As a proud pet parent, you know that the responsibility of your cat's health and wellbeing lies firmly in your hands. You've researched the best foods, carefully set out and chosen the best litter and litter box, and bought all the interactive toys and cat trees you can afford. You may feel really satisfied with yourself for being a natural at this pet-parenting thing.
Your next and arguably the most crucial task is to ensure that you're tending to your cat's health in partnership with a reputable veterinarian, not just in those moments of worry and emergency, but as a preventative measure to ensure your cat is thriving.
Admittedly, the process of taking a cat to the vet can be traumatic across the board. It's distressing for your sweet feline to brave all the strange sights, smells, and unfamiliar territories of a trip to the vet – from the car ride there, the hissing and howling, and the smell and sounds of all those other pets at the vet's office. And, of course, as a parent, it's upsetting and stressful for you to have to put your darling through the ordeal.
Given all this drama and stress, giving the vet a miss can be tempting until there's really something to treat. But regular vet visits are essential and should be done regularly. But what does 'regular' mean? How often should you take your cat to the vet?
While there's no hard and fast rule, how often you take your cat to the vet will depend on your cat's age and lifestyle, but below we've laid out some general guidelines for when to take your cat to the vet.
How often should I take my kitten to the vet?
When to take a kitten to the vet? Young kittens will need to see a vet slightly more often than adult cats, mainly to receive their essential vaccinations.
The first batch of vaccinations is given between six and eight weeks six and eight weeks, with the second round following about three or four weeks after that. At three months and again at six months, further vaccines are administered.
After the age of six months, your cat is old enough to be spayed or neutered, and it's also around this time that you can microchip your pet.
So, within the first year of your kitten's life, they'll be at the vet a fair bit to make sure they get the best start in life.
How often should I take my adult cat to a vet?
Adult cats (between the age of one year and seven) will need fewer regular visits than kittens. The general rule of thumb is that cats should see a vet at least once a year, even if they are in perfect health.
It isn't always easy to see if your cat is unwell as they tend to hide it well, so regular visits can help pick up any hidden problems, or even those symptoms that seem normal to the untrained eye but may indicate something more worrying.
An annual wellness check is essential to catching any potential problems early, receive any vaccine boosters required, and provide an excellent opportunity for you to chat with the vet about any concerns you may have. These annual checkups will also ensure your cat's teeth and gums are in good health.
If your cat is an outdoor cat, there are more concerns, including increased risks for parasites. That doesn't mean that indoor cats can slack off on their vet visits – obesity and weight gain are extremely common in indoor cats, particularly those that have been sterilized.
Keeping up with regular visits to the vet will also keep your cat in the routine, so it becomes less traumatic for them over time. There are many ways to help your cat through the anxiety of a vet visit.
How often should I take my senior cat to the vet?
By the age of around seven, your cat enters its senior phase and should visit the vet slightly more often. Instead of just once a year, it's recommended to get a checkup every six months.
It's likely that by its senior years, your cat will need more medical attention to keep them healthy and well as they age. You'll need to pay more attention to your cat's health and observe any changes that may be cause for concern.
While this is good practice at any stage of your cat's life, it's much more crucial as your feline ages. Contact your vet as soon as possible if there's anything out of the ordinary that worries you.
By this stage in your cat's life, if you've been maintaining a regular vet visit schedule, your cat may be more used to regular checkups, and the process can be much less traumatic for you both.
When to take a cat to the vet immediately
Preventative care is always preferable to reactive care, so the more wellness checkups your cat makes to the vet, the higher the likelihood of you picking up issues early on. One of the best approaches to stress-free preventive care is to check with a qualified online veterinarian.
But if you spot any of these symptoms in your cat, don't wait until your next checkup. The following are signs of potentially serious problems and require an urgent visit to the vet:
- Changes in appetite
- Limping or awkward movement
- Changes in stool or urine
- Avoiding contact with people
Visiting the vet is not something that should only be reserved for times of illness, emergency, and concern. If you regularly visit a qualified professional, you'll likely be able to pick up and prevent any serious issues before they escalate.
Building a strong relationship with your vet will not only help your cat but will also provide you with a trusted resource to turn to in times when you're concerned about your cat. Over time, your vet will come to know your cat and their medical history, and this insight can be beneficial in spotting when something is amiss.