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What is Hernia Repair?

A hernia occurs when an opening develops in the muscle wall that allows internal organs to slip through. Signs of hernia include a swelling or protrusion in the groin or abdomen, vomiting, loss of appetite, and lethargy. They can occur as the result of trauma from an accident such as a motor vehicle accident or a fight with another animal, or as a result of a genetic defect. 

Genetic defects resulting in a hernia include an opening in the muscle wall or an area of weakness in the muscle wall that, when put under stress, allows an opening for abdominal organs to protrude. Hernias can be complicated or uncomplicated. Complicated hernias occur when complications to the hernia such as infection, obstruction or strangulation occur. A strangulated hernia is the result of the internal organ tissue penetrating the muscle wall and becoming trapped in the muscle wall. Circulation is cut off, tissue dies, and toxins are released by the dead and dying tissues. Uncomplicated hernias occur when organ tissue can slip back and forth freely through the muscle wall.

All hernias require attention by a veterinarian. Sometimes an uncomplicated hernia can be treated by pushing the internal organ tissue back through the muscle wall, however, there is a risk of recurrence, and often surgical repair of the muscle wall is recommended to prevent this. If the hernia is complicated or the organs can not be returned to the abdominal cavity or are continuously slipping through the muscle wall, surgery by your veterinarian to repair the hernia is required. 

Hernia Repair Procedure in Cats

Some hernias are treated by pushing the internal organs back through the muscle wall, if the muscle wall closes back up and heals after organs are returned to the abdominal cavity, this may be all the treatment required. However, there is a high risk of recurrence, so repair of the muscle wall in these cases may be recommended. Small openings in the muscle wall can be more at risk of strangulation and may need addressing surgically with the same urgency as larger openings.

If organs can not easily be returned to the abdominal cavity or the hole in the muscle wall remains, or if complications such as infection, blockage or strangulation are occurring, your cat will require surgery to repair the hernia.

Your veterinarian will perform a urinalysis, blood chemistry, and blood count to determine the  overall health of your pet and treat any conditions required prior to surgery if hernia repair is not urgent.

You will be required to have your pet fast and restrict fluid the night before the surgery. When you arrive at the veterinarian they will use intravenous anesthesia to put your cat into a deep sleep prior to inserting a tracheal tube that will be used to maintain the anesthesia with gas. The area to be treated surgically will be shaved and cleaned and surgical drapes used to maintain the sterile area for surgery. 

Your veterinarian will perform surgery to return abdominal organs to abdominal cavity and ensure that abdominal organs are viable, that is, have not been damaged. Damaged organs and tissue will be repaired as necessary and the gap in the muscle wall closed. Closing the gap in the muscle wall may be done with existing muscle tissue, or a synthetic surgical mesh may be required if the opening is too large or if tissue has died and needs to be removed. Sutures to close the incision in the skin will also be put in place. 

Antibiotics may be administered prior to surgery and post-surgery to treat or prevent infection if deemed necessary. Your cat will be required to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent them licking or biting the incision or sutures. 

Pain killers will be administered to your cat post-surgery and cage rest prescribed. Usually postoperative care is straightforward and your pet will not require long term hospitalization after surgery.

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Efficacy of Hernia Repair in Cats

If hernia is treated non-surgically there is a high risk of recurrence. Surgical hernia repair is usually straightforward, and the outcome is a permanent resolution of the hernia. There are rarely complications from surgical repair of hernias. 

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Hernia Repair Recovery in Cats

If hernia surgery was performed to repair your cat’s hernia, you will need to monitor the surgical incision for redness, soreness or discharge that may indicate a postoperative infection or bleeding that would indicate hemorrhage. Any medications prescribed post-surgery, such as painkillers, anti-inflammatories or antibiotics, should be administered as directed. Your veterinarian will book a follow-up appointment within 1-2 weeks to check the surgical site for healing, address any concerns, and remove sutures if required. Usually cats recover from corrective hernia surgery with no complications but if strangulation or other complications have occurred your cat may not be as quick to recover. You will need to restrict your cat’s activity for several weeks following surgery.

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Cost of Hernia Repair in Cats

Cost of hernia treatment in cats when the organs are pushed back through abdominal wall is minimal, but as this may not be adequate to prevent recurrence, surgical hernia repair may be recommended. The cost of hernia repair can range from $500-$2,000 depending on the cost of living in your area, any complications, and the type and location of the hernia. 

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Cat Hernia Repair Considerations

If your cat’s hernia is treated non-surgically there is a high risk of recurrence. Most cat do very well after hernia surgery and complications are minimal. Postoperative complications can occur, including postoperative infections, hemorrhaging, and rupture of sutures, but careful monitoring by the veterinarian and pet owner will minimize this risk. With hiatal hernia repair, there is a risk of aspiration which could result in pneumonia. Pet owners should be vigilant for signs of pneumonia if hiatal hernia repair is performed on their cat. It is common to repair non-urgent hernias at the time of spay or neuter if possible to minimize the need to anesthetize your cat.

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Hernia Repair Prevention in Cats

Many hernias are caused by genetic defects in the muscle wall or genetic weakness in the muscle wall. If this is the case your veterinarian will recommend spaying or neutering to prevent this genetic anomaly being passed onto offspring. Indoor cats are less prone to accidents such as falls from trees and motor vehicle accidents, as well as fights with other animals. Restricting or monitoring outdoor activity will greatly reduce the chance of a trauma that could result in a hernia.

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Hernia Repair Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Tabby cat

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Six Months

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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Swelling Bulge Of Wound

Hi she got spayed then pulled out her stitches and then formed an umbilical hernia. Took her in to get that fixed and she is now healing but it is very swollen again and I’m not sure if I should be concerned. Almost the size of a golf ball. Wound looks a bit open.

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. Scar tissue can form at the site of an incision, and that might resolve. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Tiger

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Siberian

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17 Years

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Moderate severity

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Hiatal Hernia confirmed in my elderly cat, he swallows frequently and purrs with a loud whistling sound, he's on steroids currently. He still eats, drinks, and uses the litter box, but energy is low. Would you pursue surgery, or is it cruel at his age?

Sept. 5, 2018

Tiger's Owner

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Kaida

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dsh

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4 Months

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Mild severity

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5 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hernia

My kitten got his umbilical hernia repaired durning his neuter about a week ago, it was pretty big at the time of operation. Now there is a lump about the same size, but it feels different. It feels like the loose skin is filled with a firm ball. Is this normal? His stitches look fine, and he doesnt mind if I touch/squeeze it. I dont know if I should be worried or not. Is this just normal swelling?

Aug. 18, 2018

Kaida's Owner

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5 Recommendations

Any large swelling is not normal after surgery/hernia correction, sometimes a seroma may form but are usually small; you should keep an eye on the swelling and return to your Veterinarian for a check to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 18, 2018

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Veda

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Russian blu

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2 Months

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Fair severity

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Bruising

Went to vet after 2 month old kitten got injured by dog was told that she has a hernia by her left back leg my question is if surgery is only option she shows no signs of pain or anything

July 5, 2018

Veda's Owner

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2 Recommendations

Sounds like an inguinal hernia which are uncommon in cats, but usually occur due to trauma; whilst there may be no issues at present, there is always the risk of abdominal contents passing through and becoming strangulated which then becomes a medical emergency. It is always best to get these repaired sooner rather than later as it is easier and significantly cheaper than if it turns into an emergency; however I will note that some cats may live their whole life with a hernia without incident. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 6, 2018

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Sir Lancelot

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Dom

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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Shortness Of Breath

Diaphragmatic hernia repair was done 6 weeks ago on my 4 year old cat. Just had heart scan for a murmur only to find fluid and part of the liver in his chest cavity. Advised to re scan in 2 weeks. Why would this happen. He’s a rescue and been with us for 2 years. If he has another operation would this reaccur....he is well in himself...eating, toilet, playing and affectionate.

June 17, 2018

Sir Lancelot's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Generally diaphragmatic hernias are caused by either a congenital defect or a traumatic injury; however the success rate of the surgery is high and recurrence rates are low. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.acvs.org/small-animal/diaphragmatic-hernia

June 18, 2018

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Baya

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Bombay

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4 Years

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

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Hernia

My 4 year old cat got spayed 5 days ago and all went well except two days ago i noticed a lump under her incision and i took her to the vet who said it Was a small fat hernia and reopened her to fix it,now she is spending two nights at the vet because it’s the weekend where i live and i can’t pick her up immediatly..what should i be expecting during her recovery? What signs should i look for?and most importantly will she be okay??She’s like a daughter to me and i love her so much i can’t help but stress about everything.

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Finnegan

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domestic short hair

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Two Months

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Moderate severity

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Post-Op Recovery

I have a two month old kitten I just adopted from the local shelter. During the neutering, they discovered a hernia and surgically repaired during the operation. We took him home the following day. He thrashes himself around when he’s in a kennel and seems to be one of the most hyperactive cats I’ve owned. I am incredibly worried, as he poses a threat to his own recovery regardless of whether he is contained or not. There is not check up scheduled as it was performed by the shelter and minimal information regarding recovery was given. Please help! Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/cat/treatment/hernia-repair

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Angel

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Simeese

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10 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

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Bloody Sack

We have a 10 year old cat, Angel. After we moved houses, we noticed there had been some swelling around her anus area and we thought it was nothing so we ignored it. Then we noticed swelling around her lower abdomen area. Then about 3-ish weeks later (yesterday) I noticed HORRIBLE things. I’m guessing it is a hernia but it’s very red (almost like bloody) sack that’s around that same spot and it’s worrying me to death. I’m so scared for her and have no clue what’s going on. We wanna get her fixed but we barely have any money because of the sudden move. She’s also bleeding from that same spot so she’s getting worse. I’m very worried for my baby, and we are thinking about putting her down but I have no idea what’s going on with her, please anyone with experience help us! She’s getting worse day by day, not in any pain though. I hope she’s okay. Please anyone with any help, answer ASAP! Thank you.

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Jinx

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Russian Blue

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

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Loss Of Appetite

I adopted my cat from the shelter. The cat had a hernia that they told me was a result from the spayed procedure. They said they would fix it because they were responsible. The cat didn’t do much, just layer around and hardly ate. Took the cat in for corrective surgery. First day back she was a different cat. Running, jumping and eating so much food. About 4 days into recovery she went back to laying in one spot and now barely eating at all. She is becoming skeletal like. I took her back to the vet and they don’t know what’s wrong. Was told hernia reopened, cat has upper respiratory infection. Cat tried throwing up twice but produced nothing. Just an hour ago she fell over and started twitching, legs got stiff and tail started twirling. Then got up and started walking like a robot. I need advice!!

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Precious

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Tortie shell

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

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Vomiting

My 3 year old female cat had hernia surgery a month ago. A week after the surgery was done, she has vomited every single day at least once or twice in the mornings. One day she vomited exactly 5 times. I've took her to the vet several times and I'm getting nothing but the same. First he thought it was a hair ball problem, then it was her food which btw shes been on since I got her from the mama cat. The next thing he said was the litter, she just recently a few days ago started to eat a few pieces daily. Now he gave me a medication called albon to coat her digestive system. If this doesnt work, the doctor said he's gonna have to put a tube in her to see how her body is reacting to food. I've tried to explain to the doctor that she was the happiest non sick cat until the surgery. A week after the surgery, shes vomited every single day. Shes lost weight and she just looks at you really sad. She was also diagnosed with dermatitis . You can barely touch her back without her getting very upset. Her whole back is scabby and solid red. The doctor said there was nothing he could give her. I've tried everything along with the hundreds of dollars in bet bills. She was diagnosed with dermatitis not long I got her from the mama cat. I've been to several vets to see about different opinions but I can't seem to get the right ones

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