Just for Kids: Your Kitten’s First Visit to the Veterinarian
When you bring your kitten home, you will want to play with him before anything else. But then as soon as possible you should take him on his first visit to his new veterinarian. In fact, as soon as you know when you are going to pick up your kitten, have your mom schedule an appointment. This is the first and best step in caring for your kitten's health.
When You Arrive
When you first arrive at the veterinarian's office with your new kitten, there will be some paperwork to fill out. Your parents will be asked about information concerning them, such as their address, telephone number and work place. This information is needed to develop a medical record for your kitten.
The clinic will also need information about your pet. His name, age, sex, where you got him and what medical care he has already received. There may be questions about behavior and house breaking.
Next you will be led into the exam room where the technician will weigh your kitten, take his temperature and listen to his heart with a stethoscope. You may have been asked to bring in a sample of his poop. This sample can be given to the technician for testing.
After this, the veterinarian will begin to examine your kitten. He or she will begin by asking a variety of questions. These may include:
- How long have you owned your kitten?
- Where did you get him?
- What type of food is he eating?
- Are you having trouble with house training?
- How are you dealing with chewing?
- What type of toys does he play with?
- How is the kitten getting along with other family members, including other pets?
The veterinarian may then talk to you about behavior, training and feeding. The doctor will be glad to answer your questions if you have any and tell you what to expect as your kitten ages grows. If your kitten is a purebred, there may be things you will need to know about the breed. The veterinarian will also discuss spaying or neutering your kitten and let you know when it should be done.
The Physical Exam
After talking about your kitten, the exam will begin. The veterinarian will check the following:
- The kitten's eyes, ears and teeth to look for any abnormalities
- The skin for abnormalities, dry skin, fleas or ticks
- The tummy for pain, enlarged organs or other abnormalities
- The belly button for an umbilical hernia
- The heart and lungs to detect any heart murmurs, irregular heart rhythm or harsh lung sounds. A stethoscope will be used for this.
- The joints for normal movement and the knee caps to make sure they are not loose
The veterinarian will check everything to make sure your kitten is normal and healthy.
Kittens should be vaccinated beginning at six to eight weeks of age and every three to four weeks until 16 to 20 weeks of age. The kitten's breeder may have given the first vaccination, so the veterinarian will need to know about this so the next dose can be given at the appropriate time.
Your kitten will be given one vaccination that includes vaccines 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.
The veterinarian will also give a dewormer because nearly all kittens are born with roundworms. At least two doses of dewormer are recommended three weeks apart.
Your veterinarian will talk to you about parasite prevention, like heartworm, flea and tick prevention. There are several medicines young kittens can have and your veterinarian will tell you what to use.
At the end of the visit, your veterinarian will let you know when you should bring your kitten back for additional vaccinations. Usually, this is three to four weeks later. This continues until your kitten is 16 to 20 weeks of age. At that point, he will get adult vaccines, which may be every year or every 3 years.
The kitten will probably visit the veterinarian to be neutered (or spayed if she is a girl) when he is about four to six months of age. Then, he will have a check-up every year until he reaches seven years of age.
By taking your kitten to the veterinarian regularly, he should grow up to be strong and healthy just like you.