How often do you need to take a cat to the vet? Surprise surprise!

Cat in bag

How often do you need to take a cat to the vet? We were amazed!

Looking into pet ownership and wondering how often you should take your cat to the vet? Good on you for being so proactive! Have you been an owner of a cat for a while, and would like to double-check how often you visit the vet? Once again, congrats on being such a responsible pet owner!
We should address this question now, especially since it is extremely important. How often your cat should be taken to the vet depends a great deal on two main factors. The first is its age. Within the life of a pet, there are three distinct age groups. Each requires its own frequency of vet visits. Age groups include kittens, which are kittens between 0 and one-year-old in human years. Typically, age two to ten in cat years represents the second feline age group, while cats younger than this tend to age at a slower rate than older feline breeds. Cat breeds belonging to this category will typically age faster than cats not belonging to it. The third and final age group includes senior and elderly cats, which are over 7-10 years of age in human years.
I'll discuss health issues in the following section, as well as the factors that impact the frequency of vet visits. Vet visits should be more frequent if your cat has a serious chronic health condition. Thus, in case of any behavior that appears to indicate underlying health conditions, seek medical attention immediately. If you notice any behavior that gives the impression that the animal is ill, you should consult your vet right away and make sure to mention everything that may contribute to a diagnosis of the animal. 
It is, as with humans, easier to remedy and set things right when you catch things early on with cats – so act as soon as you possibly can if this is the case. The following tips can make it easier for you to get your cat to the vet, and to get him home from the vet. Considering these measures will help relieve pet anxiety, while simultaneously making your life easier by eliminating the pet’s anxiety surrounding vet visits.
We will begin our discussion by looking at the frequencies by age...
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How Often Should Cats See a Vet Part I: Age

First off, there are 3 stages that will be discussed and these are the following: 
  • Regardless of the breed, kittens are generally 0 to 1 years old.
  • Adult cats are generally 1 to 7-10 years old.
  • Senior cats are usually 7-10 years old and older.

Our journey to a better home begins with kittens! Kittens are Felines Aged 0-1 Years in Human Years

When it comes to kittens, you should expect to visit the vet every six months. The best resource I found to explain the context of vet visits by age range is the article How Often Should Your Pet Visit the Vet? Here’s what WebMD’s Linda Formichelli has to say about kitten visit to the vet, paraphrased in our own words:
Felines will get tested for feline leukemia, as well as vaccinations for several diseases. Furthermore, your pet will get a heartworm and flea and tick prevention pill, if they’re appropriate for your area. Your kitten or puppy’s veterinarian will examine him to make sure he is growing well and showing no signs of illness. Barrett stresses that pets are highly trainable, so it is necessary to check on them again around 6 months, if and when they are taken in for neutering. Therefore, during the first visit, your kitten will have vaccinations and tests. In the second visit, your pet will be ready to be neutered or spayed and discussions will focus on socialization and behavior. From what I understand, when you take in a kitten from one of the shelters, or from some other source, the kitten has already been spayed or neutered then the first year you wouldn’t need to go to the vet, but that’s just my understanding. Please contact your veterinarian and let him/her know what time is most suitable for an appointment and how many days apart appointments should be held in the event your pet requires a number of treatment sessions. Other than that, it seems that’s all for kittens so long as there are no medical conditions or concerning behaviors to worry about. 
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Onto the next stage of a cat’s life...Felines aged 1 to 7-10 in human years, an adult cat.

Throughout an adult cat’s lifetime, it’s ideal to go to the vet about once every year. In the same article, they explain:
In this stage of her life, vets recommend annual checkups. The vet will provide a comprehensive physical examination of your pet. [...] If your pet presents any symptoms [,] the vet may suggest other tests. [O]utdoor cats should get feline leukemia vaccinations. These vaccinations are scheduled for the first yearly checkup and then, after that, usually every three years. The vaccination schedule for Distemper-Parvo vaccine is regulated by state law. I'd like to suggest that you bring a stool sample in to check if your pet has intestinal parasites. When your cat reaches adulthood, he or she goes in for yearly checkups, initially getting a physical examination, rabies vaccination, and the feline leukemia vaccine. Many vets also administer parasite treatment / deworming pills/ shots. At the end of the first year, boosters are administered at yearly checkups as well as physical exams. Any concerns you have about your pet’s behavior might be brought up at those yearly check-ups – if your pet’s behavior seems odd. Make a list of all the worries you have and tell your vet about them. Better to be safe than sorry. 

And finally... Our final stage of the cat's life... Senior Cat: Cats aged 7 – 10 years in human years.

Cat in cage
Cats that are senior should be checked at the vet approximately once every six months. When it comes to kittens, the spacing is dependent on whether they are healthy enough to undergo spaying or neutering surgery. However, with elderly cats, the spacing is dependent upon their age. It is beneficial to repeat a physical examination every six months, as it will be easier to monitor their health when it is held in a regular setting. In the article mentioned earlier, this is a description of two-times-a-year check-ups:
A veterinarian recommends twice-annual checkups for older pets. Your pet will receive vaccinations for the necessary diseases and will receive a complete physical examination along with follow-up tests to find out if any problems exist. Tests on blood and urine can provide your vet with more information on your pet’s kidney and liver functioning, hormone levels, and more. You should mention any changes you've seen in your pet, such as if your cat is drinking more water, or if your dog isn't as excited about his walks. These can be signs of a new condition such as kidney disease or arthritis. Veterinarians will be monitoring a cat's kidney and liver health, as well as thyroid levels and hormone levels, closely to make sure they're in fine shape. 

The Health Concerns of Cats Part II: How Often Should They Visit the Vet?

In the event that your cat has chronic health issues, including Urinary Tract Infections, heart murmurs, and thyroid conditions - your veterinarian may advise that you see him or her more often, regular intervals to ensure he or she is still stable with his or her health issue. The veterinarian will also likely advise you to monitor your pets for any characteristics of the condition they have, and if you observe them beginning to flare, bring your pets in immediately.
Considering your cat's medical condition - if you haven't heard from your vet about how frequently you should see him or her - please take a moment to ask. It would be best to discuss this with your veterinarian. The vet may think every so often is fine, it may be more frequent if they suspect an issue. 
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If You Observe Strange Behaviors & Symptoms: Take Your Pet to the Vet Immediately

The importance of watching for unusual behavior cannot be overstated; and if you do spot any, let your vet know what they indicate – it could really help them diagnose any medical problems. Perhaps your cat develops bald spots from over-grooming or bleeds when scratched. Does this happen at a particular time of day? If your cat ate right before that, could it be a food allergy? This advice may help your vet diagnose the problem.
There are other often random behaviors that seem like nothing but are actually signs of trouble. For example, your cat could be grinding its teeth if it is in pain. If your cat has a toothache, it may not be eating properly, or it could have dental problems. All this to say, even if your cat’s behavior change seems like it’s practically nothing, like single accidental urination on the bed one evening, you absolutely need to mention this to your vet since it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition that need to be addressed. Taking your cat to the vet is an important responsibility. The sooner you catch problems, the better your chances for your vet repairing them and bringing your cat back to perfect health. Don’t take chances, it’s better to tell your vet too much than too little.
Making the veterinarian's office as convenient as possible
In addition to the actual vet visit, there are two elements that can be quite stressful for a cat. The first is the carrier. Second? That dreaded car. The remedies? They’re a little tedious, but they might save you some time and effort, and they are really easy to implement.
We share the full guide on how to make your cat less anxious in your carriers & in cars. Take the time to discover and apply as many strategies as possible for both. It’s helpful not only when you see the vet, but it’s also useful in case of an emergency – like (heaven forbid) a fire which requires you to evacuate all your pets. Getting mad and yelling is not the ideal course of action in a situation like that.
Although that is a separate article, I think this Pet MD article incorporates some essential points in the 10 questions listed above:
  1. What are your concerns about your cat?
  2. Has your cat been treated for illness or injury before?
  3. With what other animals does your cat come in contact?
  4. What type of food do you feed your cat?
  5. How often do you feed your cat?
  6. How much food does your cat eat and drink?
  7. Are any supplements taken by your cat (even as treats)?
  8. Is your cat having diarrhea, a sore throat, coughing, or sneezing? What are all the specific symptoms of these conditions?
  9. Has your cat's eating, playing, grooming, or sleeping habits changed recently?
  10. Do you remember when and why your cat last got his vaccination?
Take the time to write things down before visiting the vet to make sure you don’t forget anything.

How Do You Feel About Frequency of Cat Vet Visits?

Tabby Cat Rolling On Its Back On A Rug
Do you have any opinions, thoughts, or experiences related to veterinarian visits that you can share with us? Does your cat have any medical problems and if so, how often does your vet recommend you bring her in? Has your doctor advised you to see him or her more often, or are you just to look for flare-ups, behavioral changes, and potential symptoms and go in when you have signs of any of these? Would love to hear what other pet parents have to say, and I know that other pet parents would be grateful to learn from your experience!
Make sure to check out our personalized pet products starring your pet - personalized pet books, custom pet socks, custom pet blankets, pet mugs and more!