What is a cat wellness exam?

A cat wellness exam is a physical exam with the doctor looking at your cat in general. We call it a wellness exam when they're not sick, so they're coming in for a routine physical to make sure that everything is going well.

Dr. Heather Kovac
The Drake Center

What will a veterinarian be looking for during my cat's wellness exam?

Of course, we're checking your cat from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tail, so we're looking at all the body systems together, checking their body weight, and taking their temperature—we're going to be able to find something that's abnormal on your pet during that exam.

Will my cat's wellness exam require any specific lab work or procedures?

That depends on the cat's age. If it's a young, healthy cat, say two years of age, and current on everything, then no, there isn't going to be any blood work or other lab work that's recommended. But if it's an older cat or a young kitten, yes, there will be some tests that we would recommend for checking their organ function. For kittens, we also recommend screening them for certain viruses.

How does wellness impact the longevity and health of my cat?

The more often we see your pet, the more likely we're going to find something at an early stage, so a mass that's small versus large, or an early-onset disease versus more severe. Coming in more frequently and having those wellness checkups allows us to find what's wrong, and the prognosis would be better the sooner that we diagnose that.

When should I bring in my cat for a veterinary wellness exam?

Bring the cat to the vet immediately upon adoption. If it's a kitten, you want to bring them in right away, if it's an older cat that you're just adopting from some other source right away. We recommend a physical exam directly after you get the pet to see if there are any problems.

What are some signs and symptoms that my cat might not be feeling well?

Some common things that we see for a cat that's not doing well would be not eating, vomiting or diarrhea, straining to urinate, or feeling listless or lethargic. The cat is probably not doing the things that they would normally do. The cat may not be jumping up onto its favorite resting place so that you could see behavioral changes as well. But typically, you're going to know that they're not feeling well. Hiding is a huge one in cats too. A cat that's usually very social is now under the bed.

What are some possible environmental factors that can affect cat wellness?

Environmental factors would be if you're feeding them too much, they could get overweight. Or the opposite can occur if they're not getting enough nutrition. Here in Southern California, some environmental factors for outdoor cats that we see are rattlesnakes, fleas and ticks, and more contagious diseases and internal parasites. The risk for coyote attacks or being hit by a car goes way up if they go outside as well.

Why is early detection still important to the wellbeing of my cat?

Cats are the masters of disguise. They love to pretend they're okay until they can't hide it anymore. Many times we can't pick up on these things until the disease is advanced. The sooner we can come in and get those healthy checkups, we might detect something at an earlier stage, and the prognosis would be much better.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 456-9556, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Cat Wellness Exams - FAQs

Dr. Heather Kovac
The Drake Center

How often should my cat get a wellness exam?

How often a cat should get a wellness exam depends on the age of the pet. If it's a kitten, we recommend them coming in very frequently up until about six months. We might even see them every three weeks for a checkup while they're getting their boosters. Once they're an adult, we recommend once a year, and then, once they become a senior, we recommend wellness exams every six months. Cats are considered seniors around the age of eight years old.

Is there ever a reason cats will need more than one annual wellness check?

If there's a disease process going on, the doctor will recommend seeing your pet again. Again, we recommend exams every six months for a cat that's eight or older, but let's say the cat has a kidney problem, then we might want to see them every three or four months.

Do kittens need more wellness exams than adult cats?

We're initially going to see kittens right after you adopt them. And then we need to see them every three weeks until they're four months old for their vaccine series. And then when they're about six months old, they're going to be examined again, and that's the time that we do the spay or the neuter.

My cat seems healthy; do they really need a wellness exam?

We recommend at least once a year getting your healthy cat into the vet to check their body weight, go over their diet and nutrition, and conduct the physical exam to ensure there isn't a problem that you just can't see.

How often does my cat need dental checkups at the veterinarian?

We'll check the teeth every time you come in, as we do that as part of the physical exam. And every cat is different in how often they need proper cleaning. We recommend teeth brushing at home or maybe even feeding a specific dental food based on the health of the mouth. The doctor will then make the recommendation on yes, it's time for a cleaning or, no, I think we can wait maybe six months. Let's recheck it then, so that is very dependent on the oral health of the cat.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 456-9556, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.