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Umbilical Hernias

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have a cat living with a non-repaired umbilical hernia?

Belle and Delilah both had them when I got them. Belle's was tiny and was gone by the time they got spayed. Delilah's was not large, but was to be fixed when she was in for her spay surgery (in July...she's now 10 months old).

When I picked her up, I assumed all was done, although I found it odd that she didn't have a bigger scar. I couldn't feel the hernia anymore. However, by the time they went back to get their stitches out, I could tell the hernia was "back". I asked the vet about it and he said that when they did the spay surgery, they could not locate the hernia. He said he felt around and he had a couple of the vet techs search around and they couldn't find it. So, he said he didn't want to open her up more if there was no hernia/it was so small that they couldn't find it.

The vet said that since it was so small, he wasn't worried about it. However, if it got larger, he would fix it for free. That is the last time the girls have been to the vet. Since the vet isn't concerned, I've never been all that concerned and figured I'd keep an eye on it and unless I notice a change, I'd follow up on it when it's time for their one year boosters.

However, my vet recently retired. His practice is still there, overtaken by the other vet that had recently joined the clinic. I have no idea if he would uphold Dr. John's promise to fix the umbilical hernia for free, although Dr. John did direct the vet tech to make a note about it in her file.

In any case, the cost is not really the issue (but, I wouldn't mind opinions on whether the new owner should uphold the old promise), so much as the fact that I don't really want to put her through another surgery and recovery if it is not necessary. I check her belly pretty much everyday...her hernia has not gotten any larger, and somedays it is less noticeable than others. It doesn't appear to cause her any pain, as she lets me touch it and press on it without complaint.

I've read a bit about it and intestinal strangulation and I don't know how big the hernia would need to be for this to occur. So, I was wondering if there was anyone out there with cats living with umbilical hernias without any complications?

I'm a little annoyed that I'm still worrying about this months after it was supposed to be taken care of...but oh well!
post #2 of 2
People live long, healthy lives with umbilical hernias that never cause symptoms, and never need to be repaired. Other people have tiny umbilical hernias that can be reduced by manual manipulation. The third type of umbilical hernia, incarcerated and/or strangulated hernia, is a medical emergency. It is caused by a loop of bowel that gets caught in the abdominal wall defect. When it can't be reduced, it is called incarcerated. If the blood supply to the bowel is compromised, it is called strangulated. Here is a link that describes hernias (in humans) that can explain some of the signs and symptoms to watch for.

The major difference between cats and people, is that people can exacerbate the hernia by lifting and straining. I don't think that lifting and straining are issues that cats deal with. Unless the hernia is quite large and unsightly, I doubt that anything needs to be done surgically about it. Actually, a larger opening in the abdominal wall is less likely to become incarcerated or strangulated. It's the smaller ones that are the tricky ones. Learn what symptoms to watch out for, especially nausea and vomiting. Observe how your kitty reacts to you touching the area. If anything changes, don't hesitate to seek the advice of your vet.
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