Your furry little bundle of joy has started to find their way around your home, and you're having fun fulfilling the role of pet parent. Now it's time to schedule your kitten's first vet appointment and routine exams. Our Los Angeles vets share a few tips to to help you prepare, and explain what to expect at your kitten's first visit.
When should I book my kitten's first vet visit?
As for the question of when to take your kitten for their first vet visit, one of the first items on your to-do list after you bring a new kitten home should be to book the first exam with your veterinarian.
Ideally, kittens should be adopted between the ages of 8 and 10 weeks to allow for proper socialization and weaning time, and give them a chance to get a good, healthy start in life.
Young kittens (especially 6 weeks old and younger, newborn kittens) will need to have their first vet visit to confirm they are getting the proper nutrition and hydration. Symptoms of illness may include water eyes, sneezing, an inability to eat, or trouble breathing. All of these mean that your vet should see your kitten right away.
Should I bring anything?
We recommend bringing a few items with you to your kitten's first checkup, whether you visit your veterinarian's office after picking up your new kitten or within one or two days of bringing them home.
- Notes around any health concerns you might have about your kitten
- Any papers or information the shelter or breeder has supplied
- Stool sample
- Cat carrier
- Cat treats
If you'll be taking your kitten to see your vet for the first time, make sure to bring any documents you received during the adoption process with you. Your veterinarian will also need a history of any treatments or immunizations that your kitten has had. If this is not possible, write down what you were told during the adoption process so you can remember important details.
What will happen during the physical exam?
Your veterinarian will take this opportunity to check your pet's general health and identify any communicable diseases. The veterinarian will ask about your kitten's health history and perform a physical exam to assess your kitten's entire body - including their ears, eyes, coat, skin, and lips.
The abdomen will also be palpated and the organs checked. The vet will listen to the heart and lungs using a stethoscope, and check for worms, fleas, and mites. A stool sample may also be taken to find out whether your kitten has any underlying health issues that may not be identified during the physical exam or other tests. Your veterinarian can also recommend any nutritional supplements, if required.
Will my kitten need any lab tests?
Your kitten will probably need both a fecal exam and a blood test.
Fecal Exam: Your vet will likely ask you to bring a fecal sample from your kitten so it can be tested for parasites such as giardia, intestinal worms, and other potential issues. Since not all intestinal parasites appear on fecal tests and a substantial percentage of kittens have them, your vet may administer a deworming medicine for your kitten at each appointment. Because many parasites can be transmitted to humans, it's critical to remove them from your cat's body.
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?
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. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.