Your new cat’s first veterinarian visit is incredibly important. Depending on where you got the cat (shelter, breeder, next door neighbor, a stray that wandered into your yard), will determine what the vet needs to do. Perhaps you’ve been told and/or given proof that the cat is already up-to-date on her vaccinations. Has she been spayed (neutered if a boy)? Does she have fleas? Has she shown signs of having worms?
Be prepared for the veterinarian to quiz you on various issues and have your own questions ready to ask, too.
Your cat will receive a complete physical exam. It can include the following, but each veterinarian has their own checklist of procedures:
>Rectal temperature taken, check anal glands, and express them, if necessary.
>Ears checked – Mites are common but easily treatable. Check for unusual drainage or buildup of earwax.
>Eyes and nose are checked
>Heart and lungs are checked for heart murmurs, asthma, fluid build-up.
>Organ Palpation – checking reproductive organs, kidneys, bladder, and abdomen.
>Coat/fur examined for fleas, matting, overall health.
Sometimes tests are recommended, such as: having blood drawn, x-rays, or obtaining a fecal sample. The fecal sample can show signs of worms. You may have been asked to bring in a fecal sample when the appointment was made.
Your cat will receive vaccinations (or “shots”, as the average person tends to call them) and be tested for two serious communicable diseases. The veterinarian will suggest setting an appointment for a future spay or neuter, if your cat hasn’t already been sterilized. If you have no intention of breeding your cat, please have your cat spayed or neutered. You and your cat will be happier and she’ll be healthier plus if there are any encounters with the opposite sex, NO pregnancies = NO more kittens to worry about entering this over-populated cat world. The vet may ask if you want the cat declawed. I recommend, “NO!” Your cat needs her claws. Removing them is surgical amputation of the first joint of the cat’s toes. Read more about Declawing here.
Here are more details on the above —
Vaccinations: If you adopted your cat from a shelter, she may have received vaccinations. The same goes for breeders, but they will inform you of what the cat/kitten has had done. A stray will most likely need “the works” since the cat can’t tell you about her past. If you get a cat from anyone else (example: answering a “Free Cat” advertisement), simply ask them what, if any, shots the cat has had and when. Certain vaccinations are crucial to the cat’s health.
Testing for FIV and FeLV: What the heck are those, you ask?
>FIV is sometimes given the nickname Cat AIDS. Spelled out: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. It’s not a good thing at all. It is not spread by casual contact, although it can be transmitted to kittens in the womb by the mother if she has it. Normally, FIV is spread through saliva to the blood (bites).
>FeLV – spelled out is Feline Leukemia Virus. It passes from one cat to another through grooming, sharing food, and other casual contact. Scary and also not a good thing for a cat.
Spay or Neuter: As mentioned earlier, it prevents unwanted pregnancies and helps reduce potential health and behavioral problems in cats.
Declawing: Some veterinarians offer declawing as a routine procedure tacked on to when the cat gets spayed or neutered. BE SURE TO ASK if they automatically perform this surgery and ask that they DON’T do it, unless you really have your mind set on this highly-invasive, non-reversible procedure. If you’re worried about furniture getting scratched, introduce your kitty to a nice scratching post or pad. And there are products available to discourage scratching/clawing, such as a liquid to spray on furniture, etc.
One more subject the veterinarian is likely to ask you about is whether you want your cat micro-chipped. It is a very simple injection in the back of the neck which implants a tiny device under the skin. Say your cat escapes the house and sprints off out of sight. Someone, somewhere, catches your cat and decides to take it to a vet’s office to see if she’s been micro-chipped and to locate the owner. If she has a micro-chip, a hand-held scanner will detect it and information from the chip relays who the cat belongs to. They call you on the phone and you’re reunited with your cat! All ends well!
If your cat has fleas, ear mites, worms (and there are several type of these disgusting parasites), or any other health issues, this will be discussed and what needs done to correct the problem.
The veterinarian may tell you the cat will need a booster shot after a certain amount of time. Otherwise, your cat will return in a year for another exam and specific shots. Obviously the first veterinary visit for your new cat, and any follow-up appointments for spaying/neutering or booster shots, etc., will likely be your most expensive visits. If your cat gets a thumbs up on her health, hopefully the basic, annual appointment will be all she needs for many years.
Jessie says: I was a stray and needed “the works” done to me. Whew-it was a long to-do list! But my veterinarian is super sweet and gave me lots of love!
Gina says: Luckily Jessie remained calm with the veterinarian or the assistant. With her being a stray, we had a checklist we followed in a specific order. First, she was given a quick exam and checked for a micro-chip to confirm she didn’t belong to someone (she didn’t). Then, the FIV and FeLV blood tests were done to make sure she didn’t have those diseases-I recall sweating waiting for the results (she was fine). Then a more thorough exam, vaccinations, her spaying was arranged along with micro-chipping for the very next day (and during the time she was there for the spaying, they trimmed her nails and cleaned her ears and did more blood tests and a fecal test), and when I took her home I had ear mite medicine and a de-wormer. Lordy! But she didn’t have fleas! Amazing.