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Written by leading veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.

The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.


If you’ve just adopted a new cat, you probably have questions about what kind of care your new friend needs. So let’s talk a little bit about that today. Specifically, I’d like to focus on what type of veterinary care you should expect to be necessary.

Your first order of business should be getting your cat examined by your veterinarian. Cats need regular veterinary care. You should plan on making examinations part of your cat’s regular routine. Most veterinarians recommend examinations at least once to twice a year, depending on your cat’s age and physical condition. If your cat has medical issues, more frequent examinations may be necessary. Your veterinarian will help you determine what schedule works best for your cat.

When you bring your new cat to the veterinarian for that initial physical examination, be sure to bring any medical records, too.

Vaccinations are essential for all cats. However, vaccination schedules should be tailored to your cat’s individual lifestyle. Talk with your veterinarian about which vaccinations your cat should receive and how often.

You will also want to make sure your new feline friend is free of parasites and remains free of them. Kittens are usually dewormed routinely for common intestinal parasites like roundworms and hookworms. Your veterinarian may recommend doing so for your cat also, especially if your cat is still young. You should provide your veterinarian with a sample of your cat’s feces for testing; fecal examinations should be performed regularly. Many veterinarians recommend yearly testing.

Parasites also include pests like fleas, ticks and heartworms. Your veterinarian can recommend safe and effective products to help keep your cat free of these parasites. Many of these products need only be used once a month and are easy to apply or administer to your cat.

Knowing your cat’s feline leukemia and feline AIDS status is important. A simple blood test is all that is necessary to test your cat. Hopefully, your new cat will test negative. However, if either test is positive, your veterinarian will make recommendations that can help keep your cat healthy. A positive test for either disease does not need to be a death sentence but does warrant that precautions are taken for your cat.

Besides a feline leukemia and feline AIDS blood test, your veterinarian may recommend doing a blood screen that is more extensive but still routine. A blood screen allows your veterinarian to test for subtle changes in your cat’s major organ systems that may not be detectable otherwise. Often, this is done for the first time around the time your cat is spayed or neutered. After that, your veterinarian may recommend doing blood tests on a regular basis, perhaps once or twice a year depending on your individual cat.

Lastly, if your new cat has not already been spayed or neutered, you should consider doing so as soon as possible. Spaying a female cat reduces the risk of mammary cancer when done at a young age and eliminates the risk of a severe, potentially life-threatening uterine infection known as pyometra. Intact male cats often develop undesirable traits that make indoor life with them difficult, and allowing them outdoors where they will breed is simply irresponsible pet ownership.

These are some of the most important aspects of veterinary care for your cat. However, each cat is different and care should be based on what is best for your particular cat. For instance, older cats may require more specialized testing, special diets, medications, or other types of care, and cats with weight issues may require a weight control program. Your veterinarian should always be your primary source of information about what type of care your cat needs. Functioning as a team with your veterinarian and her staff will ensure the very best care for your new furry friend.

Dr. Lorie Huston

Image: Sebastian Duda / via Shutterstock

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  • Checkup
    12/17/2012 06:53am

    Checkups for my kitties include blood pressure also. This was invaluable in finding a heart problem with one of mine. He had a heart murmur which, by itself, isn't a problem. However, when the doctor got really high and then really low blood pressure readings, he suggested a trip to the cardiologist.

    The kitty was diagnosed with HOCM (hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy) and was put on beta blockers and ace inhibitors.

    He's been doing fine ever since.

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