Did you recently get a new little friend and are constantly worrying about his well being? Let me tell you, we have been there! Is he eating too much? Too little? Does he have a drinking problem? A good way to answer all the questions you might ask yourself is to regularly complete a professional check up and make sure everything is in order with your beast. It is very hard to detect a potential disease in your cat on your own, however, a regular visit to his favorite doctor could greatly simplify the task.
Frequency of vet consultations
Every cat is different so know that if your cat is more fragile or suffers from a specific problem, the frequency of consultation might be more important. Our suggestion is designed for the average healthy cat.
Kitten: from 0 to 1 year
- Once a month for the first 4 months
- One more time at 6 months
Adult: from 1 to 7 years old
- Once to twice a year
Senior: from 7 to 10 years old
- Twice a year
Older cats: >10
- 4 times a year (once every 3 month)
Try to keep a notebook or folder with your beast’s records. This is what we do for our Yoda, it enables to keep track of everything while making sure we can provide relevant information for future examinations.
Vet consultations in detail
In this section we go into more details about why a check up should be encouraged and what happens during those check ups. You can start with this introductory video.
It is important for very young cat to get a very regular check up: once every month during the first four months. The reason behind this is quite simple. At this early stage of his life your kitty needs his first vaccinations and first illness controls (he will normally be tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus).
At this stage your cat will also need to start heartworm and flea/tick prevention medications.
At 6 months, another check up will occur combined with the necessary chop chop (spayed/neutered)*.
*If you are adopting from a shelter, it’s necessary for the kitten to be spayed/neutered before you can take it home. Yoda needed this procedure before we were allowed to take him home, for example. We adopted him at around 10 weeks of age, so the age can vary 2-6 months but first check with the local shelter and/or your veterinarian to be sure.
For every check up, even if it is for a specific vaccination, your vet should proceed to a control of normal growth and that your little buddy is showing no signs of diseases.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommend a check up every 6 months as a best practice. Although it is acceptable to only go once a year, they advise to go to the vet more often: anticipation is key in the treatment of any disease. God knows that cats are good at hiding their problems, sometimes.
The vet will also proceed with the necessary vaccinations for your cat’s health.
Senior (7-10) and older cats (>10)
As your cat ages, it is important to increase the frequency of the visits (from twice a year up to four times a year) as problems may occur on a more regular basis. It is essential to be proactive if you want to increase your cat’s chances to live a longer and healthier life. Your cat will get a thorough physical examination and new vaccines if needed.
A check up can also consist in blood, urine and stool tests if necessary in order to identify your little friend’s kidney health, thyroid hormone levels, and much more.
What is a cat “check up” anyways?
Here is the list of things your vet will check to make sure your cat is well:
- Vaccination status
- Weight and general body condition (ears, eyes, nose, mouth and dental care, skin, coat, nails)
- Good digestion
- Heart and respiratory rate
- Parasite control
- Behavior and personality
This checklist will be supplemented with your answers to the vet’s question. Be ready to answer the following:
- What other animals does your cat come in contact with?
- What type of food do you feed your cat?
- How often do you feed your cat?
- Have any of your cat’s habits changed recently? (eating, playing, grooming, sleeping…)
Being aware of your companion’s life is a must as you can be more accurate in the way you will describe his habits to his doctor.
Which vaccinations ?
Core vaccines are recommended for all cats. The disease they prevent have a significant morbidity and mortality rate and are widely distributed. Addressing those diseases with the appropriate vaccines will give your cat a good protection for a healthy life.
- feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV1)
- feline calicivirus (FCV)
- feline panleukopenia virus (FPV)
Non-core vaccines are optional vaccines that should be considered in light of the exposure risk of the animal, ie. based on geographic distribution and the lifestyle of the pet.
- feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
- feline immunodeficiency virus
- virulent FCV
- chlamydia felis
- bordetella bronchiseptica.
For more information check out the feline vaccination guidelines of the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis.
Check out your beast yoself
Every so often, you can do a little examination of your cat on your own if you know what to look for. Although it does not prevent you from consulting a professional, it helps you regularly monitor the status of your cat’s health. How to proceed ? Check out this pawesome video for additional info.
How much does a cat check up cost ?
What we can tell you is that a trip to the vets can vary a great deal in the prices they charge for office visits. For a regular check up it is safe to expect something between 35 to 70 dollars. However, because it varies depending on your location, it is best to call and ask. In any case, vets rarely accept walk ins so it’s always best to call beforehand.
Just know that the check up cost is just a starting point! Depending on what your vet will recommend (vaccination, further tests…) the bill could be much higher. You should always go prepared and ask in advance the detail for a consultation for your Kitty.
Obvious signs of needed veterinary attention
Basically anything obvious that changes in his behavior should signal a red flag. Here are some good examples:
- Cough or sneeze (frequent)
- Runny eyes or nose
- Your cat drools and stops grooming
- Repeated vomiting and diarrhea
- Trouble breathing with accentuated chest movements
- Yellow mucosal and skin: gums, conjunctiva, ear flap
- Abnormal lump or wart on his skin and specifically near breasts
- Any vaginal discharge: puss or blood
- Any unusual thirst accompanied by a large urine production
- Your cat becomes dirty and does his business out of the litter box
- A cat that constantly returns to his litter box and does nothing or a few drops (risk of urinary stones)
- Your senior cat suddenly bumps into the furniture
How often should I take my cat to the vet for a check up: Final thoughts
Preventive veterinary care can improve the quality of life of your cat. By respecting these simple guidelines of regular check ups, you will ensure that your fluffy friend is healthy and well. Thanks for reading! Do not forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook where you will find all our latest news and articles. 🙂