How Often Should Indoor Cats Visit the Vet?
Cat at Veterinarian: Getty Images
Petside Advisory Board members share their opinion on taking indoor cats to the vet.
Nancy Taylor, President and CEO, Bideawee: The frequency that a cat should visit a veterinarian is somewhat dependent upon the life stage of the cat. All cats should visit the veterinarian at least once a year. If a cat is a senior or has a history of health problems the cat should visit the vet more frequently to have its health monitored.
Cats are masters of disguise and typically don’t show signs of an illness until it is well advanced. Waiting for a cat to exhibit signs of illness isn't a good approach and will likely result in higher veterinary bills and fewer treatment options to treat a health issue that with early diagnosis would have been easier and less expensive to treat.
Marcie Campion, Ph.D., Scientific Relations Manager, Iams Company: My first thought was “As often as you can actually get them into the carrier and get them to the veterinarian,” given my experience with our black cat Norma .
But transportation logistics and adventures aside, you should take your adult cat to the vet once a year even if they aren’t showing any signs of sickness. This is important for two reasons.
- Each physical and blood workup establishes what is “normal” for an individual cat so it will be easy to tell when things begin to change with age and additional steps are needed.
- Cats are masterful at hiding illnesses even from folks who have had cats for years. It’s part of their survival instinct, which is great in the wild, but not so good if we don’t know that they need additional care.
After age 7 cats are considered “mature adults” and “seniors” after age 11, so they should actually be seen by their veterinarian twice a year beginning at age 7 even if nothing has changed. Cats age faster than humans and any health changes occur much more quickly with cats than with us. When changes that occur with aging are detected earlier, we have a better chance of intervening from both a nutritional and a medical standpoint so that they can live longer, healthier lives.
This has been proven in cats with a nutritional study. In the study, cats were fed either a complete and balanced diet or the same diet with additional nutrients such as antioxidants and a prebiotic called FOS. The cats fed the diet with additional nutrients lived approximately one year longer and also showed less signs of disease as they aged. Now, 1 year doesn’t sound like a lot of extra time, but that equates to about 6 years for you and me. So if I had a choice……I’d take it!
Mike Arms, President Helen Woodward Animal Center: I really haven’t given this matter much thought. I probably should take my indoor cat to the veterinarian more often than I do. I guess I’m one of those individuals that treat my cat the same way I treat myself—if I’m not feeling well for more than a day I might make a doctor’s appointment, and I guess I treat my cat the same way.
All of my cats have lived long lives and I must admit I did not take them for annual check-ups and vaccinations. I am not recommending this to anyone, because I only want the best for our pets, and I believe veterinarians know much more about this than I do. But like many feline owners, we take our cats maybe once every two years.