Umbilical hernia in cats: recognize symptoms

If the inner abdominal wall layer has not completely closed after birth, one speaks of an umbilical hernia in cats. Symptoms depend on how big the gap in the abdominal wall is. You can observe a small umbilical hernia at first, but the fastest possible operation is necessary for a larger gap. In most cases, umbilical hernia in cats has existed since birth - Shutterstock / Elnur

If your cat has a bulge at the level of the navel, it may be an umbilical hernia. Find out exactly what that is, what the causes are and how you can best behave when you discover umbilical hernia symptoms in your cat.

What is an umbilical hernia in cats and how does it develop?

In the case of an umbilical hernia, a distinction is made between the hernial portal, the hernial sac and the hernia contents. The hernia marks a gap in the inner abdominal wall layer. The remaining layers of the abdominal wall push outwards through this gap and form a bulge called a hernial sac. The contents of the hernia collect in the hernial sac - this is mostly tissue. However, if the gap in the inner abdominal wall layer is quite large, parts of the intestine can slide through and become trapped so that the blood circulation is interrupted at this point.

In most cases, umbilical hernia in cats has existed since birth. After a kitten is born, its mother bites off the umbilical cord and the gap in the abdominal wall layer gradually grows into connective tissue. But sometimes this natural process doesn't work, so the gap remains and an umbilical hernia occurs. There is rarely a gap in the inner abdominal wall layer in adult cats. The tendency towards umbilical hernia is inheritable, and weak connective tissue can also increase the risk of developing it as a fully grown animal. The trigger can then be, for example, an injury or pregnancy.

Umbilical hernia in cats: symptoms and course

The hernial sac can be recognized as a bulge on the cat's belly in the event of an umbilical hernia. Depending on how large the gap in the inner abdominal wall layer is, the extent of the bulge varies approximately between the size of the hazelnut and the walnut, rarely larger. You may not see the umbilical hernia in cats immediately because the hernia sac is covered when lying or sitting. But the bulge is also easy to feel - it usually feels firm and cannot be moved. A sagging stomach may appear as an accompanying symptom.

A small umbilical hernia can enlarge over time, especially if the cat in question is still growing. If the hernial sac is so large that parts of the intestine are pinched there, this becomes apparent through symptoms such as loss of appetite, reduced or missing droppings and abdominal pain. You can tell your cat's abdominal pain from the fact that it is bent and in a tense position.

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When should a cat with an umbilical hernia go to the vet?

At the latest when the symptoms indicate that the umbilical hernia has increased dangerously, you should immediately take your cat to the vet. As long as the bump is small and your cat is normal and alert, you only need to watch the umbilical hernia. Can the bulge on the navel be dented without causing pain to your cat? In this case you can still wait. Otherwise, regardless of the size of the bump, it says: Off to the vet!

Treatment: Fracture gate is closed with surgery

To correct the umbilical hernia, the veterinarian must put your cat under anesthesia and first open the entire abdominal wall. Then he sews the gaps in the inner abdominal wall layer - he uses self-dissolving threads - and also closes the outer abdominal wall. After six to eight weeks, the threads on the inner abdominal wall layer have dissolved and the gap has grown together. The outer cut has also healed and the seams or staples have been removed.

If the umbilical hernia does not cause any symptoms and is relatively small, you can wait until the cat is neutered before the operation. In the case of female cats, the abdominal wall has to be opened anyway and then your pet only has to endure the hardships of anesthesia and surgery once. When neutering male cats, only the testicles are removed and the abdomen remains closed, but a combination of both operations can also make sense here, since only anesthesia is then necessary.

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