Have you welcomed a new kitten into your heart and home? If so, it's time to start thinking about getting your new furry friend off to a healthy start in life. Here, you'll find information on what to expect from your kitten's first vet visit and why it's important.

Why Early Veterinary Care is Essential for Kitten Health

Our team at River Oak Veterinary Hospital understands how exciting it is to welcome a new kitten into your family. Of course, you are totally smitten with your kitten but while you are having fun getting to know each other it's important not to forget about the essential healthcare that your feline friend needs to start life out as healthy as possible.

It's likely not something you want to think about, but kittens often carry a variety of highly contagious parasites and infections. Having your adorable kitty examined by a veterinarian right away sets your kitten on a path to optimal health, while also protecting other pets and people from any communicable diseases your kitten may be carrying.

We highly recommend booking your kitten's first vet appointment right away, especially if they are exhibiting any troubling symptoms such as persistent scratching, watery eyes, labored breathing, or poor appetite.

When to Take Kitten for First Vet Visit

It is a good idea to take your new kitten to the vet for a checkup as soon as possible. This will allow your veterinarian to check for any parasites or signs of viruses that could be transmitted to other pets (or even people) in your home. Most kittens leave their mothers and head to their new forever homes at about 8 weeks of age, so this is the ideal time to take them for their first vet visit.

A newborn kitten's first vet visit should occur immediately upon finding a newborn without a mother. Contact your vet right away. Your veterinarian will be able to provide you with essential guidance on how to care for your tiny new family member.

New Kitten Vet Visit Checklist - What to Bring

When it's time for your kitten's first vet visit there are a few things you may want to take along, including:

  • 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

If you're taking your kitten to the vet for the first time, make sure to bring any adoption documentation with you. Your veterinarian should also be aware of all treatments and immunizations that have already been administered to the kitten. If you don't know your kitten's medical history, simply mention anything that the breeder or animal shelter workers have told you.

What Happens During Your Kitten's First Vet Visit

The veterinary team will ask you about your kitten's history and do a physical examination. During your kitten's first checkup, your vet will look for signs of parasites such as fleas and mites. The vet will 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.

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.

Typically your kitten will receive their first round of core vaccinations at their first vet checkup. These vaccines will help protect your kitten against potentially serious feline health conditions, specifically Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia, and Chlamydia. It is important to note however that your kitten is not fully protected against these conditions until they have received all of the required rounds of their vaccines. Be sure to speak to your vet about when your new kitty will be fully protected.

Your vet will also discuss the optimal timing for booking your feline friend's spay or neuter procedure, and why this is an important step for you kitty's health.

Additional Testing

Besides a physical examination performed by your vet, your kitten will likely also need a fecal exam and a blood test.

Fecal Exam: You will most likely be requested to bring a fecal sample from your kitten to your veterinarian for testing 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. Many parasites can be transmitted to humans, thus it is critical to remove them from your cat.

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.

Kitten First Vet Visit Cost

The first vet visit, as well as subsequent routine exams, can vary in price from vet to vet, cat to cat, and pet to pet. To get an accurate estimate of the cost of your kitten's first appointment, please contact your veterinary clinic directly.

Questions to Ask Your Kitten's Veterinarian

Here is a list of questions you can ask your vet during the first visit. Of course, there are a myriad of others you can ask, and we encourage you to do so, but these should start you on the road to responsible cat ownership:

  • 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.

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 have a new kitten? Our team would love to help you keep them in tip-top health! Contact our Riverbank vets today to schedule an exam for your adorable new friend.