“How often do you take a cat to the vet?” If you’re a new cat owner, you’ve likely asked yourself that question. Whether you have an indoor or outdoor cat, you may not know how often to bring them in for a regular check-up or what situations warrant a trip to the veterinarian. When looking at how much a cat costs, vet visits are a large portion of that expense.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended that cats go to the vet at least once a year.1 They may need to visit the vet more frequently if they’re very young, have health problems, require certain vaccinations, or if they’re a senior cat. Let’s take a look at when to bring your cat to the vet and the different types of vet visits to expect.
You may need to take your cat to the vet for a variety of reasons, including:
- Annual wellness exams
There’s no hard and fast rule about when to take your cat to the vet outside of their annual visit, but use your best judgment when it comes to any accidents or illnesses they may face. You may also experience more frequent vet visits if you have an outdoor cat as they’re exposed to more factors that could impact their health, such as other animals, parasites, and vehicles.2
There are a few different types of veterinary visits for cats based on their age. Although cats of any age may end up visiting their regular vet or an emergency clinic due to accidents or illnesses, there are some other distinctions for vet visits for cats at different ages.
Kittens can expect to be in the vet’s office more often for check-ups and cat vaccines. Core vaccines can be administered for kittens as young as 6 or 8 weeks, but may be administered at the 12-week mark and beyond. For vaccines that require multiple doses, you’ll need to schedule multiple appointments every 3 – 4 weeks in order for your kitten to be fully vaccinated.1
At around 6 months to a year of age, your kitten may undergo a spay or neutering procedure. This may be performed at your vet’s office or another clinic, depending on where you live and what procedures your local office can administer. Overall, taking your kitten to the vet’s office at a young age can help them establish a healthy relationship with their kitty physician and could help them get less nervous about the examination experience over time.
Barring any illness or accidents, adult cats typically visit their vet once a year for a check-up. During your cat’s wellness exam, your vet will monitor your cat’s overall health and test for any parasitic infections or other issues your cat may be facing. They’ll also administer any necessary vaccines. Keep in mind that not all vaccines have the same schedule for boosters, so you may have to take your cat to an additional vet visit depending on their vaccination schedule.
Of course, there may be outstanding circumstances when your cat is feeling under the weather, which may warrant additional visits outside of their wellness exam. You can schedule these appointments with your local vet. They’ll likely run diagnostic tests, fecal exams, or other tests depending on the concern. However, if your cat’s health is dire, you may need to visit an emergency clinic.
Senior cats — or cats older than 11-years-old — may also visit the vet more often than the average healthy adult cat. Outside of their annual wellness exam, you may consider adding a second annual visit to monitor any health issues or identify any underlying issues early. If you have an established vet, they’ll be able to track changes to your cat’s health and identify if they develop hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, or other health concerns as a senior.
Although additional visits can be an added cost, it may give you extra time with your furry friend by potentially catching health issues in their early stages.