If your cat has a hernia, they will likely need surgery to correct the issue. In this post, our Turlock vets will cover the various types of hernias in cats, the surgical procedure, and the cost of cat hernia surgery.
Hernia is Cats
Cat hernias are rare, but they can occur either at birth or due to factors such as trauma, injury, internal damage, flawed muscles, or weak muscle walls.
These hernias involve escaping the intestine, fat, or other internal organs through a hole in the abdominal cavity. Excessive bloating, pregnancy, constipation, or the use of improper suture material or incorrect suture line closure after a spay operation can also lead to hernias.
You may have heard that cats can develop hernias after being spayed. However, if you ensure that your cat remains indoors and relatively calm for approximately 14 days following their spay operation, you can minimize this risk.
Types of Cat Hernias
There are three main types of hernias seen in cats, they include:
Hiatal hernias represent a rare type of diaphragmatic hernia that occurs when the abdominal viscera pushes through the diaphragm. This "sliding hernia" can intermittently manifest and resolve when it results from a congenital disability.
Pregnant female cats commonly face inguinal hernias, where the intestines protrude through the inguinal canal, impacting the cat's groin area.
You can usually push this hernia back into place, but it can worsen if the intestines get trapped in the muscle wall. In such instances, the inguinal hernia may become life-threatening for your cat due to severed blood flow to the affected tissue.
If your cat has an umbilical hernia, you'll notice a soft swelling, bulge, or squishy protrusion just beneath the skin, right below the ribcage on your cat's underside, close to the belly button.
This hernia may become apparent when your cat meows, cries, strains, or stands.
An opening in the muscle wall causes this type of hernia, which can occur when the umbilical ring fails to close properly after birth. As a result, organs can protrude through the surrounding area of the umbilicus.
Umbilical hernias are commonly observed in kittens and generally pose no significant health risks. They tend to be painless. Typically, your kitten's umbilical hernia will close on its own without needing treatment by the time it reaches 3 to 4 months of age.
Treatment for Cat Hernias
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.
Your vet will first perform a blood chemistry test, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis to assess your cat's physical health.
If the hernia repair is not urgent, any diagnosed conditions can be treated before surgery. Non-urgent hernias are usually repaired during your cat's neutering or spaying procedure to reduce the need for anesthesia.
On the night before your cat's hernia surgery, they must fast, and fluid intake should be limited.
Cat Hernia Surgery Process
Before 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 vet 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.
Cat Hernia Surgery Recovery
Your cat's hernia surgery may involve the administration of antibiotics before and after the procedure to prevent or treat infections. During the recovery period, your cat must wear a collar to prevent licking or biting the incision areas or sutures. Your vet will prescribe cage rest and pain medication as needed.
Most cats undergoing hernia surgery do not require long-term hospitalization, as the procedure is typically straightforward. Surgical complications are rare, and the hernia is usually permanently resolved.
Your vet will closely monitor your cat to minimize the risk of suture rupturing, infections, or hemorrhaging.
When hernias in cats are detected and treated early, they rarely lead to complications and are unlikely to recur. Ensuring early and effective treatment is crucial for your cat's continued health.
Determining Cat Hernia Surgery Cost
It's crucial to grasp that several factors influence the cost of veterinary care, including surgery. The price for your cat's hernia procedure performed by your veterinary surgeon hinges on factors such as your location, your cat's size and overall health, and the severity of the hernia.
You should consult your vet to obtain an accurate estimate for your cat's hernia surgery. Here at Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital, our emergency veterinarians are eager to offer clients a comprehensive cost breakdown and take the time to discuss these 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.