If your cat is experiencing a condition such as a hernia, they may need to be treated using a surgical procedure. Here, our San Angelo vets share some information about cat hernias and how surgery can help repair the opening and prevent further complications.
Cat Hernias and How Surgery Can Help Repair Them
While hernias will not affect every cat, the cats that do experience this condition will likely have had the hernia since birth. However, trauma, injury, internal damage, flawed muscles or weak muscle walls that allow organs and tissue to pass through can also cause hernias.
A hernia can be described as a collection of intestine, fat, or other internal organs that escape through a hole in the abdominal cavity. Excessive bloating, pregnancy, or constipation are other potential causes. In cases where a cat has developed a hernia after spay surgery, it is highly likely that the sutures were not closed properly after the procedure.
Another potential cause of hernias after spaying surgery is that the cat was too active, too quickly. You should keep your cat indoors and relatively calm for about 14 days following their spay operation, in order to decrease the risk.
Types of Hernias in Cats
There are a number of different types of hernias that can affect cats. Some of the most common types are:
A diaphragmatic hernia is when the thin muscle between the abdomen and the chest tears allowing for the organs in the abdomen to spill into the chest cavity. This type of hernia is quite serious and the vet will likely request that your cat has surgery as soon as possible. After surgery, your cat will still be at risk of complications and so your vet may not give a specific prognosis until the risk decreases.
Hiatal hernias are a rare form 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 hernias are most often an issue for pregnant female cats. If the intestines protrude through the inguinal canal, an inguinal hernia can affect your cat’s groin area.
Typically this type of hernia can be pushed back into place but it can 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.
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.
This type of hernia is caused by an opening in the muscle wall and can occur when the umbilical ring does not close properly following birth. The organs can push through the area surrounding the umbilicus.
These umbilical hernias affect kittens and should not cause any issues. Typically the hernia will not need surgical repair and should resolve itself by the time your kitten is four months old.
Treating Your Cat's Hernia With Surgery
Your veterinarian may be able to push your kitty's internal organs back through the muscle wall, which may close up and heal after the organs are back in the abdominal cavity where they belong.
Nonetheless, the risk that the hernia will recur is high, so your vet may recommend fixing the muscle wall since even small openings can lead to complications such as strangulation.
If your cat's organs cannot easily be pushed back through the abdominal cavity, if the tear in the muscle wall does not close by itself, or if complications such as blockage, infection or strangulation occur, your cat will need to undergo surgery in order to repair the hernia.
First, your vet will need to complete a blood chemistry test, complete blood count and urinalysis to determine your cat's overall physical health.
Provided the hernia repair is not urgent, any conditions that are diagnosed can be addressed prior to surgery. Non-urgent hernias can typically be repaired when your cat is neutered or spayed to minimize the need for anesthesia.
The night before your cat's hernia surgery, they will need to fast, and fluids will also need to be restricted.
What Your Cat Will Experience During Surgery to Repair a Hernia
Prior to the surgery, your vet will shave and clean the area to be operated on, then use surgical drapes to help ensure the area remains sterile.
Intravenous anesthesia will be used to put your cat into a deep sleep, then a tracheal tube will be inserted to maintain the correct dose of anesthesia with gas.
During the operation, your veterinarian will push the abdominal organs back into the abdominal cavity. Any damaged organs and tissue will be surgically repaired before the gap in the muscle wall is closed.
If the opening in your cat's abdomen is large, or if some tissue needs to be eliminated because it has died, your dog surgeon may use either synthetic surgical mesh or existing muscle tissue to close the gap in the muscle wall. Sutures will then be used to close the incision.
What to Expect From Your Cat After Hernia Surgery and Through Recovery
Your vet will provide you will a prescription for antibiotics. These will help prevent potential infections while your cat heals. Your cat will also need to wear a collar during the recovery period to prevent him or her from licking or biting incision areas or sutures. Cage rest and pain medicines will be prescribed as required.
Cats that have had hernia surgery typically will not need to be hospitalized long-term after surgery, as the procedure is usually straightforward. In addition, surgical complications are rare and the hernia may be permanently resolved.
The risk of suture rupturing, infections or hemorrhaging can be minimized with careful monitoring by your dog and cat surgeon.
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.
Cat Hernia Veterinary Surgery Cost
The surgery to help treat your cat's hernia will have a number of different aspects. How much your veterinary surgeon will charge to perform your cat's hernia procedure will depend upon where you live in the country, the size and general health of your cat, the severity of the hernia and more.
The only way to get an accurate estimate for your cat's hernia surgery speak to your vet. At Western Veterinary Hospital our emergency veterinarians are always happy to provide clients with a complete breakdown of costs and to take the time to go over those fees with you.
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.