So you have just brought home a new kitten. Congratulations! Make sure to schedule their first vet checkup, as well as routine exams going forward. To help you prepare, our Santa Barbara vets discuss what to expect at your kitten's first visit.
When you bring a kitten home, you must get it examined by a veterinarian. This is important not just for the health of your kitten, but also to guarantee that it does not share any communicable infections. If the kitten exhibits any signs of illness, such as watery eyes, sneezing, trouble breathing, or inability to eat, it should be seen as soon as possible.
Do I need to bring anything?
Some things are nice to have ready before the initial checkup, whether you go immediately to the doctor after picking up your new kitten or after a day or two at home. These include:
- Any information and paperwork provided by the shelter or breeder
- Notes of any concerns you have about the kitten
- Stool sample
- Cat carrier
- Cat Treats
If you're taking your kitten to the vet for the first time, make sure to bring any adoption documentation with you. Your veterinarian should also be awaranyd all treatments and immunizations that have already been administered to the kitten. If it is not possible, write down what you were told at the adoption so you don't forget.
What happens during the physical exam?
The staff and veterinarian will ask you about your kitten's history and do a physical examination. They will also search for other parasites like fleas and mites. The vet will examine your kitten's eyes, ears, lips, skin, coat, and entire body. This includes palpating the abdomen to feel the organs and using a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs. A stool sample may also be taken to see whether you have any underlying health issues.
For optimal health, weaning time, and socialization, kittens should be adopted at the age of 8 to 10 weeks. If your kitten is young, especially if it is 6 weeks or under, the vet will need to examine the kitten's nutrition and hydration status and offer any necessary supplementation.
Will my kitten need any lab tests?
Yes, your kitten will likely need both a fecal exam and a blood test.
Fecal Exam: You will most likely be requested to bring a fecal sample from your kitten to your veterinarian for testing for parasites like intestinal worms, giardia, and other potential issues. Because not all intestinal parasites show up on fecal tests and a substantial percentage of kittens have them, your vet may give your kitten a deworming medicine at each appointment. Many parasites can be transmitted to humans, thus it is critical to remove them from your cat.
Blood Test: The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends that all newly adopted cats, regardless of age, be tested for FeLV and FIV. If your kitten is less than nine weeks old, your veterinarian may advise you to delay testing until it is at least nine weeks. If you have other cats in the house with your kitten, keep them separated until they have tested negative in case your new kitten has a transmissible disease.
How much will the first vet visit cost?
The first vet visit, as well as subsequent routine exams, can vary from vet to vet, cat to cat, and pet to pet. For an accurate estimate of cost, please contact your veterinarian directly.
What questions should I ask at my kitten's first vet visit?
Here is a list of questions you can ask your vet during the first visit. Of course, there are a myriad of others you can ask, and we encourage you to do so, but these should start you on the road to responsible cat ownership:
- Is my cat a healthy weight?
- Are they eating the right food and getting proper nutrition?
- Are they sleeping too much or too little?
- What resources are available at this vet clinic? (ex. X-rays, labs, etc.)
- Are there any common parasites or pests in the area? How can I prevent them?
- Is cat insurance worth it and if so, who do you recommend?
- Do you have any grooming recommendations for my cat?
- Are there any vaccinations my cat needs?
- Where are the nearby emergency services for off-hours or holidays?
- What do you recommend for flea and tick prevention?
- How is my cat’s dental health?
- Any cat food label questions such as how to read them, what to look for, etc.