How to Prepare for Your Kitten's First Vet Visit
Bringing home a new kitten is an exciting and rewarding experience. With their curious nature and cute antics, the first few weeks with your kitten are sure to be filled with laughter and adventure.
Before you bring home your new feline family member, however, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian. Visiting the vet right away helps ensure the health of your new kitten as well as of any other pets already living in the home.
Outside of simply scheduling the appointment, there are a few key steps you can take as a pet parent to prepare for your kitten’s first vet visit. This guide will walk you through them.
Preparing for the Vet Visit
Ideally, their first vet visit should occur before you bring your new kitten home. If that’s not possible, keep your new kitten quarantined in a separate room away from other pets until after they’ve seen the vet. This can help prevent the spread of any diseases while you wait for a clean bill of health.
Once the vet visit is scheduled, it’s time to get ready for the appointment. Preparing can help you feel more relaxed as you focus on keeping your new kitten healthy.
Gather any paperwork you have about your kitten, including any previous medical information and vaccination records.
If you adopted a stray kitten off the street or were not provided paperwork, make a list of everything you o know about your kitten. Items to include are their approximate age, any information you were provided about your kitten’s medical history and anything specific you have observed about their health. This will help your vet determine what tests and vaccinations your new kitten might need.
Additionally, be sure to ask your vet if you need to bring a stool sample to test for worms.
Create a List of Questions
Whether this is your first kitten or you’re an experienced cat parent, don’t hesitate to ask questions. A good veterinarian will be more than happy to provide you with valuable information about caring for your kitty.
Your questions might include:
- What is the best diet for my kitten?
- What vaccinations should my kitten receive during their first year?
- How soon should I return for a follow-up visit?
Write down your questions before your visit so you can be sure to not forget to cover any important topics.
Attending the Appointment
When the day of their vet appointment arrives, you’ll now be ready to put your kitten in their carrier and head to the clinic.
Your visit will likely include some of the following routine services and tests.
During your kitten’s initial visit, your veterinarian will probably want to run a few routine tests. They might include:
Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a disease that only affects cats but can be easily passed from one cat to another. In many cases, a kitten who has FeLV will not appear sick. For this reason, your vet might take a blood test to ensure that your kitten is not carrying FeLV.
Blood tests can also test for heartworms in kittens, and a Complete Blood Count (CBC) test can provide insight into your kitten’s general health, including identifying anemia, dehydration and inflammation or infection. Be sure to ask your vet about the best heartworm preventive for your kitten. If your kitten tests positive for heartworms, your vet will likely prescribe treatment to control inflammation because traditional heartworm treatments are usually not safe for kittens.
Ear mites and fleas are common pests that your kitten can carry. To determine whether your kitten has pests, your vet will perform an examination of their ear canals to look for signs of ear mites and will look over their body for fleas. Both fleas and ear mites can easily spread from one pet in the household to another, which makes it important to treat these pests right away. Additionally, many vets will recommend placing your cat on preventive kitten-safe flea medication to prevent future outbreaks.
While it is not always the case, many kittens have internal parasites, including worms or protozoa. These internal parasites can be identified through a microscopic examination of a stool sample. If worms are detected in your kitten’s stool, your vet will most likely prescribe an anti-parasite and/or antibacterial.
In addition to these common tests, your vet will perform a brief physical examination of your kitten, which involves taking your cat’s heart rate, feeling over specific areas of their body, and taking note of their general alertness and behavior.
In addition to running a few tests, your vet will want to begin vaccinations for your kitten. Depending on their age and what vaccinations have previously been administered, your kitten might receive some of the following vaccines:
This vaccine helps prevent a myriad deadly illnesses in cats, including rhinotracheitis (common feline herpes virus), calicivirus (a respiratory disease) and panleukopenia (distemper).
Most states require pet parents to vaccinate their cats for rabies, a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain and can be transferred through saliva from a pet to a human via broken skin, mucus membranes or through a scratch.
Cats who are exposed to other unvaccinated cats at home or in a boarding facility and those who roam outdoors are at a higher risk of feline leukemia exposure. The FeLV vaccine can help ward off the disease.
Cats who are exposed to various outdoor environments or unvaccinated animals—in a grooming, kennel or daycare scenario, for example—are often required to get a bordetella vaccination.
To learn more about cat vaccination schedules, check out this guide to Cat Vaccination Schedules.
Spaying or Neutering
During your visit, your vet might recommend spaying or neutering your kitten if this surgery has not already been performed. Be sure to clarify with your vet about when it would be best for your new kitten to be spayed or neutered.
Spaying and neutering are important to help prevent unwanted births, cutting down on shelter overpopulation. Additionally, spaying and neutering your cat can prevent unwanted behaviors. For male cats, neutering tends to cut down on roaming, urine spraying and fights. For female cats, spaying prevents the howling associated with being in heat.
Another service to ask your vet to perform at your kitten’s first visit is microchipping. Microchips are implanted by your vet and contain all of your contact information, which makes it important to do for both indoor and outdoor cats. If your kitten ever gets loose, a vet clinic or local shelter can simply scan your cat’s microchip and contact you via the information on the chip.
Arriving Home After
Once your kitten has visited the vet, it is time to bring them home. Preparing your home for your kitten will help them be their happiest and healthiest self.
Interested in learning more about preparing your home for your kitten? Check out the following helpful articles and guides: