You've just welcomed a new kitten into your home - congratulations! Now, scheduling your kitten's first veterinary appointment and planning regular check-ups is important. To help you prepare, our Stockton vets discuss what to expect at your kitten's first appointment.
When you bring home a kitten, it's important to have a vet check it. This is important not only for your kitten's health but also to ensure it does not share any communicable infections. If the kitten shows signs of illness, such as watery eyes, sneezing, difficulty breathing, or inability to eat, it should be examined as soon as possible.
Do I need to bring anything?
Some things are nice to have ready before a check-up, whether you go immediately to the doctor after picking up your new kitten or after a day or two at home. These include:
- Any information and paperwork provided by the shelter or breeder
- Notes of any concerns you have about the kitten
- Stool sample
- Cat carrier
- Cat Treats
When you're bringing your new kitten to the vet for the first time, remember to bring any adoption paper. It's important that your vet knows about any previous treatments or vaccinations your kitten has received. If you can't remember, jot down the information you were given during the adoption process to be safe.
What happens during the physical exam?
When you bring your kitten to the vet, they'll talk to you and check your kitten's health. They will also look for other parasites, such as fleas and mites. The veterinarian will examine your kitten's eyes, ears, lips, skin, coat, and entire body. This includes palpating the abdomen to feel the organs and listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. A stool sample may also be collected to determine whether you have any underlying health problems.
If your kitten is 6 weeks old or younger, the vet will pay extra attention to their food and water needs and might give extra help. Kittens should ideally be adopted between 8 to 10 weeks old for their best health and socialization.
Will my kitten need any lab tests?
Yes, your kitten will likely need both a fecal exam and a blood test.
Fecal Exam: You will almost certainly be asked to bring a fecal sample from your kitten to your veterinarian for testing for parasites such as intestinal worms, giardia, and other possible issues. Because not all intestinal parasites are detected by fecal tests and a significant percentage of kittens have them, your vet may administer deworming medication at each appointment. Many parasites can be transmitted to humans, so removing them from your cat is critical.
Blood Test: The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends that all newly adopted cats, regardless of age, be tested for FeLV and FIV. If your kitten is less than nine weeks old, your veterinarian may advise you to delay testing until it is at least nine weeks. If you have other cats in the house with your kitten, keep them separated until they have tested negative in case your new kitten has a transmissible disease.
How much will the first vet visit cost?
The cost of your first vet visits and check-ups can differ depending on your specific vet and your pet's individual needs. For an accurate cost estimate, please contact your veterinarian directly.
What questions should I ask at my kitten's first vet visit?
Here is a list of questions you can ask your veterinarian during your initial visit. Of course, there are many more questions you can ask, and we encourage you to do so, but these should get you started on the path to responsible cat ownership:
- Is my cat a healthy weight?
- Are they eating the right food and getting proper nutrition?
- Are they sleeping too much or too little?
- What resources are available at this vet clinic? (ex. X-rays, labs, etc.)
- Are there any common parasites or pests in the area? How can I prevent them?
- Is cat insurance worth it, and if so, who do you recommend?
- Do you have any grooming recommendations for my cat?
- Are there any vaccinations my cat needs?
- Where are the nearby emergency services for off-hours or holidays?
- What do you recommend for flea and tick prevention?
- How is my cat's dental health?
- Any cat food label questions, such as how to read them, what to look for, etc.