If you’re saying, “My cat hasn’t been to the vet in years,” this article is for you. It’s also for you if you want to learn more about why felines need to see a veterinarian. You can be assured that we don’t shame people around here. We get it, life happens and seemingly-healthy pets can lapse in their check-ups. But, if your cat is overdue for a vet visit, take a deep breath. You’re going to fix this. Keep reading to learn how to get back on track for your fur baby’s health and well-being.
Let’s get started!
How Often Should You Take Your Cat to the Vet?
Regular veterinary care is crucial for maintaining your cat’s health and well-being. Generally, it’s recommended to schedule a comprehensive examination for your cat at least once a year. It’s sort of like a human’s annual physical. This check-up allows the veterinarian to assess your cat’s overall health, administer necessary vaccinations, and address any concerns or potential medical conditions.
Older cats or those with pre-existing conditions may require more frequent visits, possibly every six months. It varies depending on the cat, but seniors may need their health monitored more closely, particularly if they’re being treated for something. New medical concerns can pop up more frequently during this life stage, just like in humans.
In addition, a rabies shot is legally required for cats in over half of the United States. This will require a visit to the vet, and they keep a record to ensure your pet is up-to-date on mandatory vaccines. Rabies laws vary from state to state, so do your research to make sure you fall within legal limits for cat owners. Regardless of legal requirements, vaccinations are strongly recommended for cats. Core vaccines, including those for rabies, feline panleukopenia, feline herpesvirus, and feline calicivirus, are typically recommended by veterinarians to protect the cat’s health and prevent the spread of diseases.
What Happens If My Cat Hasn’t Been to the Vet in Years?
While cats can survive without going to the vet for extended periods, their overall health and lifespan are significantly enhanced by regular veterinary care. We recommend scheduling routine check-ups and establishing a relationship with a trusted veterinarian to ensure the ongoing health and well-being of your fur baby.
If your cat hasn’t been to the vet in years, there can be various consequences. Regular veterinary care is essential for cats to ensure early detection and prevention of potential issues. Without regular check-ups, underlying health conditions, infections, or diseases may go unnoticed and progress to a more advanced stage before you notice symptoms. For example, a cat could have undiagnosed dental problems, parasites, or chronic conditions that could have been managed or treated with appropriate medical intervention.
While some cats may appear fine without routine veterinary care, it doesn’t mean they are completely exempt from health risks. Felines are masters at hiding signs of illness, and by the time symptoms become apparent, the condition may have already progressed detrimentally. Regular vet visits allow for preventive care, early diagnosis, and timely treatment, leading to a better quality of life for your cat.
Why People Don’t Take Their Cats To The Vet
There are several reasons people don’t take their cats to the vet. It may be financial concerns or the fear of bad news, especially with older cats. Or perhaps the cat gets stressed out and anxious in cat carriers needed to transport it to the vet. Others may think their pet seems fine, so why take the time for a vet visit?
These are all valid concerns, especially when it comes to finances. But finding affordable vet care is possible. Once you’ve found a veterinarian within your budget, try working past your other reasons for not going. Deprioritization of your cat’s vet appointments, thanks to the above reasons and life, can put your fur baby at significant risk.
How Do I Reestablish Vet Care for My Cat?
Reestablishing vet care for your cat, can be accomplished in a couple of steps. We’ll get to those, but let’s first look at some questions you may have or reasons you’ve hit the pause button.
Will the vet shame you?
There’s a risk the vet will shame you for letting so much time pass before bringing your cat in. But, (and this is a huge but!) don’t let that stop you, and don’t let it affect you! It’s none of your veterinarian’s business why you didn’t schedule an appointment sooner or what life circumstances led you to this point. You’re taking your cat to the vet now and that’s all that’s important. If they’re smart, they’ll keep their opinions to themselves, or they may lose you to another, more understanding, veterinarian in town.
Will the vet order a huge amount of tests?
It’s possible the vet may want to order tests during a visit with your cat. This usually depends on what the exam reveals. Things may have changed drastically since your last visit. However, asking analytical questions will help you understand why and if the tests are needed and the cost. For example, don’t be afraid to question whether a particular test will change the treatment plan, especially if it’s out of your budget. If it’s too costly, ask for alternatives.
Will it be super expensive?
Expect exam fees and vaccination costs at the minimum. We recommend asking how much the bill will be for those when you make the appointment so that you’re prepared. If it’s too much, call around to see if there’s a vet or clinic near you that charges less. Exam fees are usually around $50-70 and vaccinations can be about $30/piece. Expect to spend around $150 for an annual vaccination visit.
Since your cat hasn’t been to the vet in a long time, they may want to you come back for a booster shot in a few weeks. Depending on if it’s an indoor or outdoor cat, it may also need different vaccines, tests, or preventatives.
Remember, you don’t have to perform any of the tests if you don’t want to. Talk to the vet about your financial situation and see if there are any low-cost options available for your cat’s care.
Should I Take My 20-Year-Old Cat To The Vet?
We get it, you’re scared. Only you can answer whether or not to take your old cat to the vet. Likely deep down you know the answer. You may fear the trip will be too stressful for it, or you may fear it’ll get a terminal diagnosis. Even worse, what if the vet recommends putting them down?
No one is going to take your cat away from you, and only you can make the decision to proceed with any procedure or medical treatment. But you can’t do anything if you don’t know. Your vet can be an ally in keeping your pet comfortable and healthy for more years to come. They can also let you know if something is going on, what to watch for to ensure the best possible quality of life and help you prepare for the peaceful end of your old cat’s days.
Pro Tip: Your pet may benefit from a cat muzzle when going to the vet.
Step 1: Make the Appointment
Okay, so we’ve established your cat hasn’t been to the vet in years. The first step in reestablishing vet care is to make the appointment. It may seem obvious, but this phone call is important. Particularly if you’re nervous about going to the veterinarian with your cat, take things one step at a time. Just remember, a medical professional is the only one that can properly care for the cat you love so much.
When you call to make the appointment, be sure to ask any questions that may be on your mind. Better yet, make a list before you call. We also recommend asking about the cost so you’re prepared financially. You can let the vet know that you’re simply looking for an annual check-up at this point. However, if you have a concern about your cat’s health be sure to divulge that when you make the appointment.
Step 2: Plan for Ongoing Cat Vet Care
Doing an initial vet appointment shouldn’t be a one-off thing. Plan for ongoing care for your fur baby, so set a reminder in your phone calendar one year from now to do this again. You’ll be better prepared when anything comes up health-wise if you plan for care, rather than letting it get away from you or being surprised when symptoms of a medical condition arise.
Regular vet visits help prevent or detect diseases early on but also provide an opportunity to discuss nutrition, behavior, and other important aspects of your cat’s care. By adhering to a consistent veterinary schedule, you can ensure that your beloved companion enjoys a long, happy, and healthy life.
Do Cats Remember Vet Visits?
Cats have a unique memory capacity. While some cats may remember the vet and associate it with a stressful experience, others may not retain specific memories of the visit.
However, they can exhibit signs of anxiety or stress before, during, or after vet visits due to the unfamiliar environment, handling, or medical procedures. These stressful experiences can be overwhelming for cats and may result in short-term anxiety or even post-traumatic stress-like symptoms.
It’s essential for veterinarians and cat owners to take measures to minimize stress during vet visits, such as providing a calm and quiet environment and gentle handling. Building a positive association with their cat carrier and the vet through treats, play, positive reinforcement, and regular visits can help reduce anxiety and make future visits more manageable for cats and you.
How Do I Help My Cat Calm Down at the Vet?
Speak to your cat in a soothing voice, pet, and cuddle it during the vet visit. Knowing you’re there will help and you’re relaxed will help. So, if you have anxiety about the situation, do your best to calm down before the drive to the vet.
Unless directed otherwise by your vet, try not to feed your cat a few hours prior to the visit. This can help reduce vomiting if it becomes overly anxious. Some cats will benefit from going to the vet in a carrier to feel extra secure. As a last resort, if your pet simply can’t handle the vet, you can ask for medications to calm it down.
Ignorance Isn’t Bliss When It Comes to Cat Health
Keep your cat healthy and increase its life expectancy with regular vet care. Unfortunately, ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to your cat’s health. If your cat hasn’t been to the vet in years, it’s time to take that first step and make an appointment. Stay informed and on top of it so that you can have your cat’s companionship for as long as possible.
Have you established a relationship with your veterinarian? Share any tips you have in the comments below.
Stay Informed – Join the HypePets Community!
If you’re like us, your pets are like family. Stay up to date on the latest news, info, tips, and gear to help your pet live its best life!
Also, join the conversation over on our HypePets Discord server!