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How often should you take a cat to the vet? Meeting your feline friend's veterinary needs.

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 1/9/2023 Jacob Livesay, USA TODAY

If you’re a cat owner, keeping your pet healthy is a primary concern.

The health of a cat varies largely based on how you take care of it. Indoor cats, for example, can live approximately 10 years longer than outdoor cats. Precautionary health measures like neutering and vaccinations can extend a cat’s life, but those are scheduled procedures, not routine care.

It’s easy to wonder, then, what the routine veterinary needs of your kitten are. Between irregular procedures like neutering or other surgeries, here’s how to make sure your cat is getting its needs met.

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Just curious? We're here to answer life's everyday questions.

How often do you take a cat to the vet?

Sylvalyn Hammond, DVM and spokeswoman for Zesty Paws, says the answer depends on the cat’s age.

“Kittens will need to see the veterinarian every three to four weeks until they reach about four months of age,” Hammond explains. “Adult cats require one wellness exam a year and may need occasional veterinary visits in addition to that to address illnesses or issues. Senior cats (those aged 12 or older), should see the veterinarian every six months, or more frequently if they have a known medical condition.”

Cats of different ages have different medical needs that need to be met in routine veterinary visits.

“Growing kittens need monthly visits to ensure their growth and development are on track, deworm them to rid their gastrointestinal tract of any parasites passed through their mother's milk and for their kitten vaccination series,” says Hammond.

Healthy adult cats don’t require as much attention, but annual check-ups are important to make sure your cat is staying healthy and up to date on vaccinations.

Senior cats require more care, including yearly blood work, urine tests and blood pressure measurements to combat age-related diseases like kidney issues, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, heart problems and more, according to Hammond.

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Signs you should take a cat to the vet

According to Town & Country Veterinarians, the following symptoms are signs your cat could be sick and should go to the veterinarian, even if it’s not time for a check-up:

  • Shows distress such as howling, crying and hiding
  • Abnormal changes in litter box habits
  • Repetitive vomiting
  • Exceptional fatigue
  • Sudden change in their appetite
  • Dragging their back legs
  • Unusual lumps or growths
  • Coughing and breathing changes
  • Nose or eye discharge
  • Trauma from a fight with another cat

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How heavy should my cat be?

Hammond, who serves as a relief veterinarian at All Creatures Veterinary Clinic in Charleston, South Carolina, says healthy kittens should gain one pound per month of life for the first seven to eight months of their lives.

Most adult cats should weigh between 8-12 pounds depending on their stature and breed, according to Hammond, though some breeds like Maine Coon's can weigh twice this amount.

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Is it a problem if my cat is getting hairballs?

“An occasional hairball is not a cause for concern and is fairly common in cats with longer coats,” answers Hammond. “It is not common and acceptable, however, for your cat to cough up hairballs daily."

Hammond says more than one hairball per week is a cause for concern. If your cat’s hairball production worries you, it’s never a bad idea to check with your veterinarian about your cat’s health.

To avoid excessive hairballs, Hammond recommends brushing your cat more frequently and supplementing their diet with products that reduce hairball formation while supporting digestive function and bowel health.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How often should you take a cat to the vet? Meeting your feline friend's veterinary needs.



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