Pets are wonderful to have. They bring so much value, meaning, and happiness to our lives. In turn, it is our duty to take utmost care of them; keep them healthy, and give them the best life. For this reason, it is necessary to take your cat for regular health check-ups. However, there is some confusion about how often do you take a cat to the vet. To answer that, here is all the important information you need about cat health check-ups and their frequency.
Know When to Take Your Cat to the Vet!
Actually, vet visits and their frequency depend on how old your cat is and what her overall health is like. As a general rule, you should get your cat checked every six months or at least once a year, even if they show no health issues at all. The same goes for dogs and other home pets too.
Kittens – Frequent Vet Visits are Required
Kittens are more vulnerable and require extra attention and care. If you’ve recently adopted a kitten from a shelter or picked one up from the streets, the first step is to immediately take her to the vet. Pet odor is a common issue in street cats along with ticks so a vet visit is a must. Similarly, if your adult cat has recently given birth, it is a good idea to ask a vet to visit the newborn kittens at home to check up on their health.
Kittens need repeated vet visits for the first 16 weeks or 4 months of life. Ideally, you should take them to the vet clinic every 3-4 weeks or at least once a month, for up to a year.
As I said earlier, kittens have no immunity at all and are thus very vulnerable. To strengthen their immunity, vaccinations are of utmost importance. During a vet visit, a kitten will be given 1st dose of various vaccinations. Following are some core cat vaccinations that your kitten needs at all costs. Skipping even one can prove to be dangerous for their life.
- Feline Calicivirus (FCV)
- Feline Herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1)
- Feline Panleukopenia (FVRCP)
- Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)
Kittens can start receiving vaccination at 4 to 6 weeks old. Booster shots for each vaccination are generally administered every 3 to 4 weeks until the course is completed. There are some non-core vaccines for cats as well. Your vet will decide whether your kitten needs it or not depending on the risk.
Additionally, your kitten will be given a complete head-to-tail check-up to identify any sign of infection, disease, or other health disorder. Usually, they get checked for parasites through stool examination and dewormed during these visits as well.
Similarly, if you’re new to owning pets and perplexed by kitten behaviors like kneading, scratching, or zoomies, it is a good idea to consult with your vet regarding the causes behind it. It will help you understand your cat better, communicate with them more effectively, and cater to their needs.
Adult Cats – Annual Veterinary Check-ups are Essential
Cats are considered adults when they are one year old. From 1 year to 10 years are their adulthood years, and they have different needs during this period. If your cat is growing up healthy and shows no obvious signs of ill health, it is safe to take them to the vet once a year.
The veterinarian will perform a comprehensive full-body physical examination on your cat in order to detect any hidden disorder and check overall health. They might also update their vaccinations and recommend some extra vaccines for added protection.
A one-year-old cat is eligible for spaying or neutering, so your vet might recommend the surgery at this stage after confirming the health condition of your cat as well. Moreover, the vet will check your cat’s oral health as well. Usually, it is at this stage in life that cats start suffering from oral health conditions like plague, gingivitis, tarter, etc. Some even start losing their teeth. At the same time, if your adult cat is playful in heat and mud then you can take it to the vet to remove pet odor.
Senior Cats – Health Check-ups Twice a Year are Recommended
Cats older than 10 years old are considered senior or geriatric cats. They start suffering from numerous diseases and health disorders related to old age, therefore, it is recommended that you take them to the vet every 5 to 6 months. Report any changes in your cat to the veterinarian for proper diagnosis. For example, if you observe your cat drinking more water than usual, it could be an indication of feline diabetes or kidney disease in your cat.
Likewise, arthritis is very common in senior cats too. If you note your cat being reluctant to jump or walk stiffly, it could be a sign. Your vet will check your cat and perform various blood tests, urine analyses, and stool inspections to detect these conditions.
Prepare your Cat for Significant Life Changes
In addition to regular visits, it is recommended to schedule a vet visit before significant life changes. For example, if you’re moving houses or shifting to another state, it is a good idea to consult your vet about whether your cat is able to adapt to the new place, new environment, and new weather. Plus, you can get advice on how to help your furbaby adjust to this sudden change and how to make your new home safer for your cat.
Another major life-changing event is pregnancy. Since cats become aggressive towards pregnant women, it is a good idea to consult your vet about the reasons behind this behavioral change in your cat. Plus, how you can protect yourself from feline aggression and also help your cat adapt to the new addition to the family.
Why Regular Vet Visits are Important for your Pet?
Regular vet visits are really important for the health and overall well-being of your cat. You can provide your cat the required medical help as they grow older in order to improve their lives and mitigate discomfort & pain. Plus, it helps catch a life-threatening disease at an early stage before it is too late.
Besides, you should know how to take care of a cat, and who better to tell you that than a professional doctor? Taking care of pets includes:
- A proper nutritional diet for optimal mental and behavioral well-being of your cat.
- Protecting them against fatal diseases through vaccinations.
- Regular check-ups to ensure their overall health is good.
- Learning the possible reasons behind problematic behavioral changes, which might be a sign of distress and pain in your cat.
- Giving a safe and engaging indoor environment to keep your cats mentally stimulated and healthy.
A vet can help you with all of this and more, emphasizing the importance of regular vet visits.
Things to do Before Making a Vet Visit
As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to observe your cat for any stranger or unusual behavior. It is good to take note and consult with your vet on these matters during regular vet visits. This might also signal when to take your cat to the vet. That’s why here are some things you should do before your vet visit.
- List down all the questions you have regarding your cat.
- Note the names and doses of any medication your cat is on. Additionally, any nutritional supplement you’re giving your cat.
- You should also know the brand of cat food you’re feeding your cat. Plus, in the case of homemade food, remember all the ingredients as well as the quantity; your vet might ask for that.
- Take pictures or make videos of any behavioral change that occurs in your cat.
Emergency Signs That Require an Urgent Vet Visit
Unfortunately, there are times that require emergency vet visits. Despite all your knowledge about how often to take a cat to the vet, these moments catch us unaware and unprepared. That’s why, always be on the lookout for behavioral changes in your cat, as well as eating & drinking habits, plus any signs of discomfort or pain. Additionally, if you notice any of the following signs and symptoms, immediately take your cat to the vet!
- Loss of appetite, eating little or not eating at all
- Constipation or straining to poop
- Drinking a lot of water
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Eye or nose discharge
The Bottom Line
Undoubtedly, pets are precious to us. They bring so much joy and meaning to our lives. It is only right that we do the same for them. Pets look to us for sustenance, warmth, connection, affection, and all of their physical and emotional needs. That’s why as pet owners, it is our duty to take care of all their needs, take them for regular vet visits, get them the help they need, and make their lives comfortable.