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Dr. Ruth's Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Vet With Your New Kitten

Reviewed by Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM on Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Posted December 15, 2014 in New-Cat Checklists

Kitten playing with a chair leg

Dr. Ruth MacPete discusses the importance of taking your new kitten for his or her first veterinarian visit. 

Everyone knows that you are supposed to take your pet to the veterinarian, but have you ever wondered why? Here are my top five reasons why you should take your new kitten to the veterinarian:

Make sure your kitten is healthy
When you take your new kitten to the veterinarian, they will do a complete physical examination. During this initial examination, your veterinarian will look for signs of any underlying medical problems. In young animals, congenital problems are of particular concern. “Congenital” refers to conditions, especially diseases or physical abnormalities that are present at birth and range from benign conditions that do not need treatment, such as polydactyly (extra digits), to more serious problems, like a patent ductus arteriosus (a kind of congenital heart defect) that requires a surgical procedure. Identifying congenital problems early is important because many of them, even serious ones like a patent ductus arteriosus, can be corrected. Also, many breeders have a clause in their contract that states that you must see a vet within a specified period of time. Otherwise, they are not liable for a medical issue discovered after that timeframe.

Your veterinarian will also check for signs of an upper respiratory infection (URI). A URI is caused by a virus and is the equivalent of the common cold. In cats, a URI will produce nasal and eye discharge. Although URI’s are often but not always harmless, they are very contagious and can easily spread to other cats you have at home causing a mini epidemic of sneezing, coughing cats with weepy eyes. URI’s are fairly common in crowded settings where cats are under stress, such as pet stores, catteries, and animal shelters.


Unlike URI’s that are essentially harmless, some viral infections are serious and can be lethal. Your veterinarian will also do blood tests to check your new kitten for viral infections, such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV). FIV virus is closely related to HIV. Although it is usually not fatal,

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Ruth has more than 15 years of experience in the veterinary industry as a companion animal veterinarian in private practice. Along with being a writer and media personality, she is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.