So you have just brought home your new furry friend. Congratulations! But make sure you're scheduling your cat's first veterinary appointment, as well as routine exams going forward. To help you prepare, our O’Fallon vets discuss what to expect at your kitten's first appointment.

Why should my kitten go to the vet?

When you bring a kitten home, you it should get examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. This is important not just for the health of your kitten, but also to guarantee that it does not have any communicable diseases. If the kitten exhibits any signs of illness, such as watery eyes, sneezing, trouble breathing, or inability to eat, it should be seen 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

Your veterinarian should also be aware of all treatments and immunizations that have already been administered to the kitten. If that's not possible, write down what you were told at the adoption so you don't forget.

What happens during the physical exam?

The veterinarian will ask you about your kitten's history and do a physical examination. They will also search for parasites like fleas and mites, as these can be detrimental to your kitten's health. The vet will then examine your kitten's eyes, ears, lips, skin, coat, and entire body. This includes palpating the abdomen to feel the organs and using a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs. A stool sample may also be taken to see whether your kitty has any underlying health issues.

If your kitten 6 weeks old or younger, the vet will need to examine its nutrition and hydration status and offer any necessary supplementation. In this case, you may be required to bottle feed your kitten, as they don't have their mother to feed off of anymore, and are too young for solid food.

Will my kitten need any lab tests?

Ideally, your kitten will likely receive both a fecal exam and a blood test.

Fecal ExamYou should bring a fecal sample from your kitten with you to your appointment so the vet can test 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. Parasites can be transmitted to humans, so it is critical to remove them from your cat for both of your safety.

Blood TestThe American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends that all newly adopted cats, regardless of age, be tested for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). If your kitten is less than nine weeks old, your veterinarian will likely wait to test until it is older. If you have other cats in the house, keep them separated until the kitten has tested negative.

How much will the first vet visit cost?

The first vet visit, as well as subsequent routine exams, can vary from vet to vet and cat to cat. 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 sample questions you should ask your vet during the first visit. There are many others you can ask, and we encourage you to do so as they come up, but these should be a good starting point:

  • 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.

What about when I get a puppy? Should I take them to the vet?

Much of the above information is also true when it comes to dogs. It is important when you get a puppy or a kitten to book its first vet appointment right away, and keep up to date on shots and other exams.

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.

Do you need to schedule your kitten's first veterinary appointment? Contact our O’Fallon vets today to make sure your new family member gets the best possible start to life.