What to Expect at a Kitten's First Vet Visit
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Once you have adopted a new kitten, the process of introducing them to a new home, preparing their basic care needs and simply adjusting to the new force of nature in your life can take some getting used to. Fortunately, this is also an exciting time and it's a privilege to get to know your new friend. This excitement needs to be tempered with some other considerations in starting your cat's life out on the best foot. While it shouldn't provide any worry, it might be difficult to know what to expect at a kitten's first vet visit.
AnimalWised shows you what you can expect at your kitten's first visit to the vet. We'll tell you what the veterinarian will be looking for, what you should do to prepare for the first visit and everything you need to know about future checkups. We'll also detail vaccination schedules to know more about disease prevention.
How old for a kitten's first vet visit?
If you have just adopted a new cat, it is important to know as much as you can about their background. If buying a kitten, you should only purchase them from a reputable breeder. However, since there are so many cats caught up in the shelter system, it is better to adopt if you can. Adoption from a shelter will most commonly happen with adult cats, but you can also adopt kittens. Unfortunately, we won't always be able to know the history of rescue kittens, but experts at the shelter should be able to provide a rough idea.
If you have other pets or animals in the home, it is best to keep them separated from the new arrival until after their first veterinary visit. This is to prevent any parasites, disease or even emotional stress from affecting them at such a young age.
The time to take your kitten to the vet for the first time should be made after their first 8 weeks of life. Ideally, the kitten should remain with their mother and siblings during this time. It is very important in terms of feeding, socialization and protection against disease. This first trip to the vet is designed to give a general exam of the animal. The vet will be able to see if there are any observable problems, highlight any potential genetic issues and provide some general information about caring for your new cat.
What happens on a kitten's first vet visit?
As we said, after 8 weeks is the ideal time for a kitten's first visit. This is, of course, as long as there are no health issues present during this time. Before you take them, you should think of any relevant information you can convey to the vet about the health of your kitten. This includes how you came to adopt them, information you might know about their parents and anything which might be relevant.
During your kitten's first checkup, the veterinarian will do what they can to prevent and detect any possible diseases. They will do this by looking out for the following things:
- Teeth and gums
- Quality of their coat
- Signs of parasites
Your cat's first visit to the vet will also be the time they decide when is best to start their vaccinations. This may be at the 8 week point, but many will wait until three months before administering the first vaccinations. The vet will also carry out their first deworming during the first checkup. One of the reasons to wait before administering vaccinations is to let the deworming product settle.
Part of your kitten's first visit is initiating the bond between the cat and their vet. This is important as the cat will need to stay as calm as possible when going for routine checkups or if there is a veterinary medical problem which needs to be addressed.
The veterinarian will also register the cat by recording the important data such as name, approximate age, origin, diet or any hereditary conditions. This will help for early detection of any related pathologies. Afterwards, the vet will perform the first general exam. At the end of your first visit, the vet should provide you with a booklet of medical data for your cat. In this booklet, you can record the cat's vaccinations, checkup dates and any pertinent information related to their health.
What shots do kittens need?
Your kitten's vaccinations will be administered in the form of an injection. These shots are designed to cover different diseases which are common to felines, especially those which are highly infectious. The first shot your cat will be given is called the feline trivalent. This is because it covers three major infectious diseases in cats. They are:
- Feline panleukopenia (known as feline distemper)
Once these shots are given, your cat will need some time to adjust. You should monitor the kitten especially during this time. There is unlikely to be any adverse reaction, but they may need a little extra care, especially because the process of getting the vaccinations can be traumatic for the cat. After about 5 months, the cat will be given a shot for feline leukemia and after 6 months, it is likely they will also be given a rabies vaccine.
About 3 to 4 months after the first vaccination, the cat will need a booster shot. The booster shot is part of the vaccination schedule which the vet will initiate. This will occur throughout the cat's life to ensure prevention is continued. The type of shot your kitten will receive will also depend on your location. There may be some prevalent diseases in one country or region which are not as high in others.
When to take a cat to the vet
Although we have been talking about a kitten's first vet visit, it is good to know more about what we need to look our for in terms of their overall health. The veterinarian will establish the vaccination schedule, but you should not hesitate to take the cat to the vet if yo think there may be a problem or they display abnormal symptoms.
Here are some of the other reasons you may need to take a cat to the veterinarian:
- If you observe external parasites such as fleas or ticks in their fur, or if you see the presence of internal parasites in their feces (e.g. worms or eggs).
- If they have bee the victim of an accident or received some physical trauma. They may be finding it difficult to walk or there is the presence of a wound.
- If you notice that more than one day goes by without eating.
- If you notice their body temperature has increased or decreased to abnormal levels.
- If you notice they have trouble urinating or they have urine in their blood.
- If they are constipated or have blood in their feces.
- If you notice their coat looks disheveled or they have stopped grooming.
- If they have vomiting or diarrhea for more than 24 hours (sometimes less time if it is a kitten).
- If you have reason to believe they have been poisoned.
- If their behavior changes suddenly for no apparent reason.
Advice for a kitten's first vet visit
Going to the vet for the first time or even simply leaving the security of their home can be a traumatic event for your kitten. This is why it is helpful to take some precautions to ensure there is as little disruption as possible. For this reason, we recommend:
- Have a suitable carrier for your kitten.
- Encourage the kitten to interact with the carrier days before going to the vet. This way they will get used to it and you can provide some positive reinforcement through treats and/or affection.
- Use pheromones for cats if they get nervous during transportation. You can spray some in the carrier to help them feel more at ease.
- Ensure you make an appointment with the vet before you take them. This way the cat will spend as little time as possible in the waiting room in the presence of other animals.
- Pet them on the head, ears and chin to transmit a feeling of calm.
- If you see the cat is anxious, speak in a soothing voice and don't panic.
With these tips your kitten's first visit to the vet should have minimal problems. This means every other time they go to the vet, they should feel more confident and reassured. Don't for get to provide lots of love and affection when they return home.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to What to Expect at a Kitten's First Vet Visit, we recommend you visit our Prevention category.