So you have just brought home a little bundle of joy. Congratulations! But make sure you're scheduling your first veterinary appointment, as well as routine exams going forward. To help you prepare, our Los Angeles vets discuss what to expect at your kitten's first appointment.

When you bring home a kitten, it must be examined by a veterinarian. This is important not only for your kitten's health but also to ensure that it does not share any communicable infections. If the kitten shows signs of illness, such as watery eyes, sneezing, difficulty breathing, or inability to eat, it should be examined as soon as possible.

Do I need to bring anything?

Some things are nice to have ready before the initial checkup, whether you go immediately to the doctor after picking up your new kitten or after a day or two at home. These include:

  • 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

You should bring any documentation pertaining to the adoption of your kitten with you if you are taking it to the veterinarian for the first time. Any previous treatments or immunizations that have been administered to the kitten should also be brought to the attention of your veterinarian. To prevent yourself from forgetting what you were told during the adoption, you should write it down if this is not possible.

What happens during the physical exam?

The staff and veterinarian will interview you and perform a physical examination on your kitten. They will also look for other parasites such as fleas and mites. Your kitten's eyes, ears, lips, skin, coat, and entire body will be examined by the veterinarian. This includes palpating the abdomen to feel the organs and listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. A stool sample may also be collected to determine whether you have any underlying health problems.

Kittens should be adopted when they are 8 to 10 weeks old for the best health, weaning, and socialization. If your kitten is young, particularly if it is 6 weeks or younger, the veterinarian will need to examine its nutrition and hydration status and recommend any necessary supplements.

Will my kitten need any lab tests?

Yes, your kitten will likely need both a fecal exam and a blood test.

Fecal Exam: You will almost certainly be asked to bring a fecal sample from your kitten to your veterinarian for testing for parasites such as intestinal worms, giardia, and other possible issues. Because not all intestinal parasites are detected by fecal tests and a significant percentage of kittens have them, your vet may administer deworming medication at each appointment. Many parasites can be transmitted to humans, so removing them from your cat is critical.

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.

How much will the first vet visit cost?

The first vet visit, as well as subsequent routine exams, can vary from vet to vet, cat to cat, and pet to pet. For an accurate estimate of cost, please contact your veterinarian directly.

What questions should I ask at my kitten's first vet visit?

Here is a list of questions to ask your veterinarian at your first visit. Of course, you can ask many more questions, and we encourage you to do so, but these should help you get started on the path 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.

Do you need to schedule your kitten's first veterinary appointment? Contact our Los Angeles vets today to make sure your new family member gets the best possible start in life.