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Just for Kids: Taking Your Cat to the Vet

By: Virginia Wells

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Soon after you get your new kitten or cat, you should take him to a veterinarian for a checkup. The doctor will check your cat to make sure he is healthy. You should do this once year.

When you take your cat for his checkup, keep him in an escape-proof carrier. He might be frightened and try to run away. Veterinarians like carriers that open from above so they can remove your pet easier.

Keep your cat from being friendly with other animals in the waiting area. Some animals may have diseases that are "catchy"; others may not be friendly and may hurt you or your cat.

The Examination

Your veterinarian will give your kitty a physical examination much like you get when you visit the doctor. Here are some of the things the doctor will do:

  • Weigh your kitty and take his temperature. Your veterinarian will also take your pet's pulse and breathing rate.
  • Look inside your cat's mouth to make sure the teeth and gums are nice and healthy.
  • Look inside your cat's ears to make sure there are no infections or parasites.
  • Examine the eyes, nose, skin and under the tail to make sure there is no infection or parasites.
  • Listen to your pet's heart and lungs.
  • Touch your cat's stomach to feel the organs inside.
  • Check your cat's genitals. If your pet is a male, your veterinarian will make sure there are two testicles; if the cat is female, your doctor will check that there is no infection.

    You probably won't be able to hold your cat while the doctor examines him. An assistant may help the doctor hold your pet during the checkup. The assistant is specially trained to handle animals. Also, your cat might be frightened while he is in these new surroundings with all of those strange sights and smells. He might like it better if you stand in front of him where he can see you. He'll feel better if he knows you are there.

    If your pet is still young, you can get him used to being examined by doing some examinations at home. Once in a while when you are playing with him, gently hold his head still and inspect his ears and eyes and inside his mouth. And then tell him "Good Kitty" when he does a good job.

    Vaccinations

    Kittens need to have some shots to protect them from getting illnesses. These are called vaccinations. Your kitten will need several over a 6- to 12-week period. Older cats need at least two sets of vaccines to be protected from disease. As he gets older he will need to have booster shots every year.

    Your kitten will be given one vaccination that includes protection for several different diseases. These usually include rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia. When the kitten has reached at least 12 weeks of age, he can receive a rabies vaccination. For kittens at risk such as outdoor kittens or multi-cat households, feline leukemia vaccine may be given. There are other vaccines that can be administered and those should be discussed with your veterinarian.

    If Your Cat Is Sick

    You should take your cat to the veterinarian if he is sick or injured. Make sure you can tell the doctor all about your cat, like when he started to be sick and what his symptoms are. If your cat already takes medicine, tell your veterinarian what it is and when he takes it. If you think your pet ate something poisonous or something that could hurt him, take the container with you so your doctor can see it.

    If you don't understand something, ask your veterinarian to explain. When you leave make sure you know what you have to do at home, like giving medicine or returning for more tests. Ask your veterinarian to write everything down.

    When You Get Home

    Do everything the doctor tells you to do. He may want you to give your cat medicine or keep your cat quiet. If your cat doesn't seem to be getting better, or if he seems to be getting worse, make sure you let the veterinarian know.

    Finally, if your pet's doing well after treatment, let your veterinarian know. Knowing your cat is better will make him happy, too.

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