CatCareforLife recommends a frequency of veterinary health checks for cats in line with recommendations from internationally recognised bodies such as the International Society of Feline Medicine, the American Association of Feline Practitioners, and the American Animal Hospital Association. These guidelines are based on what is regarded as ‘best practice’ for keeping cats in good health and ensuring their wellbeing.
The table gives an overview of how often veterinary health checks should be done during the six different life stages:
Kitten (birth to 6 months) and
For kittens, there may often be an initial health check shortly after birth (within the first few days of life), but full and regular veterinary checks typically begin
by around 8 weeks of age. This is the age when vaccination usually starts, and this generally involves two or three vaccine injections, often finishing at 16 to 20 weeks of age.
However, although vaccination of kittens is critical to protect them against important infectious diseases, regular checks during this life stage have many other benefits to ensure the kitten is kept in optimum health. Each check is important, your vet will do a full examination at each visit and discuss many other important aspects of cat care with you as your kitten develops.
It is widely recommended that cats are neutered at around 4 months of age. Cats usually reach sexual maturity between 4 and 6 months of age – neutering at around 4 months of age helps prevent unplanned and unwanted pregnancies and may help to prevent some unwanted behaviours associated with sexual maturity.
During the kitten life stage, when so much needs to be done and when the kitten is developing so fast, regular veterinary visits are thus usually required every 1-2 months.
Junior (7 months to 2 years) cats
For Junior cats, veterinary checks are recommended every 6 months, as this too is a period of rapid change.
Parasite control, vaccination, nutrition, weight management, dental health and environmental/ behavioural health will all be important in this life stage.
Adult (3 to 6 years) and Mature (7 to 10 years) cats
For otherwise healthy cats, during the Adult and Mature life stages, veterinary checks once a year are recommended.
Again, the focus of these visits will generally be on prevention of disease and maintaining the optimum wellbeing for your cat. However, during the Mature life stage, the risk of certain age-related disease starts to appreciably increase and so your veterinarian may suggest some further investigations are done.
Senior (11 to 14 years) and Super Senior (15 years and over) cats
During the Senior and Super Senior years, it is advisable to have cats checked at least twice yearly. This is the time when more obvious signs of ageing may develop and when cats are much more prone to developing a wide range of age-related diseases.
For example, most of us would not leave it more than two years between having dental checks, and dental disease is one of the common problems older cats suffer from. A check-up every two years for us is the equivalent of a 6-monthly check for a cats, and your vet will do much more than just check the teeth!
In addition to routine examinations and discussions, some additional investigations will be recommended during at least some of these examinations, again to help with the early detection or management of disease. This may include collecting blood and/or urine samples for routine tests and checking your cat’s blood pressure.
Age Frequency of examinations
Kitten <6mths Every 1-2mths
Junior 7mths-2yrs Every 6mths
Adult 3yrs-6yrs Yearly
Mature 7yrs-10yrs Yearly
Senior 11yrs-14yrs Twice yearly
Super Senior 15yrs + Twice yearly