Last Updated on July 8, 2021 by Jenny
How often do you take a cat to the vet? Is it normal if you only see the vet once every couple of years? Or should your vet visits be more regular, to ensure that your cat is happy and healthy?
It depends on the age of your cat. A kitten needs regular visits for various reasons, while for junior cats up to 2 years you should schedule a checkup with a vet every 6 months. For older cats, you can reduce these to once a year, until a cat becomes senior when twice-yearly visits are again recommended.
And then, of course, you’ll have any extra visits to treat any unexpected illnesses or injuries.
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Why do cats need regular vet visits?
Cats need to be checked over by vets at various stages in their life for various reasons. There are the normal steps in getting your cat properly cared for, and then the checks for any signs of ill-health that you might not be able to detect on your own.
At 8 weeks, if you’re going to get your kitten vaccinated, then that’s when vaccine injections will begin, which will last until around 16-20 weeks. But as well as the regular kitten vaccinations, the veterinarian will also do a full health check during each visit to make sure that the kitten is developing properly and showing no signs of unexpected illness.
It’s around the 16 week mark that the discussion will also be had around neutering the cat. There’s a lot of discussion around the right age to neuter your cat but doing it early can make sure that the cat doesn’t develop certain unwanted behaviors that are associated with reaching sexual maturity.
You should expect to see the vet every 1-2 months when you have a kitten.
Regular vet visit schedule for junior and adult cats
Once the cat reaches six months old, you shouldn’t need to make as many regular visits to the vet. Every six months is around right – this means you can keep up with any further vaccinations, have a weight check and keep on top of dental health. The vet will also look at preventing disease from any parasites and monitoring any behavioral issues, as well as ensuring they are enjoying healthy nutrition – this is a good time to discuss the cat food you’re feeding your animal and whether you need to tweak their diet.
After the cat turns 2 years old, it’s considered a full adult cat by a veterinarian and regular visits can be scaled down to once a year. During these visits the vet is again simply checking the cat’s health, and as it gets older they’ll look at how to reduce the risk or, or manage, age-related diseases and health problems.After the cat turns 2 years old, it's considered a full adult cat by a veterinarian and regular visits can be scaled down to once a year. Click To Tweet
Does an outdoor cat need extra vet visits?
You might not need to make extra visits to the vet with your outdoor cat, but you may need to make sure that your regular checkups include additional treatment tailored to cats who live an outdoor lifestyle.
This, in particular, relates to feline leukemia, which is a serious illness that can be vaccinated against. All cats, whether they’re an indoor cat or outdoor cat, are given shots to counter this disease until they’re one year old, but after that only cats that spend time outdoors will likely need an annual booster.
There are arguments too that it can make sense to take outdoor cats for more regular visits because a pet owner spends less time with their cat. Without being able to monitor their normal behavior, it’s harder to spot when something is wrong. Extra visits to the vet can ensure that anything wrong is caught early enough and treated, even if you haven’t spotted the signs yourself due to a lack of time watching their usual behavior.
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How often should an older cat visit a vet?
When your cat gets older – probably from around 11 years on when it would be considered a senior cat – it’s time to start increasing the number of times you visit the vet for a routine checkup. Going at least twice a year is a good idea.When your cat gets older - probably from around 11 years on when it would be considered a senior cat - it's time to start increasing the number of times you visit the vet for a routine checkup. Click To Tweet
By this time, your cat is going to be more at risk of a number of diseases as they get older and their immune system starts to weaken. Your veterinarian might carry out extra checks around this age too, including taking urine and blood samples as standard, and measuring your cat’s blood pressure.
Elderly cats need specialist veterinary care to protect them, particularly as they get very old. Geriatric cats – those aged 15 and older – are more susceptible to common illnesses and as your cat reaches a certain age you will need to start using your regular vet visit to discuss end of life care.
When are the other times to visit a veterinary clinic?
There are other reasons you may wish to schedule a visit to your vet as a concerned cat owner. If it’s your first pet, you might be concerned about how to trim the cat’s claws. It’s fairly simple to trim the claws yourself, but many a pet parent lacks the confidence to do it for the first time on your own. It’s an important part of keeping your pet healthy so break out the cat carrier and pay your vet a visit if you need help learning how to do this – once you’ve been shown, you’ll be able to do it yourself with no trouble.
Beyond the yearly checkups for a wellness exam or vaccination, you might want to visit the vet clinic if you notice a change in your cat’s behavior. If they go from being super-active to docile, or they suddenly have energy to burn, or even if they just stop using their litter box like they normally would, it’s worth finding out why.
Keep an eye on your cat’s gums too. Dental health is extremely important for your pet and you don’t want to have a cat’s tooth removed because you’ve missed the early signs of gum trouble as it can impact their quality of life quite drastically.
Basically, any time that you think something might be wrong with your cat, it’s a good idea to get them checked over. It might be nothing but you don’t want to risk the health of your animal companion because you hesitated. Pet insurance is a good idea since it’ll mean you’re covered for any unexpected vet costs, whether it’s a serious respiratory infection or it just turns out to be a flea problem.Basically, any time that you think something might be wrong with your cat, it's a good idea to get them checked over. Click To Tweet
On top of the emergency visits, keep those yearly checkups booked (or more frequent, depending on the cat’s age) and you’ll know that you should be able to catch any illnesses early and keep your kitty in tip-top condition, and treat anything with the highest chances of success.
So how often do you take a cat to the vet? Are you super-eager to have your cat checked over, or have you let it slip? Leave a comment below.