In general, cats should visit their veterinarian at least yearly. However, this recommendation can vary based on your cat’s age and if there are any health concerns.
Most cat owners know that their cat needs regular veterinary care. But the term ‘regular’ is subjective and can mean different things to different people. Just how often is ‘regular’ veterinary care for your cat? The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends that cats should visit their veterinarian at least once per year. The decision about how often to bring your cat or kitten to the vet depends on several individual factors such as age, environment, breed, and health status.
A study done by Bayer health determined that 52% of American cats see the vet less frequently than once per year. Some common reasons for these infrequent visits are that cats are pros at hiding their illnesses and injuries, and can sometimes be difficult to bring to the vet. Remember that cats need frequent and regular veterinary care, just like dogs and people!
Kitten Vet Visits
If you have a kitten, it is important that they see a vet within the first week of adding them to your family. This way, your veterinarian can determine if the kitten is healthy and discuss the vaccination and visit schedule.
Kittens typically receive their first core vaccination against feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia around 6-8 weeks of age and then every 3-4 weeks until around 16-20 weeks of age. Between 12-16 weeks, a kitten will receive its first rabies vaccination.
During your kitten’s first veterinary visits, they will be examined, vaccinated, dewormed, and given other tests such as feline viral tests or fecal parasite tests as needed.
Once a is kitten is around six months old, you should bring them to a vet to be spayed or neutered.
Adult Cat Vet Visits
Once a cat is a year old, they are considered an adult and should see the veterinarian at least once a year. These yearly wellness and preventative visits will include an annual examination, vaccines, and testing as needed.
Most adult cats will receive their distemper combination (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia) vaccine and rabies vaccine anywhere from every 1-3 years. At-risk cats will receive their feline leukemia vaccines yearly.
Annual vet visits are a perfect time to ask your veterinarian questions regarding your cat’s diet, exercise, and behavior.
Senior and Geriatric Cat Vet Visits
Senior cats are around 10-15 years old, while geriatric cats are considered over the age of 15. Senior and geriatric cats should see the vet twice a year for their wellness and preventative exams, and at least one of these visits should include routine blood and urine tests. Older cats are more prone to kidney, liver, and thyroid diseases and tend to become sick more often.
When to Bring Your Cat to the Vet More Often
- Cats should be seen by their veterinarian more often than once per year if they:
- Are acting sick
- Have a known medical condition
- Are injured
- Spend time outdoors (higher risk of exposure to diseases and injuries)
- Are used for breeding
- Are exhibiting any changes in behavior
Dr. Amanda Jondle is a veterinarian who practices small animal medicine and surgery. Growing up on a small farm, she knew from a very young age that she wanted to work with animals and started spending time at a local vet clinic at 11 years old. In addition to working full time at an animal hospital, she now enjoys helping pets and educating clients through writing and editing articles to inform pet owners on how to best care for their pets. She and her husband currently have 4 rescue dogs and 3 cats of their own and are often fostering pets with health issues until they find their forever homes.