Overview of Umbilical Hernia in Cats
An umbilical hernia is a condition in which abdominal contents protrude through the cat’s abdominal wall at the area of the umbilicus. Small hernias are generally not a problem. It is recommended to electively repair a larger hernia due to the risk of intestinal loop strangulation.
The exact cause of an umbilical hernia is unknown although most are thought to be inherited. It is most commonly a congenital malformation caused by flawed embryogenesis. The umbilical opening is normal until birth as it contains blood vessels that pass through from the mother to the fetus. This opening closes at birth in the normal pet and a hernia results if the opening fails to close.
Umbilical hernias are more common in dogs than cats. They occur on the midline of the abdominal wall through the umbilical ring and can be a variety of sizes from very small to very big. The hernia appears as a soft abdominal mass at the area of the umbilicus. Depending on the size of the opening, abdominal structures such as falciform fat or omentum can float into the opening. This generally does not cause a problem. However, if the opening is large enough, an intestinal loop can become trapped which can become a life-threatening problem. For this reason, it is recommended that larger hernias be closed after diagnosis. This is most often done concurrently with the spay or castration surgery.
Some male dogs with umbilical herniation may also have the concurrent abnormality of a retained testicle, referred to as cryptorchidism.
Some breeds are predisposed to umbilical hernias; including Airedales, Pekingese, and basenji.
What to Watch For
Signs of an Umbilical Hernia in Cats include:
Signs of complications of Umbilical Hernia in Cats include intestinal strangulation. Signs may include:
Diagnosis of a Possible Umbilical Hernia in a Cat
Treatment of Umbilical Hernia in Cats
Home Care and Prevention
Bring your pet to the veterinarian if he has a history of a hernia and if the hernia appears larger, the abdomen is painful or your pet is vomiting, depressed or not eating. These signs can be a medical emergency.
If surgical management is done, watch for potential complications after surgery, including:
Because the condition is thought to be inherited, it can be prevented by not breeding cats with umbilical hernias.