So you have made the leap into being a pet parent! Bringing home a new pet can be incredibly rewarding but you should keep in mind that your new kitten will need regular vet visits in order to help keep them healthy. To help you prepare, our Bakersfield veterinarians talk about what to expect at your kitten's first vet visit and what questions you should ask.
When you bring a kitten home, you must get it examined by a veterinarian. This is important not just for the health of your kitten, but also to guarantee that it does not share any communicable infections. If the kitten exhibits any signs of illness, such as watery eyes, sneezing, trouble breathing, or inability to eat, it should be seen as soon as possible.
Do I need to bring anything?
There are some things that will make your kitten's first vet visit go smoothly. 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
If you're taking your kitten to the vet for the first time, make sure to bring any adoption documentation with you. Your veterinarian should also be aware of all treatments and immunizations that have already been administered to the kitten. If it is impossible, write down what you were told at the adoption so you don't forget.
What happens during the physical exam?
The staff and veterinarian will ask you about your kitten's history and do a physical examination. They will also search for other parasites like fleas and mites. The vet will examine your kitten's eyes, ears, lips, skin, coat, and entire body. This includes palpating the abdomen to feel the organs and using a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs. A stool sample may also be taken to see whether you have any underlying health issues.
For optimal health, weaning time, and socialization, kittens should be adopted at the age of 8 to 10 weeks. If your kitten is young, especially if it is 6 weeks or under, the vet will need to examine the kitten's nutrition and hydration status and offer any necessary supplementation.
Will my kitten need any lab tests?
Yes, during the first vet visit your kitten will likely require diagnostic tests such as a fecal exam and bloodwork.
Fecal Exam: You will most likely be requested to bring a fecal sample from your kitten to your veterinarian for testing for parasites like intestinal worms, giardia, and other potential issues. Because not all intestinal parasites show up on fecal tests and a substantial percentage of kittens have them, your vet may give your kitten a deworming medicine at each appointment. Many parasites can be transmitted to humans, thus it is critical to remove them from your cat.
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 first vet visit, as well as subsequent routine exams, can vary from vet to vet, cat to cat, and pet to pet. Your vet will be able to provide you with an accurate quote on the cost of your kitten's routine vet visits.
What questions should I ask at my kitten's first vet visit?
While you are at the first vet visit there will be many questions that you will and should want to ask about the care of your new kitten. Of course, there is a myriad of others you can ask, and we encourage you to do so, but these should start you on the road 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.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.