How Often Do You Take a Cat to the Vet? Is Annual Health Checkup Necessary?

How Often Do You Take a Cat to the Vet

How often do you take a cat to the vet? While there are general guidelines to consider depending on your cat’s age, and overall health, we’d say, it also depends on your cat’s emergent needs.

But if you have generally healthy indoor cats, you can follow the standard schedules for annual and monthly visits below depending on their age.

How Often Do You Take a Cat to the Vet?

Going to the vet can be stressful and exhausting not just for cat owners, but most especially for cats. There is the travel time, your pet’s exposure to dogs and other animals, to the new place, the unfamiliar noises, endless waiting time, and the list can go on and on.

However, if you take all of these negativities out of the picture, you’ll see nothing but the importance of these visits to ensure your pet’s health, so you can give him a long and happy life as much as possible.

Below are the general guidelines to follow on when to see the vet:

Veterinary Care for Young Kittens (Birth – 1 Year)

Your kitten’s initial vet visits are crucial, as these can set the stage for him to growing strong, healthy, and protected, especially during this age when he is more susceptible to health issues and diseases.

Your kitten should have his vet visit once every 3 to 4 weeks during the first 16 weeks of his life. During these scheduled visits, he is expected to receive a series of vaccinations to protect him from the most common feline diseases: feline distemper (panleukopenia), feline herpesvirus 1, calicivirus, and rabies.

Moreover, during your vet visit, you may also want to discuss the importance of socialization as this can play an important role in how they’ll behave in the presence of other pets or people. Also, for most kittens, using their litter box will come naturally to them.

However, it’s a different story when we talk about teaching them to avoid scratching our sofa and furniture. For this, you may ask your vet for assistance and expert tips on how to properly train your young cat to avoid or reduce this destructive behavior.

And of course, you can seek guidance on how you can easily trim your cat’s nails and how you can make such activity a positive experience for your cat.

Due to the high prevalence of parasites in kittens, your young feline friend should also be dewormed at 6 weeks of age, and receive his succeeding doses at 8, 10, and 12 weeks of age. After these, your kitten should then be dewormed once a month until he reaches 6 months of age.

It is also during your cat’s first year when you should talk with your vet regarding having him spayed/neutered, and microchipped.

Your veterinarian will recommend the best time to spay or neuter your cat, while also considering your cat’s body weight and health condition. As a baseline, most cats undergo this surgical procedure between 6 to 12 months of age.

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Adult Cats and Vet Visits (1 Year – 10 Years)

Cats are stoic, so, it’s important to have them checked. So, even if your cat appears okay without obvious signs of ailments to your clinically untrained eyes, your vet may see him differently.

That’s why you should take your adult cat to the vet at least once a year for his comprehensive physical examination, dental cleanings, and additional vaccinations.

An annual visit to the vet is a must for all felines; there are no exceptions even if you have an indoor only cat. It’s a common misconception that needs to be corrected among pet owners that an indoor cat doesn’t need to be vaccinated and/or checked by a vet regularly.

To set the record straight, your indoor cat still needs to receive his distemper and rabies vaccines, have his regular deworming appointments, and so on.

Having an annual checkup and dental examination can help prevent or catch the presence of ailments such as kidney problems, feline leukemia, and other diseases.

Just like with us, humans, early detection can help prevent (and even cure) the progression of your cat’s condition (if there is) to a full-blown life-threatening problem.

If your cat goes outside or if he is exposed to other cats outside of your home, your vet may also recommend a year-round flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, which often comes in a spot-on medication. 

Annual Checkup and Physical Examination for Senior Cats (10 years+)

Once your cat reaches this stage of his life, your vet will most likely recommend that you visit his clinic for your pet’s health assessments, and blood works two to three times a year. It’s not a surprise that during this age, cats are at higher risk of having several medical problems.

And as mentioned earlier, they can be secretive about their pain and discomfort. So, showing up on your cat’s scheduled annual vet visits is a must.

Common age-related health issues such as kidney and liver problems, dental disease, obesity, and arthritis need a comprehensive treatment plan to be managed effectively.

And as always, early detection can help prevent the progression of these diseases from becoming more serious.

To give your vet a better picture of your cat’s condition, you could also take note of certain behaviors and observations that could help him in making a more conclusive diagnosis.

Don’t hesitate to tell your vet if your cat is showing signs of stiffness or hesitation to jump, so he can prescribe medications to relieve his achy joints.

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When Should You Go to the Vet Outside of Your Annual Health Checkup?

While having scheduled vet visits is important, sometimes we may have to go more often when circumstances call for it. Even these regular checkups are no guarantee that your cat may go with his daily routines all-year round without having some issues.

Also, some situations can make cats stressed and can therefore have a significant effect on their health. If you are moving to a new place or anticipating a major change in your cat’s lifestyle and daily routine, you should contact your vet if there’s anything that must be done to prepare your cat.

You should also consult your vet if you are planning to shift your cat to a new food or if you are planning to change his diet from dry to wet or wet to raw.

Additionally, if you notice that your cat is becoming borderline obese, you may want to talk with him regarding weight management. It is not a secret after all that significant weight gain can also cause health issues in cats.

Other alarming signs that may warrant a vet visit are vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, depression, weight loss, limping, frequent scratching, bald spots, and small skin cuts. If you are unsure whether to go to the vet or not, chances are you should.

Simply follow your gut and parental instinct. More often than not, it’s true – and if it’s not, then, you should be thankful.

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Do cats really need to go to the vet?

Just like humans, cats should see the vet once a year even if they seem perfectly healthy. Annual vet appointments - wellness checks, as they're called - can help head off potentially serious diseases. Some vaccines also require 'boosters' every few years to remain effective.

How often do cats need checkups?

But cats should be seen at least once a year, says veterinarian Brian Collins, DVM, lecturer at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine's Companion Animal Hospital.

Is it bad to not take your cat to the vet?

Your cat may develop rabies or distemper or feline AIDS or get infections and fleas and parasites and intestinal worms, especially if it is an outdoor cat. Indoor or outdoor, obesity, diabetes, and gum disease may develop and you would never know. Cats rarely reveal that they are sick. That would make them vulnerable.

At what age do you stop vaccinating your cat?

By the time our pets are 8, 10 or 12 years — or older — they should have been vaccinated for these diseases several times in their lives: the first few times as puppies or kittens, a booster at one year and then boosters every three years, as recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association

  • Updated September 6, 2023
Raymond Umpa

With over a decade of expertise, he's a seasoned writer skilled in crafting compelling and well-optimized content tailored for a wide array of platforms and target audiences. His portfolio encompasses a broad spectrum of projects, including articles, social media posts, newsletters, and ebooks, spanning diverse subjects and specialized areas. His talents lie in adeptly researching, composing, and refining content that precisely aligns with the requirements and tastes of both his clients and readers.