Hernia in Cats: Types, Diagnosis, Treatment and Care

Hernia en Gatos: Tipos, Diagnóstico, Tratamiento y Cuidados

In the world of feline health, there are a number of conditions that can affect the quality of life of our beloved companions. One of these conditions, which often goes unnoticed but can have a significant impact on the health of cats, is hernias. In this blog, we will explain in depth what hernias in cats are, how to recognize their symptoms and what treatment options are available to help our feline friends live a happy and healthy life. Let's get started!

What is a hernia in cats?

Hernias in cats are a condition in which the cat's internal tissues or organs protrude through an abnormal opening in the muscle wall or surrounding tissues. This opening can be congenital (present from birth) or acquired due to injury or muscle weakness. Hernias can manifest in different ways depending on their location and severity. It is important that hernias in cats be evaluated and treated by a veterinarian to prevent potentially serious complications.

Types of hernia in cats

Diaphragmatic hernia

This hernia occurs when part of the abdominal contents, such as the stomach or liver, move into the chest through a hole in the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. It can be congenital or acquired due to traumatic injuries.

Perineal hernia

In this condition, part of the large intestine and other abdominal tissues protrude into the cat's perineal area, which is the region between the anus and genitals. It usually occurs in older and neutered cats due to weakness of the perineal tissue.

Umbilical hernia

An umbilical hernia occurs when a portion of the intestine or other abdominal tissues protrudes through a hole in the abdominal wall near the cat's navel. This condition is common in newborn kittens and may close spontaneously or require surgical intervention.

Inguinal hernia

This hernia involves the protrusion of abdominal tissues through the abdominal wall near the cat's groin. It can be congenital or acquired and can cause discomfort and complications if left untreated.

Herniated disc

Unlike previous herniations that involve abdominal tissues, a herniated disc involves the protrusion of intervertebral disc material into the cat's spine. It can cause pain, weakness and neurological problems in the affected cat.

Causes of hernias in cats

Hernias in cats can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Trauma: A hard blow or accident can cause a hernia in a cat. This can occur if the animal is hit by a vehicle, falls from a considerable height, or suffers some type of blunt injury.
  • Congenital: Some hernias may be present from birth due to congenital abnormalities in the cat's abdominal wall. These hernias can be umbilical, inguinal or diaphragmatic.
  • Muscle Weakening: Weakening of the abdominal muscles due to aging, obesity, chronic stress in cats , and chronic illness can predispose a cat to developing a hernia.
  • Excessive strain: Repeated or excessive strain, such as lifting heavy objects, can also contribute to the development of a hernia in cats.
  • Obesity: Fat and obese cats have increased abdominal pressure due to excess weight, which can increase the risk of developing a hernia.

Symptoms of hernia in cats

The symptoms of a hernia in a cat can vary depending on the type of hernia and its severity. Some common symptoms may include:

  • Visible lump: You may notice a lump or bulge in the affected area, which may be more evident when the cat is standing or exerting physical effort.
  • Pain: The cat may show pain or discomfort in the affected area. It may be evident if the area is touched or manipulated.

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  • Lethargy: Cats with hernias may often show signs of lethargy or lack of energy due to discomfort associated with the condition.
  • Changes in behavior: The cat may show changes in its usual behavior, such as avoiding movement or playing, or adopting abnormal postures to alleviate discomfort.
  • Vomiting or lack of appetite: In severe cases, a hernia can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting or lack of appetite due to abdominal discomfort.
  • Difficulty breathing: In the case of a diaphragmatic hernia, the cat may have difficulty breathing due to compression of the lungs by abdominal organs displaced into the chest cavity.

How to diagnose a hernia in cats?

Diagnosing a hernia in a cat usually involves a combination of common steps such as the following:

  • Medical history: The veterinarian will begin by asking questions about the symptoms you have observed in your cat, any history of trauma or previous surgery, and any other relevant medical problems.
  • Physical examination: The veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination of your cat, paying special attention to the area where he suspects the hernia might be. He or she will look for signs of a lump, tenderness, pain, or any other abnormal change in the look or feel of the abdominal wall.
  • Imaging tests: In many cases, imaging tests such as x-rays, ultrasounds, or computed tomography (CT) scans can be used to confirm the presence of a hernia and evaluate its location, size, and severity. These tests can also help determine if organs or other tissues are displaced through the hernia.
  • Blood tests and other tests: In some cases, blood tests or other tests may be performed to evaluate organ function and rule out other medical conditions that may be contributing to the cat's symptoms.

Treatment for hernia in cats

Treatment for hernia in cats depends on the type and severity of the hernia, as well as the individual needs of the animal. In many cases, especially if the hernia is small and not causing significant discomfort, the veterinarian may opt for a "wait and see" strategy, closely monitoring the cat for any changes in its condition. In more severe cases or when the hernia causes symptoms such as pain, difficulty breathing, or vomiting, surgical treatment may be necessary. Surgery usually involves repairing the hernia and returning the displaced organs or tissues to their normal position.

Caring for a cat with a hernia

Caring for a cat with a hernia may vary depending on the type and severity of the hernia, as well as any specific treatment it has received:

  • Rest: It is important to provide the cat with a calm and comfortable environment where it can rest and recover. Limit physical activity such as cat games to avoid any extra exertion that could worsen the hernia.
  • Medication: If the cat experiences pain or discomfort, the veterinarian may prescribe pain relievers or other medications to help control the discomfort and promote comfort during recovery.
  • Feeding: Be sure to provide a high-quality, balanced diet that meets the cat's nutritional needs, such as cat milk or a barf diet . If necessary, your veterinarian may recommend dietary changes to aid in the healing process.
  • Avoid stress: Minimize the cat's stress during the recovery period. Maintain a calm environment and pay attention to interactions with other animals and people that could cause stress.

Can a cat live with a hernia?

In some cases, a cat can live with a hernia without experiencing significant problems, especially if the hernia is small and does not cause discomfort. However, it is important to note that hernias can worsen over time and potentially lead to serious complications, such as intestinal blockages or strangulation of the herniated organs. Therefore, although a cat can live with a hernia for a period of time without apparent symptoms, it is advisable to seek veterinary care to evaluate the condition and determine if treatment is needed.

Can hernias in cats be prevented?

While some hernias in cats may be congenital and therefore difficult to prevent, there are measures such as those mentioned above that can help reduce the risk of developing acquired hernias.

Conclusion

In summary, hernias in cats can be the result of a variety of factors, such as trauma, muscle weakness, obesity, or congenital anomalies. While some hernias may be asymptomatic or manageable without surgical intervention, others may require medical or surgical treatment to prevent serious complications. It is essential to watch for any signs of a hernia in your cat and seek veterinary care for proper diagnosis and treatment. Maintaining a safe environment, controlling weight, and providing regular veterinary care are important steps in preventing and managing hernias in cats, ensuring their long-term health and well-being.


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