HEALTH & CARE

How Often Should You Take Your Cat to the Vet: The Healthy Kitty Journey

Closeup of a cat getting checked by doctor with stethoscope
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

If you want to be able to enjoy your cat’s company longer, aside from providing nutritious food, shelter, love, and attention, you will have to keep a close eye on their medical needs. As they say, prevention is better than cure. Keeping your cat’s body and mind free of any sicknesses by way of frequent vet check-ups is one of the easiest ways to ensure that they will live a long, healthy life. But different cats in different life stages have different requirements for medical assistance. So exactly how often should you take your cat to the vet in order to make sure they are well-maintained without going overboard?

Like people, there are two instances when your pet would need the attention of medical experts—during emergency situations and for routine checks. Emergency situations are the bane of any pet parents’ existence. Not only do they usually catch you off-guard, but they also tend to be much more severe and perilous to your cat’s prolonged existence. Our goal is to help you create a good schedule of routine checks so any budding illnesses or conditions can be caught early to prevent the occurrence of emergency situations.

A cat at the vet for a eyes control

It is normal to be worried about your cat but still feel confused about taking him to the vet. Is it really time to take the cat to the vet? Or will you be stressing your cat out even more by taking them to the vet when there’s actually nothing wrong with them? This article will help you determine when it’s time to get expert help or when to just be patient.

The Frequency of Vet Visits

Are you usually able to tell if your cat is in good health or feeling under the weather? It’s actually quite easy to tell the difference. Here are some indicators of a healthy cat:

  • Bright and clear eyes. Healthy cats usually have bright and clear eyes. If there are discharges around their eyes, have the cat checked as these may be symptoms of bigger health issues.

  • Good digestion. Cats should be able to dispose of waste regularly, and their stool should be small and firm. This means that the cat is retaining nutrition from the food they are fed with. As the owner, it also helps to feed the cat with proper food especially if he has a sensitive stomach.

  • Healthy teeth. If your cat’s teeth are free of tartar and plaque, then he is healthy. Cats with unusually yellow or dark teeth may be unhealthy. The cat’s gum should also be bright pink, and the breath should not be too offensive.

  • Shiny coat and skin. The cat’s skin and coat are huge indicators of their health. If the skin is dry, it can be an indicator of a health problem or lack of grooming. A healthy cat also has smooth hair that is free of flakes, mats, and lice.

  • Great energy. Be glad if your cat is playful and active because this means that the cat has great overall health.

If your cat is showing all of the aforementioned signs, then great! That means you’re taking a really great care of him. But even if your cat seems all right on the outside, it doesn’t mean that you should skip routine vet visits.

the cat controling a cats teeths

Non-emergency vet visits allow you to prevent the occurrence of any unwanted emergency frenzies. How many different types of non-emergency vet visits are there? How frequently should you take your cat to the vet for routine check-ups? We’ll explain all that in the section below.

Non-Emergency Vet Visits

Even if your cat is not sick, there are still times when you would need to take him to the vet. Your veterinarian can help determine if your cat is in tip-top shape or if further investigation into their condition is required. In these non-emergency visits, the cat should be relaxed as the vet performs tasks such as:

  • Routine Checks: Even if your cat is healthy, it is still important to see the vet regularly. Regular checks look into a cat’s physique—namely weight, height, coat health, teeth, pest infestation, and others. Sometimes, the vet could also demand some laboratory tests just to make sure everything is well.

  • Immunization: Cats need to visit the vets for their immunization. This is a bit expensive, but a cat owner should invest in vaccines that will protect the cat from serious health problems.

  • Grooming: Cats, especially the furry type, need constant grooming. While there are some grooming shops available, there is nothing quite as precise as the attention that vets give.

The debate on the frequency of meeting your vet depends greatly on the life stage of your pet:

#1: Kittens, from Birth to the 1st Year

Kittens are still very fragile and their first month is the best time to gear them up for the coming months. During the first few months of the cat’s life, they will need more trips to the vet because this is the time to work on preparing him for the tougher health problems that he may face later on.

ginger kitten at the vet for a regural control

Owners need to take them to the vet every 3 to 4 weeks in a span of 16 weeks for their vaccination. At around this time, they would also have to be tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.

#2: Adults, from the 1st to the 10th Year (Depending on the Breed)

When the cat becomes an adult, a yearly check-up is recommended. The lessening frequency means that the cat has successfully passed the delicate stage and is doing well physically. At this point, a yearly checkup would be enough to help determine any problems that may or may not be life-threatening.

Veterinarian Examines an Adult Cat

During annual checks, the doctor will give a head-to-tail physical exam. Blood tests may also be demanded to determine the overall health of the cat. Sometimes, the vet would ask for other tests if there is anything unusual in the cat’s physical condition. Cats may also get booster shots in the first yearly check up and every three years after that.

#3: Seniors, the 10th year and beyond

For older pets, vets would suggest a checkup every six months. The cat will get vaccinations when needed and would also go through physical exams. The vet would also conduct a test for problems if needed.

Senior cat sitting on vets table

It is best to bring stool and urine samples so it will be easier for the vet to go through the tests. As the owner, you must also share some of your observations on what the cat’s drinking, eating, and other habits are.

Emergency Vet Visits

Routine checkups should be able to keep your cat safe from any major health issues. But then there are also times when you find your cat in emergency and sometimes life-threatening situations, such as:

  • Breathing Difficulty: If you notice that your cat is wheezing, coughing, gasping, making abnormal respiratory noises, or breathing funny, then make sure that you take the cat to the vet right away. It only takes three minutes for the situation to be fatal.

  • Urinary Tract Problems: Urinary obstruction is a common condition that could be fatal if not treated. If you notice that your cat is spending way longer than normal in the litter box or if there are spots of blood in the pee clumps, take him to the vet immediately.

  • Severe Pain: Pain is a serious condition that warrants treatment right away. It could also be an indicator of more serious problems. If you notice that your cat is howling, panting, or overreacting if an area comes in contact with anything, it would be best to see the vet as soon as possible.

  • Diarrhea and Vomiting: It is normal for cats to vomit (mostly hairballs) or have soft stools from time to time, but if blood is present, it’s an emergency situation. Diarrhea poses a serious threat as it can lead to dehydration.

  • Toxins: Ingestion of toxins especially chemicals found in the house can be fatal. Immediate medical attention is needed to save the cat’s life.

  • Seizure: Seizures can be a symptom of serious problems like exposure to toxins.

  • Major Trauma: Cats can face life-threatening situations which may result in gaping wounds, massive hemorrhage, and broken bones. These usually happen when the cat got in an accident or fights with other cats.

If you ever find your cat in these situations, make sure to take him to the vet as soon as possible.

Woman vet examine a kitten

Be it for routine checkups or in emergency situations, each of these vet visits greatly contribute to the overall well-being of your pet so you should not skip these. But what do you do if your cat absolutely despises being taken to the vet?

Preparing Your Cat for a Veterinary Checkup

Cats, like kids (or adult humans), can also feel anxious whenever they needed to see the doctor. There are easy ways to prep up your cat for a vet visit.

  • The first thing to do is to pet the cat. Giving him a regular head-to-tail carress will help reduce the stress he feels. It will also be easier for you to command the cat to go inside the carrier if he is relaxed.

  • Train the cat to be accustomed to being inside a carrier. If he only gets inside it to see the vet, especially when he is in distress, he will associate it with unpleasant things and resist it more and more. Give them fond memories of being inside the carrier to earn the trust of the cat.

  • Most cats don’t like riding in a car. To ease the anxiety that cats feel inside cars, you should first have driving drills. Taking short drives around the block. Gradually increasing these will ease the tension that cats feel when they are inside cars.

  • Lastly, help the cat relax at the vet by spraying some pheromone spray. This contains a synthetic scent that cats rub against each other to reinforce their social bonds. Having this will help them feel calmer.

It can’t be avoided that you will also feel anxious or stressed especially if the cat resists getting inside a carrier. Vet visits can take a toll on you, too. Making sure that you are well-prepared for a trip to the vet will not only help your cat—it will help you, too.

Getting Cat Insurance

Knowing how often you need to take your cat to the vet is just the tip of the iceberg. As you know, having a cat is not a very easy matter. You have to be emotionally and financially ready. A dilemma of many cat owners is whether to get insurance for their cats or not.

Ginger cat beeing examinated to teeths by the vet

Pet insurance shares many features with the health insurance that humans enjoy. The policies which are typically paid every month or annually can be used to pay veterinarians, clinics, and hospitals. There are also some insurance providers that cover catastrophes.

The average cost of veterinary pet insurance is only $21.00 per month. This amount can help mitigate the cost of veterinary services throughout your cat’s lifetime.

Wrap Up

You may feed your cat with all of the nutritious foods that you can find, and you always make sure that they stay in the house to avoid accidents or to keep them from being exposed to the elements and harmful viruses or bacteria. But these things are not enough as your cat will still sometimes feel sick.

To make sure that they will live a long and healthy life, vet visits are a must. Regular vet visits should be a habit to develop because it will help assess your cat’s health and reinforce your efforts to keep them healthy.

Veterinarian examines adult cat

Routine checks are scheduled and are often handled by a vet you regularly meet. Emergency situations, on the other hand, are not planned, so it helps to have a map or contact number of the nearest veterinary hospital.

Although it may be an anxiety-filled experience, prepping your cat for vet visits would make the experience easier for the both of you. How often do you take your cat to the vet? How do you usually prep your cat for a vet visit? Please share your experiences or tips and tricks in the comments section below!

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.

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