So you have just brought home a little bundle of joy. Congratulations! But make sure you're scheduling your first veterinary appointment, as well as routine exams going forward. To help you prepare, our Riverside County vets discuss what to expect at your kitten's first appointment.
When you bring home a kitten, it must be examined by a veterinarian. This is important not only for your kitten's health, but also to ensure that it does not share any communicable infections. If the kitten shows signs of illness, such as watery eyes, sneezing, difficulty breathing, or inability to eat, it should be examined as soon as possible.
Do I need to bring anything?
Some things are nice to have ready before the initial checkup, whether you go immediately to the doctor after picking up your new kitten or after a day or two at home. 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
Bring any adoption documentation with you to the vet if you're taking your kitten for the first time. Your veterinarian should also be aware of any previous treatments and immunizations given to the kitten. If this is not possible, make a note of 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 the history of your kitten and perform a physical examination. They will also look for fleas and mites. Your kitten's eyes, ears, lips, skin, coat, and entire body will be examined by the vet. This involves palpating the abdomen to feel the organs and listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. A stool sample may be taken as well to determine whether your cat has 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, your kitten will likely need both a fecal exam and a blood test.
Fecal Exam: Your veterinarian will probably ask you to bring a sample of your kitten's feces for testing for parasites like intestinal worms, Giardia, and other possible problems. Your veterinarian may administer a deworming medication to your kitten at each visit because a significant portion of kittens have intestinal parasites, which do not always manifest on fecal tests. It is crucial to get rid of all of the parasites on your cat because many of them can spread to humans.
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 my kitten's 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. For an accurate estimate of cost, please contact your veterinarian directly.
What questions should I ask at my kitten's first vet visit?
You can ask the following queries to your veterinarian at your initial appointment. However, these should get you started on the path to responsible cat ownership. Of course, there are a plethora of other questions you can ask, and we encourage you to do so:
- 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.