedures, and what to expect during cat hernia surgery recovery.

What are hernias?

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

In a hernia, intestines, fat, or other internal organs escape through a hole in the abdominal cavity. Possible causes include excessive bloating, pregnancy, or constipation. Additionally, using incorrect suture material or improperly closing suture lines after a spay procedure can lead to a hernia.

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

Are hernias painful for cats?

Hernias can cause discomfort and pain in cats, and they can vary in severity and type. It's important to watch for any signs of discomfort, such as changes in behavior, reluctance to move or groom the affected area, or vomiting. If you suspect that your cat is experiencing pain or discomfort, it's crucial to take it to a veterinarian for evaluation and appropriate treatment.

What are the different types of hernias in cats?

The three types of hernias in cats are defined based on their location in a cat's body. These include:

Umbilical Hernia

An umbilical hernia may feel like a squishy protrusion, soft swelling, or bulge below the skin. Located just under the ribcage on a cat's underside near the belly button, it may often appear when your cat is crying, straining, standing, or meowing. 

An opening in the muscle wall causes this type of hernia and may occur if the umbilical ring does not close properly after birth. The organs may push through the area surrounding the umbilicus. 

Typically only seen in kittens, an umbilical hernia poses no health risks and is usually painless. It will probably close without treatment when your kitten is three to four months old. 

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 fetal abnormality.

Cats can live with a mild diaphragmatic hernia for years without displaying clinical signs. The symptoms can become life-threatening in more severe cases, especially if not addressed or treated immediately.

Cats with a diaphragmatic hernia will often cough persistently, have a poor appetite, and be weak and lethargic. In severe cases, they may have difficulty breathing or have a rapid, short breathing pattern and fever. They may even collapse. 

Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernias are one of the more uncommon types of hernias in cats and are typically an issue in pregnant females. If the intestines protrude through the inguinal canal, an inguinal hernia can affect your cat’s groin area.

If the intestines become trapped in the muscle wall, this type of hernia in cats can usually be pushed back in, but it may develop into a serious condition. In such cases, an inguinal hernia can become life-threatening for your cat if it severs blood flow to the tissue.

Cat Hernia Surgery & Treatment

While some hernias may be pushed back through the muscle wall, veterinarians often recommend surgery to repair the hernia and prevent recurrence or complications. Surgery involves pushing abdominal organs back into place, repairing any damaged tissue, and closing the muscle wall gap, sometimes using synthetic surgical mesh. 

How much does a cat hernia surgery cost?

The cost of hernia surgery for a cat can vary greatly depending on various factors, such as the complexity of the condition and differences in vet prices. After examining and diagnosing your cat's condition, your veterinarian can estimate your cost.

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

After your cat's hernia surgery, you may be curious about how it feels and what to expect. Your vet will likely prescribe antibiotics before and after the surgery to treat or prevent any infections. While your cat is in recovery, it must wear a collar to prevent it from biting or licking the incision areas or sutures. Your vet will also prescribe pain medicine and cage rest as needed.

Typically, cats that have undergone hernia surgery do not need to be hospitalized for an extended period, as the procedure is generally straightforward. Additionally, surgical complications are rare, and a veterinarian can permanently resolve the hernia by closely monitoring your cat and minimizing the risk of suture rupturing, infections, or hemorrhaging.

Hernias in cats do not usually cause many complications or recur if detected and treated early. It is essential to seek early and effective treatment to ensure your cat remains healthy.

What should I do if I think my cat may have a hernia?

If you suspect your cat has a hernia, contact your vet immediately to schedule an appointment. The vet will diagnose and treat the condition.

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 your cat may have a hernia? Contact our Torrance veterinarians today for diagnosis and treatment.

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