You always want to do right by your cat, so taking proper care of them by taking them to the vet at proper intervals is an essential detail for a full health profile. The thing is, vet care can be expensive, and it can be hard to book an appointment and/or get your cat into a crate to carry them there. So, understanding proper care timings is crucial. Let’s take a look.
What is the basic minimum for taking your cat to the vet?
Below, we’ll go over the basic minimum that you definitely need to take your cat to the vet so that you know for sure that you’re taking proper care of them. The essential vet trips would be:
- Routine Health Assessments: Cats are great at hiding when they are not well so the yearly exam is so important to catch things early. At these appointments your veterinarians will take a complete history to see if there are any potential “flags” for disease, and will perform physical examinations which will include evaluation of their weight and body condition. Your vet will recommend an appropriate vaccination schedule to prevent disease based on your cat’s risk factors and may suggest lab work pending the history provided, physical examination findings, and age of your pet. There are several diseases that are common in senior cats, and early diagnosis is important. This annual exam provides a good focus on preventative medicine.
- Getting your cat their vaccinations: Cats need regular immunizations, just like dogs, but recommendations can vary for how frequently to do these. Some vets will recommend different intervals for immunizations for cats, depending on their way of life and exposure risk (vaccinations for indoor only cats might be every 3 years, while for more outdoor cats some vaccines may be yearly). Whatever your vet recommends for proper vaccinations and immunity for your cat, make sure that you take their advice!
- Dealing with an obvious health emergency: If there is obviously something wrong with your cat that needs immediate attention, this is going to require a vet visit for assessment. This could include an injury, difficulty breathing, potential toxin ingestion, decrease in level of alertness, missing more than a couple of meals, or when there are concerns for dehydration (ongoing vomiting, diarrhea, especially with lethargy and decreased food and water intake).
- Getting advice if you notice something is off: Perhaps something just seems off about your cat’s behavior or general demeanour. Maybe they’re lethargic, losing weight, eating less, seem painful or agitated. If you suspect that something is off with your cat, you might want to consider a trip to the vet to ensure that they are okay.
Different types of vet appointments
The reason for your vet visit determines whether your cat needs a regular vet appointment or an emergency vet appointment. Emergency vet appointments may sometimes cost somewhat more at 24-hour care specialty hospitals.
In areas that do not have nearby 24-hour care specialty hospitals, emergency appointments also might include the need for vet care outside of business hours, such as in the middle of the night and on weekends. Since a vet and potentially a team of workers might have to be called in, this could also have extra cost for needing the appointment at a strange hour.
Is an emergency vet appointment worth the money?
The truth is that emergency vet appointments are often more expensive than routinely scheduled appointments. Many financially strapped cat parents wonder: is the appointment worth the money?
In a lot of cases, your vet may be able to provide advice as to whether or not you can wait for a regular appointment slot as opposed to an emergency appointment. Despite popular belief, vets are not out to take your hard-earned money and may encourage you to wait until a normal appointment opens up (such as getting on a cancellation list) if they feel that your cat will be okay until then.
If your vet strongly recommends having your vet evaluated through an emergency appointment, it’s because they feel that your cat won’t be okay to wait. They might fear long-term health concerns or even that it could be a matter of life or death.
They will leave it up to you to choose whether or not to make the appointment, but please keep your cat’s health front of mind when deliberating what the right approach is!
What kind of services can my vet provide?
Vets do more than perform surgery and give vaccinations! Vets can be a great support for everything from nutritional advice to nail trimming (yes, cats should have their nails clipped regularly, just like dogs). While many pet owners don’t want to waste money on unnecessary vet appointments, you can ask your veterinary clinic staff about arrangements for these kinds of additional services.
What is the average number of vet trips per year?
Every cat and every vet are different, but you can expect that most cats will go to the vet at least once a year for a health assessment.
However, it is wise to prepare and budget for something else like an injury or concern that requires another vet visit.
Sure, there are fees for every appointment, but when you think about two trips to the vet per calendar year, that’s not too bad! Of course, treatment procedures and emergency surgeries can add up in a hurry.
If your budget is tight and you cannot afford a sudden bill for expensive diagnostics and treatment, it is wise to consider investing in pet insurance, or else saving some money each month for a pet emergency fund, to cover costs of unexpected vet visits.
Vet care is just as important for felines as it is for canines
It’s tempting to want to skip vet appointments for cats, especially if they are inside-only and you have no dogs. However, yearly check-ups are important for dental health, skin and fur health, and more. Vets, like human health care doctors, are often the first to spot a budding health problem for cats that you can treat easily if caught early. If caught late due to a missed appointment, it can lead to a more expensive appointment and distress for you and your cat.
When you are looking at getting the most out of your vet visit for your cat, understanding the different roles and timings for that visit is going to help you determine just how often you should take your cat to the vet, and what you should have your vet do while you are there!