Your new little bundle of joy is settling in at home, and you're having fun taking on the role of pet parent. Now it's time to schedule your kitten's first vet appointment and routine exams. Our Riverside vets offer some tips to help you prepare and explain what to expect at your kitten's first visit.
One of the first things you'll want to do when you bring a new kitten home is to book the first exam with your veterinarian.
During this checkup, your vet will check whether your kitten has any communicable diseases and assess their general health. Signs of illness can include an inability to eat, sneezing, watery eyes or trouble breathing. All of these mean your kitten should see a vet right away.
Should I Bring Anything?
We recommend bringing a few things with you to your kitten's first checkup, whether your drop by the veterinarian's office after picking up your new kitten or within a day or two of bringing them home. These include:
- Notes of any health concerns you have about your kitten
- Any information or papers from the breeder or shelter
- Stool sample
- Cat treats
- Cat carrier
If you'll be taking your kitten to the vet for the first time, be sure to bring any adoption documents with you. Your veterinarian should also have a history of any immunizations or treatments that your kitten has had. If this is not possible, write down what you were told during the adoption process so you don't forget important details.
What will happen during the physical exam?
You'll be asked about your kitten's health history and the veterinarian will perform a physical exam. They will also check for parasites such as mites, fleas and worms. The vet will examine your kitten's entire body - including their eyes, ears, skin, coat and lips - before palpating the abdomen to check the organs. They will also listen to the lungs and heart using a stethoscope. A stool sample may also be taken to see whether your kitten has any underlying health issues.
For ideal health, socialization and weaning time, kittens should be adopted between the age of 8 and 10 weeks. Young kittens (especially 6 weeks old or younger) will need to be examined by the vet to ensure they are getting the proper nutrition and hydration. Your veterinarian can recommend any supplements if required.
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 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 wellness exams, can vary from vet to vet, cat to cat, and pet to pet. For an accurate estimate of cost, 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 vet during the first visit. Of course, there are 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. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.