When to Take a New Kitten to the Vet

Veterinarian hands examining kitten
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Adding a new kitten to the family is always exciting. Sometimes it is a pre-planned and highly anticipated event, sometimes it is a spontaneous adoption-rescue. Either way, along with shopping for all of the new necessary items like food, dishes and litter boxes, be sure to schedule in some time for that first vet check.

There isn't a set age for the first vet visit. The simplest answer is to have the first vet check 24-72 hours after adopting the kitten, and preferably before bringing the kitten home if you already have cats in the home.

Circumstances such as a rescued kitten, or other urgent adoption may make a pre-adoption vet visit impossible. In this situation, keep the new arrival quarantined in a bathroom or other space that is separate from the other cats with a separate litter box, food and water bowls. This will reduce the change of spreading disease or parasites to the resident cats.

I see many kittens that are "available for adoption" at age 6 weeks. This is too young, in my opinion. If possible (i.e. the mother cat is still around and nursing the kittens), the kittens should be adopted out at age 9 - 10 weeks or older for optimal health, weaning time and socialization.

That said, I realize that in many situations, kittens may not have this luxury of time before being placed in an adoptive home. If your kitten is young, especially younger than 6 weeks of age, please see your veterinarian immediately to assess the nutrition and hydration status and to provide assistance with any needed supplementation.

Typically, the first vaccination is administered between age 6 to 9 weeks. A healthy mother cat who is up to date on her vaccinations will afford her kittens the best start in life. If your kitten is sneezing or having any other health problems, vaccinations will wait until he or she is healthy. It is also recommended to bring in a fecal sample to test for intestinal parasites and other parasites such as fleas or mites.

Learn more about cat parasites.

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As always, if you have any question about your cat or wonder when you should schedule an exam, please call your vet to discuss. Establishing a relationship with your vet and a new pet is always smoother in a non-emergency situation. Find out the clinic hours and who to call for emergencies will put you ahead of the game.