You adore your cat and want to ensure their long, healthy life with you. Today, our San Diego veterinarians explain the importance of regular check-ups and preventive care for your cat.

When to Take a Cat to the Vet

Ensuring your cat receives regular veterinary care is crucial for a long and healthy life. The frequency of vet visits will depend on factors such as their age and overall health.

There are specific times when you should consider taking your cat to the vet, such as:

  • Annual Wellness Exams: Just like humans, cats should have regular check-ups with a veterinarian. Annual exams allow the vet to assess your cat's overall health, administer vaccinations if needed, and detect any potential health issues early.
  • Changes in Behavior or Appetite: If you notice significant changes in your cat's behavior, such as lethargy, hiding, excessive vocalization, or changes in appetite or thirst, it's a good idea to have them checked by a vet. These could be signs of underlying health problems.
  • Litter Box Changes: Changes in urination or defecation habits, such as difficulty urinating, blood in the urine or stool, or changes in litter box habits, may indicate urinary tract issues, digestive problems, or other health issues that require veterinary attention.
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea: Occasional vomiting or diarrhea may not be cause for alarm, but if it persists for more than a day or is accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy or refusal to eat, it's best to have your cat examined by a vet.
  • Lumps or Bumps: Any new lumps, bumps, or masses on your cat's body should be evaluated by a veterinarian. While some may be harmless, others could be signs of tumors or other severe health conditions.
  • Dental Problems: Dental issues such as bad breath, swollen gums, or difficulty eating can indicate dental disease, which is common in cats. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are important for your cat's overall health.
  • Weight Loss or Gain: Significant changes in your cat's weight, either loss or gain, without a change in diet or activity level, could be a sign of underlying health problems such as thyroid issues, diabetes, or organ dysfunction.
  • Senior Cats: Older cats (usually around seven years old or older) should have more frequent veterinary check-ups, ideally every six months. Senior cats are more prone to age-related health issues such as arthritis, kidney disease, and dental problems.

Remember, these are just guidelines. If you ever feel concerned about your cat's health, it's always best to err on the side of caution and consult with a veterinarian. They can provide personalized advice based on your cat's specific needs and health history.

Being proactive about your cat's health can save you money on more expensive treatments in the future. While the cost of routine check-ups may be a concern, non-plan emergency visits can be stressful, especially when it comes to the price. That's why at College Animal Hospital, we offer cat wellness plans that help make preventive care more affordable by spreading costs across 12 months.

What is a cat wellness plan?

A cat wellness plan is an insurance designed to help pet owners manage routine healthcare expenses for their pets. Unlike traditional pet insurance, which typically covers unexpected accidents and illnesses, wellness plans focus more on preventive care.

These plans usually include services such as annual check-ups, vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, heartworm prevention, and sometimes even dental cleanings. Some plans may also cover routine diagnostic tests like blood work or urinalysis.

Many cat insurance companies and veterinary clinics offer pet wellness plans. Pet owners pay a monthly or annual fee for the plan, which provides coverage for various preventive care services outlined in the plan.

The goal is to help pet owners budget for routine healthcare expenses and ensure they receive the necessary preventive care to stay healthy.

When should I book my wellness exam? 

You may wonder when wellness exams should be scheduled for cats at different stages of life, from kittens to seniors. Our vets will advise on the recommended frequency of visits.

How often should kittens see a vet?

If your kitten is less than a year old, we recommend bringing them to the vet once a month, starting at around eight weeks old. Kittens need multiple vaccinations during their first year to protect them from common infectious diseases.

They should receive the Feline Leukemia vaccine as well as the FVRCP vaccine, which guards against three highly contagious and potentially fatal feline diseases: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FHV-1), Feline Calicivirus (FCV), and Feline Panleukopenia (FPL). Your kitten will receive these vaccines over approximately 16 weeks, greatly contributing to their long-term health. The timing of the vaccinations may vary based on your location and your kitten's overall health.

Our vets suggest spaying or neutering your kitten between five and six months old to prevent various diseases, undesirable behaviors, and unwanted litters.

How often should middle-aged cats see a vet?

Bringing your healthy adult cat, aged between one and ten years, for an annual exam is recommended. These yearly check-ups should be conducted even if your cat appears perfectly healthy.

During your adult cat's routine exam, your vet will conduct a thorough head-to-tail examination to check for early signs of diseases or other issues, such as parasites, joint pain, or tooth decay. Your veterinarian will also administer any necessary vaccines or booster shots, discuss your cat's diet and nutritional needs, and recommend appropriate parasite protection products.

If your vet identifies any signs of a health issue, they will explain their findings and suggest the next steps.

How often should senior cats see a vet?

When cats reach 11 years of age, they are considered seniors. Since many feline diseases and injuries are more common in senior cats, we recommend taking your older cat to the vet every six months. Your senior cat's twice-yearly wellness check-ups will include all the above checks, advice, and additional diagnostic tests to gain insights into your furry friend's overall health.

Some diagnostic tests we recommend for our senior patients include blood tests and urinalysis to check for early signs of problems such as kidney disease or diabetes.

Geriatric care for cats also involves a more proactive approach to keeping your feline companion comfortable as age-related issues such as joint pain become more common. If you have a senior cat, ask your vet how often you should bring your pet for a routine exam.

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.

Preventive care, including regular check-ups, helps give your cat the best shot at a long, healthy life. Contact our San Diego vets today to book a wellness exam for your feline friend.