Here, our Santa Barbara vets explain why bringing your cat to the vet is so important, and how often you should take your cat to the vet for a checkup.
The Importance of Cat Wellness Visits
If your cat or kitten appears to be perfectly healthy you may be wondering why you would bother heading to the vet, but when it comes to preserving your cat's long-term good health annual wellness exams are essential.
Taking your cat to the vet even when they seem healthy provides your vet with an opportunity to monitor your cat's health, provide essential preventive care such as routine vaccines and parasite prevention, as well as a chance to look for any developing issues so that they can be treated before they become more serious concerns.
So, what will your vet do when you take your cat in for a wellness exam?
What To Expect at Your Cat's Wellness Visit
A cat wellness exam is much like the annual physical checkups that people get from their family doctor. And also much like people, the types of checks, tests, and vaccines given at each cat wellness exam will depend upon the overall health and age of your feline friend. Below is a bit about what you can expect at your cat's wellness visit throughout their lifetime.
Your Cat's First Vet Visit
Kittens should have their first visit to the vet when they are about eight weeks old. During this initial visit, your adorable four-legged family member will receive a complete physical examination to assess their overall health, look for signs of any congenital defects, and check for external parasites. Your vet will administer deworming medications to deal with potential roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms and your kitty's first round of vaccinations. Finally, your vet will perform a blood test to check for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.
5 - 6 Month Kitten Booster Shots, Reproductive Surgery & Microchipping
Throughout your kitten's critical first year of life, you will return to your vet periodically for checkups and receive their vaccines. These next checkups typically occur at about 12 weeks, and 16 weeks of age. Your cat is not protected against Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia, Chlamydia, Feline Leukemia, or Rabies until they have received all 3 rounds of their vaccines.
At about 5-6 months old our vets recommend that you have your kitten spayed or neutered. These common reproductive surgeries help to reduce the number of homeless cats in Santa Barbara area shelters and can prevent several serious conditions including certain types of cancers.
At this age, you may also want to consider having your kitten microchipped. Microchips are a great idea if your kitty will be allowed to roam outdoors freely and can help you to find your beloved cat if they become lost or stolen.
Adult Cat Vet Visit Schedule
When you take your cat for their adult wellness exam your vet will review your cat's medical history with you and ask if there is anything about your kitty's health or behavior that you are concerned about. Your vet will also ask you about your cat's diet, lifestyle, level of thirst, and litterbox habits.
Your vets may request that you bring along a fresh sample of your cat's feces (bowel movement) to check for intestinal parasites.Next, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your cat which typically includes:
- Weighing your pet
- Checking the cat's stance and gait for irregularities
- Examining feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
- Listening to the animal's heart and lungs
- Looking at your cat's skin for issues such as dryness, parasites, or lumps
- Inspecting the overall condition of your kitty's coat, looking for dandruff or bald patches
- Checking eyes for redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Examining ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Looking at your cat's teeth for any indication of periodontal disease, damage, or tooth decay
- Feeling along your cat's body (palpating) for signs of illness such as swelling, evidence of lameness such as limited range of motion, and signs of pain
- Palpate your pet's abdomen to access whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
All of these checks and more can be done quickly and seamlessly if no issues are detected along the way. Your vet will likely even maintain a conversation with you as they go along.
Annual vaccinations will also be given at your pet's wellness exam, based upon the appropriate schedule for your animal.
Wellness Exams for Senior Cats
Preventive and proactive care is essential to helping senior pets live healthy and happy lives. Bringing your senior cat to the vet for regular wellness exams allows your vet to detect conditions in their very earliest stages (when they are most effectively treated), and provide proactive treatments to help keep your kitty comfortable and slow the progression of age-related issues.
Common age-related conditions in elderly cats include osteoarthritis, cancer, heart disease, degeneration of sight and hearing, as well as diabetes, liver and kidney disease, and urinary issues.
When you bring your senior cat to our Santa Barbara vets for a geriatric wellness exam, we will perform all the routine checks given to all adult cats but also examine your cat for signs of developing age-related health issues. In some cases, based on your vet's findings, additional diagnostic testing may be recommended.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to caring for your cat throughout their lifetime, annual cat wellness exams offer your kitty their very best shot at a long, healthy life. Speak to your vet to find out how often your cat should have a checkup.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.