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Broken neck and leg – anyone can imagine something like that. But what is an umbilical hernia and above all: How can you recognize an umbilical hernia in cats? Read below when an umbilical hernia becomes a problem and what to do in an acute case.

Cause: This is how an umbilical hernia develops in kittens

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Experts refer to the umbilical hernia as “umbilical hernia” or simply “umbilical hernia”. The problem mostly occurs in young cats. This is closely related to the cause: After giving birth, the kittens naturally have a gap in the layer of the abdominal wall. After the mother cat has bitten off the umbilical cord, this gap grows together with connective tissue. If it comes to disturbances, the opening enlarges and an umbilical hernia occurs. We call the area free of connective tissue the “hernial portal”. Tissue, mostly fatty tissue, penetrates through them into the “hernial sac” and forms a visible and palpable “bump”.

An umbilical hernia becomes (life) dangerous when parts of the intestine emerge through the hernia and are trapped.

Then it can lead to intestinal obstruction.

Umbilical hernia in adult cats

Adult animals rarely suffer from an umbilical hernia, but it is not impossible. Usually, the cause is a genetic predisposition in the form of a weak connective tissue. Cat breeders should therefore not breed with cats that have already had an umbilical hernia. However, an umbilical hernia can occur in affected animals, especially during pregnancy. Injuries can also result in an umbilical hernia.

Symptoms: “Bump on the navel”

Cat owners recognize an umbilical hernia based on the “hernial sac”: They feel and see a bulge on the cat’s belly. This feels firm, but can usually be moved. In the further course, it can come to a pendulous stomach. If the intestine is involved, the umbilical hernia affects the well-being of the velvet paw. Then there are other symptoms such as loss of appetite, digestive problems, and pain, which can be recognized by a crouching posture or apathetic behavior of the cat.

Therapy: when to the vet?

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If you suspect an umbilical hernia in a kitten, see if the cat is in pain while palpating. If this is not the case and the hernia is smaller than a human finger’s width, you can wait to see whether the gap closes by itself. If the break persists for several days or hardens, take the cat to the veterinarian.

If the umbilical hernia is larger or if the velvet paw is in pain, you should take it to a veterinarian as soon as possible, then there is an acute danger.

Umbilical hernia surgery in cats

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If the gap in the abdominal wall doesn’t close on its own, surgery is the only possible therapy. Adult cats should be operated on immediately; for kittens, it may be advisable to wait and see. With a little luck, the umbilical hernia operation can be carried out at the same time as the castration. Because in female animals, the abdominal wall must be opened for this anyway. Male animals also save on additional anesthesia in this way. During an umbilical hernia operation, the vet opens the abdominal wall under anesthesia and closes the hernial port inside the abdominal wall. The vet uses self-dissolving threads for this. Then he will sew up the outer abdominal wall. These threads have to be pulled again after six to eight weeks. After this time, the umbilical hernia is forgotten in most cases and the cat does not suffer from any restrictions.