Cats do a fantastic job of taking care of themselves, grooming, playing alone, and letting you know when their immediate
kneads needs aren’t being met. This leads to the misconception that cats don’t need much proactive care–that they don’t need to go to the vet unless something is obviously wrong–but that’s just not the case.
The American Animal Hospital Association recommends cats visit the vet at least once per year for preventive care. If your cat is older than 7 or has specific health needs, they recommend you visit even more frequently than that.
Cats don’t actually have nine lives, so it’s important to keep them healthy and comfortable for the one they have. Prevention and early intervention of diseases such as osteoarthritis, kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, dental disease, and cancer help cats live longer and healthier lives.
An annual checkup likely includes a review of the cat’s recent history, lifestyle, life stage, activities of daily living, general behavior and diet, as well as a physical examination that could include a dental assessment, pain assessment, and body condition scoring.
Your vet will ask to administer any vaccinations or boosters your cat is due for at annual visits. Vaccines are an important part of protecting cats from severe illnesses, just like people. Some feline vaccines are legally required in Washington state, including the rabies vaccine.
New cat and kitten owners are usually bound by an agreement with a shelter to take their feline friend to see a vet after adoption. No matter what, it’s important to establish a relationship with your veterinarian: that way, should a health concern arise, you’ll be an existing client and will be able to get assistance more quickly!
At your initial visit, your vet will talk to you about vaccinations and scheduling. Kittens can begin their vaccines at 6-to-8 weeks old and will need additional rounds in the first few months. If your cat is not yet spayed or neutered, talk with your vet about when to schedule that procedure.
The general guidelines for cat vet visit frequency are:
- 0-1 year: Monthly through 6 months, annually starting at 1 year.
- 1-7 years: Once or twice a year.
- 7+ years: Twice a year unless there are specific reasons to go more frequently.
As always, your vet knows best. If you have any additional questions about how frequently you should take your cat for a visit or if you notice anything of concern, you should reach out to your veterinarian.