If you’re a new cat owner who’s doing some research on your recently-taken-in pet – welcome to the family!
Thinking of adopting and doing some research on how frequently you should take a kitty cat to the vet before you dive into pet ownership? Good on you for being so proactive!
Been a cat owner for some time and just want to double check you’re visiting the vet as often as you should? Again, good on you for being a responsible pet owner!
Now let’s start tackling this question, because it’s definitely an important one. How often you should take your cat to the vet depends almost entirely on two different things.
The first is the age of your pet. In terms of age groups, there are three within your furry friend’s life. Each requires a different frequency of vet visits per year.
The first age group includes kittens, which are cats aged 0-1 in human years. The second feline age group includes adult cats. This age range includes cats from age 1 to typically 7-10 in human years. The rate your cat ages is dependent on breed, as some feline breeds age faster than others. Finally, the third age group includes elderly or senior cat, which are cats over 7-10+ in human years.
I’ll get into the different frequencies and how often you should be taking these age groups to the vet in depth in the first section of this article. In the second, I’ll be addressing the other important thing that effects the frequency of vet visits: health concerns. Essentially, if your cat has a medical condition, it might be beneficial for you to visit the vet more frequently.
Finally, if you have any concerns – worrying behavioural changes, things that appear to you as though they might be symptoms of an underlying condition – you should see your vet straight away and make sure to communicate each and every factor you think might help in diagnosing your pet.
With cats, as with humans, the faster you catch things the easier they typically are to remedy and set straight – so act as soon as you can if this is the case.
I’ve included some tips on getting your cat’s vet visit, and going to and from the vet as easy as possible – as I think these will help and they’re so easy on your part to do, while simultaneously making your life easier by not having an anxious pet on your hands for vet visits.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, or if you have any stories or tips for other pet owners on frequency of vet visits over the years. Taking the time to leave your thoughts will be greatly appreciated, not just by me, but by all those who stumble upon your comment and find it relevant, helpful, or even entertaining if you have a funny story to share! Let’s dive into the frequencies by age to begin…
How Frequently Cats Should See the Vet Part I: Age
Again, the three age groups we’ll be talking about include:
- Kittens: Aged 0 to 1 in human years
- Adult cats: Aged 1 to 7-10 in human years (this is breed dependent)
- Senior cats: Aged 7-10+ in human years (again, breed dependent)
Let’s start with the kittens and work our way up!
Kittens: Felines Aged 0-1 in Human Years
When it comes to kittens, you’re looking at visiting the vet approximately once every 6 months.
The best resource I’ve found describing what the context of vet visits would look like by age comes is the article How Often Should Your Pet See a Veterinarian? by by Linda Formichelli for Fetch by WebMD.
Here’s what this source says about kitten vet visits:
Cats will get tests for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. They also get vaccinations that cover several diseases. At this stage, your pet will also start heartworm and flea- and tick-prevention medications, if they’re recommended for your area. The vet will examine your pup or kitten to make sure he’s growing well and shows no signs of an illness. She’ll check again at around 6 months, when you bring your pet in to be spayed or neutered. “We’ll also check to see how housebreaking, training, and socialization are going,” Barrett says.
Hence, in that first visit, your kitten will get vaccines and tests. In the second visit, your pet will be ready to be neutered or spayed and there’ll be talk of how behaviour and socialization is going on, to see if there’s any concern on that front.
To my knowledge, if you took in a kitten from a shelter, say, or from some other source where the kitten was already spayed or neutered, you would only be going in to the vet’s once that first year, though don’t quote me on that.
No matter what, call up your vet and ask him or her when he or she thinks would be a good time to visit, and if you need to make multiple visits, how far they should be spaced apart.
Other than that, it seems to me that’s all for kittens so long as there are no medical conditions (which we’ll discuss more later) or concerning behaviours to worry about. So onto the next stage of a cat’s life…
Adult Cat: Felines Aged 1 to 7-10 in Human Years
Throughout an adult cat’s life, it’s ideal to visit the vet approximately once every year.
Again, going back to that incredibly helpful article, here’s what those visits are like:
During this stage, vets recommend yearly checkups. The doc will give your pet a head-to-tail physical. […] The vet may recommend other tests based on any problems your pet has or anything unusual she sees during the exam. Distemper-parvo and rabies booster shots happen during the first yearly checkup, then usually every 3 years after that. How often animals get rabies boosters depends on state law. […] [O]utdoor cats should get feline leukemia vaccines. It’s helpful to bring in a stool sample from your pet, which your vet will check for intestinal parasites.
So once your cat has reached adulthood, he or she goes in for yearly check ups, initially getting a physical, a rabies shot, and feline leukemia vaccines.
My guess is a lot of vets will also give a parasite treatment/de-worming pill or shot as well as some other things that weren’t discussed outright in this article.
After that first year, there are boosters for shots that happen at yearly check ups as well as physicals.
At those yearly check ups, it’s a good idea to bring up any concerns you might be having – again – about your pet’s behaviour that might seem to be a little odd or out of place. Anything and everything you worried about, bring up to your vet. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
And now for the final stage of a cat’s life…
Senior or Elderly Cat: Felines Aged 7-10+ in Human Years
Senior or elderly cats should be going to the vet approximately once every 6 months.
Although with a kitten, the spacing can depend on when it’s ideal for a cat to have their spaying or neutering surgery, for senior or elderly cats, it’s advisable to go in for a typical check up every 6 months, as it’s easier to make sure they’re in good health when they have regular physicals.
Back to the article mentioned twice before for a description of what happens at these two-times-a-year check ups:
Vets suggest twice-yearly checkups for older pets. Your cat or dog will get vaccinations when needed and will get a thorough physical exam, along with tests to follow up on any problems. Blood and urine tests can give your vet the scoop on your pet’s kidney and liver health, thyroid hormone levels, and more. Mention any changes you’ve seen in your pet — if, for example, your cat is drinking more water or your dog is no longer excited by his daily walks. These can be signs of a new problem such as kidney disease or arthritis.
So your vet should be closely monitoring an elderly cat’s kidney and liver health, as well as thyroid and hormone levels to make sure everything in that department is a-okay.
How Often Cats Should Go to the Vet Part II: Health Concerns
If your cat has any type of health problems, from recurring UTIs, to heart murmurs, to a thyroid condition – your vet’s likely going to advise you to come see him or her more frequently to make sure everything is running smoothly with his or her medical issue.
You’re likely also going to be advised to monitor your pet for particular symptoms that might arise from his or her condition, and if you notice these flare up, you should bring your pet in to the vet immediately.
If your vet hasn’t told you how frequently to see him or her considering your cat’s medical condition – please take a moment to ask. Your vet would absolutely know best how often is fine. That might be the standard/default unless an issue crops up, it might be more frequently just to be safe.
Extra Visits to the Vet: When You See Strange Behaviour & Symptoms Go Straight Away
It’s ridiculously important to watch for odd behaviours, and if you spot them, giving context to your vet could really help in diagnosing any medical problems.
Like cat barbering or over-grooming to the point where your cat balds or scratching to the point of bleeding, for instance. Does this happen at a certain time of day? Was your cat doing something right before this happened – eating, say? This tip could help your vet diagnose an underlying food allergy.
There are also odd behaviours that might crop up that you may feel are nothing, but actually are indicative of trouble. Take tooth grinding, for instance. It’s usually a sign your cat’s in pain, and could mean your cat has dental issues.
All this to say, even if your cat’s behaviour change seems like it’s practically nothing, like a single accidental urination on the bed one evening, it’s still incredibly important to point out to your vet, as it could indicate an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed.
The sooner you catch things, the better chance your vet has of fixing it, and the sooner your cat can return to being the picture of perfect health. Don’t take chances, it’s better to say too much than too little.
Tips for Taking Cats to the Vet
Making the Trip to and From the Vet as Easy as Possible
There are two elements to taking your cat to the vet – besides actually being there – that are stressful for a cat.
The first? That gosh-darn carrier.
The second? The oh-so-dreaded car.
The remedies? Well, they’re a little time consuming, but they cost nothing, and are ever-so-easy to implement.
- Here’s the full guide on how to train your cat to be less anxious in carriers.
- And here’s the full guide on training your cat to be comfortable & calm in cars.
Please take the time to read over and implement as many strategies as you can for both. Not only is it beneficial every single time you have a vet visit, but it’s also helpful in case there’s ever an emergency – like (heaven forbid) a fire and you need to evacuate all your pets. Yowling and screaming is not the ideal in an already stressful situation like that.
What to Tell Your Vet When You Get There
In terms of things you’ll want to tell your vet when you go visit, while that’s a separate article in and of itself, I think this Pet MD article does a great job bringing up some of the most important points in these 10 questions:
What are your concerns about your cat? 2. Has your cat been treated for an illness or injury before? 3. What other animals does your cat come in contact with? 4. What type of food do you feed your cat? 5. How often do you feed your cat? 6. Measure the amount of food you feed your cat. How much does your cat eat and drink? 7. Does your cat take any supplements (even in treat form)? 8. Does your cat throw up, have diarrhea, cough, or sneeze? What are all the details of this? 9. Have any of your cat’s eating, playing, grooming, or sleeping habits changed recently? 10. Do you know when your cat was last vaccinated and what for?
Need to write things down before your vet visit to make sure there’s nothing you forget? Definitely take the time to do it!
Your Thoughts on Frequency of Cat Vet Visits?
Do you have any thoughts, opinions, or stories related to frequencies of vet visits you can share with us?
Do your cats have any underlying medical conditions and if so, how often does your vet advise you visit? Did he or she advise you to go in more often, or just to watch for flare ups, behavioural changes, and potential symptoms, and to go in when you notice any of those?
Love to hear what you have to say, and I’m sure other pet parents would appreciate learning from your experience, in the comments down below!
I fully comprehend that this post may be like a loud stereo in a library but I must speak up with a little truth.
I never ever bring my cat to the vet. In my opinion cats are animals just like a mountain lion with the exception that my cats’ prey is limited and so I must feed it. I don’t bring mountain lions to the vet and neither should my cats go. I’ve seen a cat with a gash put in its throat by another cat so deep it almost was to its esophagus; very deep and wide. Half the neck was gone on that little cat. I would think it would bleed to death. Nope. It was closed in three days and fully healed in about two weeks. Honestly, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was so fast.
That cat wanted nothing to do with any remedy I attempted to give it. And quite frankly, it was right. It had zero problem healing from the most serious wound I’ve ever seen a pet have. It hardly acted any different than normal.
I can see a reason to put a cat out of its misery if it has heinous wounds from some dreadful accident. Other than that, they take care of themselves, or they die. Such is life. There is too much attachment to ideas and too much fear of death in this world.
In the extremely unusual case I would bring a cat to a vet, it would only be for removing the ovaries and uterus on a female (which I can barely stomach the idea or the practice of at all but I know of no other non-chemical method to not have a trillion cats where once there was one – though I only adopt strays so they’ve always had the operation done already), or some other physical-only implementation. Under no circumstances would I allow someone to force a cat to have a chemical put in its body except for during the physical procedure. My cat decides just fine what is appropriate for itself, and then it dies. I just hope I allowed it to have a life free to do what it wanted. That’s more than most people have.
And for those who are going to be thinking I’m a hypocrite, I haven’t been to the doctor in 30 years, with the exception of some sewing up I needed a couple times from two motorcycle accidents (and I didn’t have anyone around that knew how to do it themselves).