When you think of showing love for your cat, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it is a belly rub or an extra treat, it probably isn’t a routine visit to the vet. But, taking your cat to the vet is actually one of the most loving things you can do.
Routine vet visits play an important role in the overall wellbeing of your cat. It's are one of the many ways you can help provide a full and healthy life for them.
Why are vet visits so important? And what can you expect when you take your cat to the vet? To help break down routine vet visits, we talked to Petco’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Whitney Miller. Dr. Miller shared some important insights into why vet visits are integral to your cat’s health and how you can prepare for your next visit.
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Do cats need regular vet visits?
Whether you just welcomed a new cat into your home, or you have been the proud parent of a fierce feline for a while now, you may wonder, "does my cat need to see a vet?"
After all, if your cat is healthy, why take them to the vet?
The reality is that, yes, every cat needs regular visits to the vet—even cats that appear to be healthy and fine.
Proactive care can allow your cat to have the best health possible by catching issues early and potentially preempting any issues before they become serious.
And as Dr. Miller puts it, “Regular vet exams are essential to giving your pet the best care. Even if your pet seems healthy and happy, cats are masters at hiding illnesses and pain. This makes routine exams and diagnostics critically important, so your vet can identify changes in their health early when issues are easier to treat and possibly cure.”
What additional kind of wellness screenings might be a part of a routine vet exam for cats?
In addition to the above head-to-tail exam, your vet might also recommend additional wellness screenings based on your cat’s individual health needs. These could include one or more of the following:
- Blood work and urine test
- X-rays for any concerns or routine screening for diseases, such as certain cancers
- Infectious disease screening for common diseases, such as feline leukemia, feline AIDS and heartworm disease
- Refills or recommendations on pest control and disease prevention
It's also important to note that routine or wellness exams for kittens and senior cats might include additional items targeting their specific age-related health needs.
Additional kitten screenings
During the first year of your cat’s life, they will need special medical exams and care. This might include any of the following:
- Vaccinations at the appropriate times
- Guidance on when to spay/neuter
- Microchipping recommendations
Additional Senior Cat Screenings
For senior cats—cats 12 years and older—it's recommended that you schedule routine exams twice per year.
During this bi-annual cat exam, your vet will look for issues that become more prevalent in older cats, such as the following:
- Urinary and kidney issues
- Thyroid disease
- Dental issues
- Weight gain/loss
- Arthritis and joint issues
How can you prepare your cat for a vet visit?
While taking your cat to the vet is one of the most loving things you can do as a cat parent, it can also feel overwhelming. Not all cats are eager to hop into a carrier and head to the vet. But, as their pet parent, you can help your cat prepare for their next visit to the vet.
Try out a few of the following tactics.
1. Help your cat become accustomed to their carrier ahead of time to reduce stress.
Don’t wait until the day of your cat’s vet visit to place them in their carrier. Instead, start warming them up to their carrier over time.
You can do this by creating a comfortable space in their carrier with blankets and favorite toys. Start with short periods in their carrier in the comfort of home. You can use treats to help reward time spent in their carrier, increasing the amount of time they are comfortable spending in the carrier slowly.
Make sure to never force your cat into their carrier, as this can cause them to associate the space with feeling stressed.
2. Practice short drives ahead of time to reduce stress.
Once your cat is comfortable spending time in their carrier, practice short drives around the neighborhood to help them grow accustomed to leaving the house. Keep the drives short at first, only going a block before turning around. And, make sure to keep rewarding your cat with treats to create a positive association with car rides. Over time, you can slowly increase your distance until your cat remains calm on longer drives.
Making vet visits a routine part of your cat’s life
Vet visits should be a routine part of your cat’s life. Not only can you help contribute to your cat’s health by scheduling ongoing visits, but you can also tackle any questions or concerns you might have as their pet parent.