Hernias in cats are a lot more common than most owners realize and can be an extremely painful ordeal for your pet, as well as life threatening.
A hernia is described as a bulge or protrusion of an organ in your cat through the structure or muscle that contains it.
There are several different types of hernias, but the most common types are those that occur in your cats abdomen. When this does occur, part of their intestine will protrude through the abdominal wall.
If this occurs in another part of your cat’s body, it is basically the same thing, but it is called something different.
The most common hernias in cats are diaphragmatic hernias and they come in two types.
The other two are less common and include hiatal and umbilical hernias.
By far and away the most common of all hernias in cats is referred to as a Diaphragmatic hernia.
The diaphragm of your cat is a very large muscle that separates both the chest and the lungs from the liver as well as several other abdominal organs.
As this large muscle contracts and then relaxes, it enlarges and then compresses your cat’s chest cavity.
When it performs this motion, it forces the air to move in and then out of the lungs.
Both the breathing capacity as well as ability to breath depends on this function.
However, there are some circumstances that can cause this process tear or rupture, and the result is a Diaphragmatic hernia.
Acquired Diaphragmatic Hernia
The first type of this form of hernias in cats is acquired, which means that something has caused it to develop.
In most all cases, a cat with this type has had some type of trauma that results in a rupture of the diaphragmatic muscle.
It is usually the result of a very severe fall or some type of a blow directly to your cat’s abdomen.
When this does occur, the contents from the abdomen such as your cats stomach and liver are violently forced against their abdomen, which will cause a tear or worse yet, a rupture to occur.
Once this opening does occur, it opens the way for several organs to herniate through this opening.
This can include your cat’s stomach, liver, or intestines, and they will then enter the chest area which places pressure on the lungs.
This now places the diaphragm in a compromised position as it can no longer expand or contract properly.
Most of these injuries occur as the result of your cat being struck, usually by a car, and you may have no idea that it has happened unless you witness the event.
However, there are several symptoms that your cat will show you with this condition.
Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia
The second type of diaphragmatic hernia is congenital, which simply means your cat was born with the condition. When this does occur, kittens are born with an incomplete diaphragm muscle.
, this form of hernia is not the result of any type of an injury, it instead was never properly formed, but the end result is the same.
Although this condition does occur, it is not very common and can easily be diagnosed by your veterinarian as kittens will show similar symptoms.
This form of hernias in cats can show a myriad of symptoms, depending on which organs have actually become affected.
, there are four major symptoms that will occur in most every case. The first will be a gradual difficulty in breathing that is accompanied by rapid breathing.
This is the result of the pressure that is occurring on your cats chest. The next symptom is coughing, which is perhaps the worst sound from your cat.
Coughing in cats is very abnormal and if you ever hear it, you need to take it very seriously as something is terribly wrong.
The final of the four basic symptoms will be a sudden intolerance to any type of exercise because of the difficulty in breathing.
However, there are other symptoms that can develop depending on how other organs are affected.
Your cat may start to vomit, become constipated, and then develop diarrhea.
If the distention is severe enough, your cat may suddenly become anorexic, as they will completely stop eating.
If it is extreme, your cat may actually collapse and then go into shock.
If this does occur, it is now not only a severe condition, it is also life threatening.
The actual risk to your cat will all depend of the severity of the diaphragmatic hernia. If the opening or rupture is very small it can go unnoticed for years and your cat will live a very normal life.
On the other hand, if the opening is large enough, if it is not treated, your cat may die as a result.
This type of hernias in cats is not anywhere near as severe as the diaphragmatic form.
They can also be congenital, but in most all cases they are also caused by a trauma or what is known as a gastroesophageal reflux.
This is a situation where there is backward flow of your cat’s stomach contents into their esophagus.
This type of a hernia can cause esophagitis or an inflammation of the esophagus.
The symptoms with this form of hernia will start with vomiting and usually develop into blood appearing in the vomit as the esophagus becomes damaged.
Your cat may also develop a difficulty in breathing, but nowhere near as severe as with the diaphragmatic form.
Drooling may also occur, which is perhaps the most telling sign that your cat has developed a hiatal hernia.
Although drooling is very common in some dog breeds, it is very uncommon in a cat. If they begin drooling, they most likely have this form of hernia.
The final form of hernias in cats is referred to as Umbilical, and are extremely common in dogs but quite uncommon in cats.
It is a situation where the abdominal contents of your cat protrudes through there abdominal wall at the area of their umbilicus.
Again, if this type of hernia is small it is usually not a major problem at all for your cat.
However, if it is large enough, it will have to surgically redone by your veterinarian in order to protect against intestinal loop strangulation, which can very quickly take your cat life.
There is one major difference; unlike the other types of hernias, this form has no actual known cause.
Hernias in cats can very easily go unnoticed by many owners unless you understand the symptoms.
Vomiting and a difficulty in breathing can easily be confused with an entire litany of other potential health risks.
However, coughing and drooling are not totally segmented to a hernia, but they are almost always signs that your cat has a hernia.