How Often Do You Take A Cat To The Vet

It’s important to take your cat to the vet for routine checkups, vaccinations, and other treatments. Find out all about pet care with tips from Geeky Grizzly!


Cats are one of the most popular and beloved pets all around the world. They are playful, loving, cute, and affectionate, albeit in their own way.

However, being a pet parent can also be stressful sometimes, particularly concerning a general checkup and especially in case of a cat vet emergency. Some might even procrastinate on taking their cats to the vet because of all the hassle and the distress it brings to both the cat and the cat owner.

Nonetheless, regular vet visits and medical checkups are extremely important for a cat’s long and comfortable life. Pet parents should be prepared with everything regarding a vet visit to make the experience a comfortable, if not a joyous one, for the cat. How often do you take a cat to the vet? How to take a cat to the vet? How much does a cat vet visit cost? Keep reading to find out!

How often do you take a cat to the vet?

cat grooming at the vet

The general checkup frequency for a cat depends on its age, lifestyle, and state of health. While kittens and old cats need to be taken to the vet more often, adult cats may need comparatively fewer visits. 

1. Kittens (aged 6 weeks to 1 year old)

Kittens should ideally be taken to the vet for the first time when they are six to eight weeks old and once a month thereafter. This is so that they can get all the necessary vaccinations, which will be provided till they are 16 months old.

These vaccinations will prevent your kittens from common infectious cat diseases as well as life-threatening ones and so, are very important for them to have a long and happy life as an adult.

Around the age of five to six months, kittens can be spayed or neutered. This can prevent them from developing undesirable behaviors such as aggression or territory marking. This is also the perfect time to consult your vet about microchipping your cat.

2. Adult cats (1 to 7 years old)

Healthy adult cats, which includes cats between the ages of one to seven years old, may do well with just one vet visit per year.

This visit can include a general checkup, any vaccine boosters your cat might need, and an examination of the teeth and gums as dental disease is very common with almost no symptoms in cats aged three years or older.

Neutered cats are also at risk of becoming overweight and the vet can help the pet parent with nutritional suggestions as well as vet approved homemade cat recipes that will keep the cat’s weight in check while supplying them with all the nutrients needed in their diet.

3. Senior or old cats (more than 7 years old)

If your cat is more than seven years old, it might be better to take them to the vet twice a year or every six months.

This is because old cats or senior cats become even more vulnerable to certain diseases such as diabetes or kidney issues. They can also have joint pain when they get older as their bones get weak and the vet can help them with a suitable treatment. 

4. Outdoor cats

Similarly, outdoor cats are exposed to far more dangers than indoor cats as they spend most of their time outside the house.

These dangers may be other predators, cars, etc. They can also catch diseases including but not limited to Feline leukemia (FeLV), Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), and Feline distemper (panleukopenia), and parasites such as ticks, tapeworms,mites, fleas, etc.

Thus, outdoor cats should be taken to the vet more often so that the vet can make sure that the cat has all the vaccinations necessary and spot signs of illness.

Why are regular vet visits important for cats?

While a cat (Felis catus) is an amazing and fierce animal in the wild, it is also vulnerable to a large number of diseases and disorders. Thus, a feral cat, which is a domestic cat that avoids humans and lives in the wild, has a considerably shorter lifespan than a domestic or pet cat that lives inside a house and under the care of a human being.

1. Vetting for diseases regularly

All domestic cats can be affected by numerous diseases such as infections, kidney diseases, thyroid diseases, parasites, injuries, and arthritis. However, with timely and proper care, regular vet visits, and a good emergency cat vet, these can be easily avoided and even treated. 

Another crucial reason why regular vet visits are important for cats is that evolution has trained cats to hide any signs of weakness or illness from everyone around them.

This is because these animals are, by nature, predators and they want to avoid other larger predators that might find them easy to hunt because of their illness. Hence, they are experts at hiding from their owners whenever they fall sick. Veterinarians are taught and trained to spot subtle signs of illness that we might think is normal behavior. 

2. Regular weight checks

Moreover, many domestic cats are susceptible to obesity, which can lead to a lot of health issues such as diabetes, heart and kidney diseases, and much more. If your cat is obese or at risk of being overweight, the vet may give you some nutritional recommendations in terms of portions to feed your cat and the frequency of feeding.

They might even provide you with some vet approved homemade cat food recipes such as raw cat food, chicken and rice, chicken and salmon, and other recipes that your cat is sure to love but will also provide it with the necessary nutrients and supplements.

Preventing a health issue is much easier than treating a health issue and veterinarians can detect problems before they get worse and start to cause pain and discomfort to your beloved cat.

Thus, it is very important to take your pet cat, whether it is an indoor or outdoor cat, to regular vet visits for medical checkups, even when they do not seem sick to you. These regular checkups will help you save time and money, and most importantly, keep your pet healthy and happy.

Situations when you have to take cat to the vet

Although it is very beneficial to take your cat to the vet even if it seems perfectly healthy, there may be situations when your cat can be sick or suffering from a disease or injury. In this case, it becomes absolutely necessary to consult a veterinarian, who will be able to treat your cat properly. A cat owner should be aware of signs when a vet visit becomes an emergency.

1. Sudden changes in behavior and activity

Cats are masters at hiding their illnesses and avoiding their owners if they feel under the weather. They will even avoid using their litter box. Thus, this act of hiding itself becomes a sign for cat owners to realize that something is wrong. It is necessary to observe your cat and take them to the vet if they continue to hide.

Changes in behavior, such as change in energy levels or sociability, lack of activity or hyperactivity, etc., can also be a sign that they are ill. If your cat looks like it is having difficulty jumping up and down from places, or is unable to stand up on its hind legs, it may be suffering from joint pain or arthritis and should be taken to the vet immediately.

2. Sudden changes in weight and appearance

Other signs that there is a cat vet emergency can be a sudden weight loss or weight gain, and difficulty in breathing or panting, which can sometimes be accompanied by pale or blue tongue and gums. Any changes in their eyes such as droopy eyelids, elevation of the third eyelid, squinting, odd discharges can be signs of illness and may have serious consequences on your cat’s sight and vision. 

3. Frequent vomiting

It is considered normal for your cat to throw up hairballs now and then but if your cat starts vomiting more frequently, then that is a surefire sign that something is wrong. You should take your cat to an emergency cat vet immediately if they vomit a few times within the course of a couple hours. 

4. Other visible symptoms

Under-grooming or over-grooming can be a response to arthritis, joint pain, injury, or ticks, mites, fleas, etc. Frequent sneezing, diarrhea, sudden increase or decrease in appetite, redness in eyes are all causes for concern and your cat should be taken to the vet if these symptoms are prolonged as they may be caused by a life-threatening disease. 

Remember, while there are many safe over-the-counter antibiotics available for pets, use cat antibiotics without vet prescription only if you are absolutely certain about your cat’s symptoms and the underlying cause. It is always recommended to consult a veterinarian rather than giving your cat antibiotics without vet prescription.

Annual checkup checklist

annual cat checkup checklist

The annual vet checkup is a very stressful experience, not only for the cat, but also for the cat owner. Thus, there are some things that should be kept in mind and some preparations to be done so that the whole process can be easier for all parties involved, along with making sure that the objective of the vet visit is successfully achieved.

1. Making an appointment

The first step is making an appointment with a good veterinarian, preferably one that specializes in cats. This might mean separate waiting areas for cats and their owners and cat-friendly standards to make the visit way less stressful than it can be. 

2. Collecting sample for fecal test

At the time of making an appointment, if required, the vet will also ask you to bring a stool sample of the cat to be examined. This can be done by placing your cat’s stool in a plastic bag while cleaning the litter box a day before. 

3. Making a list of changes

It is also very useful to prepare a list of changes that you have noticed in your cat. These can be changes in behaviors like under-grooming or over-grooming, vomiting, redness in eyes, or difficulty in moving or jumping, changes in appetite such as a sudden loss of appetite or sudden weight gain or weight loss, or changes in the litter box like increase or decrease in amount of urine, etc. 

4. Making list of questions

You can also think of questions you want to ask the vet about any health concerns you have for your feline friend or why your cat behaves the way it does. These questions will allow you to take better care of your cat and it is better to write them down to avoid forgetting to ask them during the visit.

5. Vaccines or booster shots

If your cat is an adult, they will probably get all their vaccines or booster shots at the annual checkup. Hence, it is also a good idea to bring all past medical records, especially those of past vaccinations.

How to take cat to the vet

10 Tips to take your cat to the vet by Natalie Marks from Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago

Taking your cat to the vet for an annual checkup is definitely easier said than done. To cats, natural predators in the wild, vet visits can come with a lot of stress and tension due to unfamiliar surroundings, seeing or hearing sounds of other strange animals, traveling in cars, and a general sense of unpleasantness due to smells and noises that are odd to cats.

Thus, cats become escape artists the second they find out they are being taken to the vet, but with proper tricks and enough preparation, they can be persuaded and this challenging task of taking a cat to the vet can be accomplished.

Putting your cat in the carrier

Getting a cat inside the carrier is very difficult. To make your cat comfortable with the carrier, avoid directly putting your cat in it and taking it directly to the vet. Instead, let your cat become familiar with the carrier by first putting it in a room with it with the door open.

It is also preferred to have treats or catnip or a soft blanket inside that will help calm the cat down and let it know it is not under threat. The cat will move in and out of the carrier and finally, when it is actually time to go to the vet, it will be far easier on the cat and the cat owner. The cat should also be put in the carrier only just before it is to be taken to the vet, that is, the cat should not be in it for any longer than necessary.

Choosing the right carrier

Make sure that the carrier is the right size for your feline friend. This means that the cat should be able to sit, stand, or turn around freely while inside the carrier. Generally, this means that the carrier should be one and a half times the size of the cat.

It will ensure that your cat has as peaceful and comfortable an experience in the carrier as possible. This way, you will be able to avoid running after your cat trying to catch it so you can take it to the vet and your feline friend will not associate the carrier with the vet or an unpleasant experience.

During the vet visit

During the visit, the vet might give them certain injections to vaccinate them against Feline panleukopenia (feline distemper or feline parvo), Feline viral rhinotracheitis (herpes virus), Feline calicivirus, or rabies. The vet might need you to hold your cat while they inject it. Hold your pet firmly and comfort them using a calm voice.

After the vet visit

After the vet visit, your cat may take some time to reacclimate with your house. If you have another cat, you might want to keep them separate for several hours to avoid your cat hissing at another cat after a vet visit. This is because unfamiliar smells can prevent the two cats from identifying one another. 

How much does a cat vet visit cost

Taking care of a cat is not cheap. With a cat, comes all the added cost of a cat bed, a scratching post, toys, litter box, cat food, carrier or crate, harness, leash, and much more. However, the high costs of veterinary bills surprises young pet parents the most.

These costs can rack up to a lot, sometimes unexpectedly. Thus, it is always better to prepare and get some knowledge before adopting a kitten to avoid any surprises.

First vet visit ($100 to $300) 

For the very first vet visit for your kitten, the costs can be in the range of $100-$300, which will include any vaccinations your kitten needs such as feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), feline calicivirus (FCV), and feline panleukopenia (FPLV), and any tests that need to be done.

The subsequent vaccine booster shots may cost $10-$100. Spaying or neutering your kitten once they are old enough can cost around $50-$200. 

Routine vet check-ups ($45 to $300)

As an adult of one to seven years old, your cat will need to be taken to the vet at least once a year. These routine vet visits or checkups can cost up to $45-$100, with allergy tests and heartworm tests ranging between $80-$300 and $45-$50, respectively.

As your cat starts getting older, it will need more tests to be done with vet visits at least twice a year. These tests may include urinalysis ($85-$110) and dental work such as a cleaning ($50-$300) or tooth extraction ($50-$130). 

Emergency health checkups ($500 to $5000)

In case of an emergency or serious health issues, veterinary bills can become even more expensive. The total cost of a visit to the emergency veterinary hospital can fall between the range of $500-$5,000, depending on the severity of the treatment done or surgery performed on your cat. 

Pet insurance ($100 to $1000)

A way to cover these costs can be pet insurance. There are many health insurance plans available for your pets with a variety of options.

Deductibles and premiums for these plans can range between $100-$1,000 annually and they can cover not only routine checks, but also emergency situations such as accidents and diseases. It is recommended that you choose a pet health insurance plan as soon as or before you bring a new pet in your family.


Cats may be amazing predators in the wild but are also just as wonderful as pets. However, taking care of them is not always easy as cat behavior is not the same as other pets. They tend to hide symptoms of disease from their owners or simply avoid them until they feel better, which they don’t always do unless treated by a veterinarian.

Thus, it becomes extremely important for a cat owner to know when to take their cat to the vet for a normal checkup and when it is absolutely necessary to do so, that is, in the case of a cat vet emergency.

Adult cats, aged one to seven years old, should be taken at least once a year to the vet even if they seem healthy. Kittens and senior or old cats, on the other hand, should be taken every month till they are a year old and twice a year respectively.

Other than annual or biannual vet visits, cats should also be taken to the vet immediately if they have trouble breathing, vomiting, difficulty while jumping or moving, unusual amount of grooming, or changes in behavior, appetite, litter box usage, etc. 

Actually taking a cat to the vet can be a daunting task but it can be made easier by first letting the cat explore the carrier it will be carried inside and keeping treats or some catnip inside it. Minimizing the time a cat spends inside the carrier is also a great trick to keep them calm and make them less afraid of the carrier.

FAQs about cat veterinarian

1. Why does my cat not like the vet?

A cat’s aversion towards the vet starts from the very trip taken to get to the vet’s office. In other words, most cats hate traveling. It is also possible that they do not feel comfortable inside their carrier or crate.

Strange noises, smells, and environments scare them, plenty of which can be found in a vet’s office as well as during the checkup in the form of sounds of other animals, smell of disinfectants and medicines, the vet’s hands touching them and more. As predators, they perceive these as threats and thus, their natural instinct is to run away or escape to protect themselves. Since they cannot escape, this makes them scared.

2. What happens at a cat’s first vet visit?

A kitten’s first vet visit should be done when they are about six to eight weeks old. While making an appointment, the veterinarian might ask you to bring a stool sample, which can be collected by putting it in a plastic bag.

You should also take all information and paperwork that you have about the kitten, obtained from the adoption agency. The vet will examine the stool sample for intestinal problems and check your kitten’s eyes, mouth, ears, paws, and look for heart murmurs. The vet will also give the cat its first dose of vaccines and inform you when the next dose is to be given. You can also ask them any questions about cat behaviors, diet and nutrition, training, etc.

3. Will vet put down a healthy cat?

No, a vet will never put down a healthy cat. A vet can and will refuse to euthanize a healthy cat despite its owner requesting them to do so. Even if a cat is suffering from a serious or life-threatening disease, no vet will agree to put down a pet if it can be treated and made healthy again.

A vet will only agree to put down a cat if they are suffering from a terminal or remediless disease. When a cat owner wants a vet to euthanize their healthy cat, it becomes the vet’s moral obligation to refuse and suggest other options such as relocating the cat to another home or an animal shelter where the cat will be taken care of.

4. Can a vet take your cat away?

No, a vet cannot take your cat away from you for no good reason. They may take your cat away on a temporary basis if they have to perform a surgery. This is so that the process can be made simpler and faster.

A vet taking a cat away from the owner on a permanent basis happens in very rare cases, particularly where the owner has been extremely abusive in their treatment and behavior towards the cat. So if you love your kitty, you have no reason to worry about the vet taking your cat away from you.

5. Is vet cat food really better?

The debate around vet-recommended cat food versus other cat food brands has always been controversial. However, it is always best to consult and trust a well-experienced veterinarian who knows about your cat’s health status in particular.

Along with that, it is also helpful to look at the ingredients and formulation of each kind of cat food and relate it to your cat’s particular requirements. For example, neutered cats might do well with a diet with less calories to prevent them from becoming overweight.fewer

6. How often do cats need vaccines?

If your cat has received the full course of vaccinations as a kitten, then it will receive booster shots every year. However, if your cat spends all its time indoors, then it may receive booster shots every three years after the vet has deemed it to be at low risk.

On the other hand, outdoor cats need to get booster shots more regularly as they continuously interact with the environment and are at high risk of being affected by diseases or infections. Some core vaccines for cats include vaccines for feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia, and rabies.

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