Healthcare Basics for Cat Owners: Preventive Care and Veterinary Visits


Ru Chen

- Updated March 21, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Regular health check-ups ensure better health for cats
  • Early detection and treatment improve healthcare results
  • Pet insurance is a good tool to help you save on pet care costs
Healthcare Basics for Cat Owners: Preventive Care and Veterinary Visits

Cats are beloved family members and cherished companions. Preventive care involves a wide range of veterinary services that seek to protect your cat from disease, parasites, poor dental hygiene, and malnutrition. Knowing how to get the most out of your visits to the vet can improve your cat’s overall health and well-being.

In this guide, we will go over the benefits of preventive care, what to expect from a veterinary visit, and other healthcare basics for cat owners.

Understanding Preventive Care

Precautionary care for cats can help extend your cat’s life and ensure they thrive under safe and healthy conditions. It’s important to be proactive when it comes to your cat’s health, which involves taking them to the vet for regular health check-ups. Here are the main benefits of preventive care for cats.

Early detection of disease

During a regular health check-up for cats, vets typically perform physical exams, blood work, lab tests, urinalysis, and other screenings. Analyzing the results allows vets to detect health conditions and risks even before obvious symptoms have set in.

Early detection of health issues lets you employ treatment plans before the problems worsen. The prognosis of an earlier-stage disease is usually much better than a late-stage disease.

Enhanced quality of life

Naturally, a cat who is sick or not eating well will have a worse quality of life. Preventive care plays an important role in improving the day-to-day life of feline companions. If your cat is suffering from pain or a health condition, wellness exams can reveal these issues. Your vet will be able to give treatment recommendations and plans on how to make your cat feel more comfortable. For example, your vet might advise you to make environmental or dietary modifications at home to help your cat feel better.

Improved longevity

With proper preventive care and veterinary exams, your cat can enjoy a longer lifespan. The typical cat lives between 12 to 18 years, with variance occurring based on your cat’s breed, medical history, and other factors.

Cost savings

By detecting health risks and concerns early, you can save money in the long run. A cat who undergoes routine veterinary exams will be less likely to need extensive treatments, emergency interventions, and sudden hospitalizations. It becomes easier to avoid late-stage conditions and preventable diseases that require significant expenses to treat and manage.


Essential Components of Preventive Care

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Cats should receive regular veterinary check-ups throughout their lives. At different stages of a cat’s life, the recommended frequency of visiting the vet differs. If your cat has health conditions, breed-specific risks, or other special circumstances, make sure to visit the vet more often.

Kittens (birth to 4 months old): Every three to four weeks.

Adult cats: At least once a year.

Senior cats: At least once every six months.


Rabies Virus: Core cat vaccine. Rabies is 100% fatal to cats. There is no treatment available, so cats must get the preventive vaccine shot instead.

Feline Distemper: Core cat vaccine. Feline distemper (AKA feline panleukopenia virus) is a severe and contagious disease that is especially dangerous to kittens.

Feline Herpesvirus: Core cat vaccine. The feline herpesvirus causes feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), which is a contagious respiratory condition.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV): FeLV is a retrovirus that hinders a cat’s immune system, leading to plenty of other health issues. The vaccine is particularly recommended for cats that spend time outdoors.

Parasite Control

Cats are vulnerable to numerous parasites, including fleas, ticks, and worms. Preventive care for cats includes testing for parasites. A veterinarian can enact preventive measures, such as topical treatments and oral medications, to reduce the chances of parasites.

At home, you can also check for potential parasites by checking the litter box and looking under your cat’s tail. However, it is critical that you use gloves and follow any veterinary advice regarding parasite control.

Dental Care

Dental hygiene is essential for cats. Good dental health promotes better overall health, while dental and periodontal diseases can worsen a cat’s health risks.

To provide a cat with good dental care, make sure to brush your cat’s teeth regularly. Brushing helps prevent plaque and tartar buildup.

Your vet may prescribe a special dental diet that is designed to support good dental hygiene in cats. An oral rinse for cats can also help your cat maintain good oral hygiene and slow down the progression of dental disease.

Nutrition and Weight Management

A balanced diet is vital for a cat’s overall health. It ensures a healthy body weight, proper organ function, and a general sense of well-being in cats.

Make sure to select the right cat food for your cat. Different types of cat food vary in nutrition levels, texture, taste, and price.

Take care to monitor your cat’s portion sizes to avoid overeating and cat obesity. Different breeds have different healthy weight ranges. Certain cats may look to be of a healthy weight but actually be over- or underweight.


Signs of a Healthy Cat

It helps to recognize signs that your cat is doing great. Here are the typical physical indicators of a healthy and happy cat.

  • Clean, well-groomed coat
  • Good appetite
  • Dilated eyes (in both eyes)
  • Forward-facing ears

These are the common behavioral indicators of a healthy and happy cat.

  • Relaxed, stress-free behavior
  • Active
  • Playful
  • Lifted or twitchy tail

How to monitor your cat’s health at home

To see how your cat is doing health-wise, try out the easy, breezy, cat health exam. It involves assessing your cat’s body and behavior for anything unusual, which includes looking at:

  • Your cat’s ears
  • Eyes
  • Nose
  • Under the tail
  • Paws
  • Mouth

When to seek veterinary attention

If you notice any abrupt changes in behavior or physical symptoms, be sure to visit the vet. Alarming symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • One eye’s pupil is larger than the other
  • Sudden distress (e.g. howling, crying, or trying to hide)
  • Vomiting
  • Refusing to eat
  • Lethargic, unable to move around
  • Issues urinating or defecating
  • Unkempt coat or hair loss

Veterinary Visits: What to Expect

    1. Check-in: When you arrive at the veterinary clinic, you will typically be asked to check in at the reception desk. This is when you will be asked to provide basic information about you and your cat, including your cat’s name, age, and health concerns.
    1. Waiting room: You might need to wait your turn to see the vet. If you’re visiting an emergency vet for your cat’s life-threatening conditions or injuries, cases will be prioritized based on a vet triage.
    1. Consult with the vet: Your vet will call you into an examination room. The vet will typically perform a physical exam of your cat to check for illnesses and injuries. They may ask you questions about your cat, their diet, exercise routine, vaccination history, and medical history. During this time, feel free to discuss any concerns you have.
    1. Diagnostic tests: If necessary, your vet might recommend imaging studies, blood work, and other tests to evaluate your cat’s health for a clearer diagnosis.
    1. Treatment plan: Your vet will assess the findings to see whether your cat requires a treatment plan. They will recommend a strategy tailored specifically to your cat’s individual needs.
    1. Follow-up: Often, vets will ask you to schedule a follow-up appointment. This may be for the next routine check-up, monitoring your cat’s situation, or further treatment.
    1. Payment: Finally, you will need to settle any payments at the reception desk. Some pet insurance companies can be directly billed by the vet.

Importance of open communication with the veterinarian

Sometimes, pet owners want to hide symptoms or situations from the vet. It is advisable to communicate honestly and openly with veterinarians who just want the best for pets. Be thorough and truthful when discussing your cat’s health history, symptoms, and lifestyle. The more accurate and complete your information, the better your vet will be able to diagnose your cat and devise an effective treatment plan.

It’s okay to not know what’s happening to your cat. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about your cat’s health. Your vet is here to help you make informed decisions for your cat.

Finally, if you have financial concerns, consider discussing financial options and payment plans with your vet. Many veterinary clinics offer alternative avenues to pet owners who are struggling to afford pet bills.

Questions to ask during the visit

Here are some good questions to ask during a visit to the vet.

    1. Is my cat a healthy weight and eating a good diet?
    1. Do they have any health issues?
    1. Does my cat require any vaccinations?
    1. What parasite prevention measures do you recommend?
    1. What are suitable toys and activities for my cat?
    1. Does my cat need any medical treatment or pain management?
    1. What follow-up care do I need?
    1. How do I monitor my cat’s health needs and changes?

Finding Pet Insurance

Importance of Pet Insurance

Pet insurance helps cover the costs of veterinary expenses, both unexpected and routine. Having pet insurance allows cat owners to save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over time.

After you receive an invoice from your vet, you can file a claim with your pet insurance provider. If the claim is for covered expenses, your insurer will provide you with financial reimbursement.

Factors to Consider

There are three main types of coverage for pet insurance.

1. Accident-only insurance: This plan only covers accidents, with common claims being broken bones, lacerations, and ingesting objects.

2. Accident and illness insurance: Also known as comprehensive coverage, this policy covers both accidents and illnesses. Illnesses include cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and other health conditions.

3. Wellness plan: Typically sold as an add-on, a wellness plan (or preventive care coverage) will cover routine expenses that are otherwise excluded by the typical pet insurance policy. Coverage may include routine health exams, dental cleanings, spay/neuter, vaccines, lab work, and more.

Other than the type of pet insurance coverage, other factors should also be considered when shopping for pet insurance.

Premium: The premium refers to how much you need to pay for each month of pet insurance coverage.

Deductible: This is how much you need to pay out-of-pocket before you can receive insurance coverage.

Exclusions and limitations: Most pet insurance policies have breed restrictions, age restrictions, and coverage exclusions.

Researching Pet Insurance Providers

Take the time to research different pet insurance providers and receive multiple quotes. This helps you select a suitable policy for your cat. Reputable, financially stable pet insurance providers can give policyholders a much smoother, more efficient claims process. Compare your coverage options and read customer reviews to determine what pet insurer best aligns with your budget and needs.

Making the Right Choice

Visit our expertly ranked list of best pet insurance providers to see the pros and cons of top pet insurance companies. Here are some of the best pet insurance companies to consider.

Choosing the right insurance can greatly improve your savings when visiting the vet. If you plan on taking your cat to routine health check-ups, make sure you have the correct wellness plan. Wellness plans are insurance add-ons that cover routine expenses such as:

  • Dental cleanings
  • Vaccines
  • Physical check-ups
  • Spay/neuter
  • Deworming and parasite medications


Preventive care is essential to promoting good cat health. Proactively visiting the vet for routine check-ups allows vets to uncover health issues, prevent diseases, and develop necessary treatment plans.

If you haven’t already, schedule a visit to the vet now. Take that first step to ensure your cat lives long and prospers by providing them with veterinary attention. If you face financial challenges, consider obtaining pet insurance to help you cover vet expenses.

About The Author

Ru Chen

Ru Chen

Content Writer

Ru Chen is a content writer with several years of experience in creating engaging and well-researched articles. She mostly writes about insurance, business, digital marketing, and law. In her free time, she can be found watching horror movies and playing board games with her partner in Brooklyn.

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