What should I have the vet check for in a new cat?
If you're getting a new cat, whether it's a brand new kitten or an older cat whose history you aren't sure of, you need to check it up at the vet before you take it home. This is ESPECIALLY important if you've already got any other animals, dog or cat. Don't just bring them home with you. There are a number of contagious diseases and parasites a new pet could have, and you always want to keep it away from old pets until you have it fully checked out.
What are the big things to watch out for?
1) Parasites. This means fleas, heartworms, earmites, and ringworms. These are very likely to get onto other pets, so a check for all these is a must. If you don't have another pet, fleas are the one to watch for. An infestation is a big hassle, as the rest of this web site will tell you.
2) Get them tested for any diseases the vet thinks they might be exposed to. Feline AIDS and Feline Leukemia are common ones. It is much more important to do these tests if you have other pets.
3) Neutering/spaying. Always, always makes sure this gets done. Your life will be much easier, and the cat will be healthier and happier. Some people are squeamish about it - but it's not a person, it's a cat. They don't know what they're missing. This is not a "must-do" on your first visit, but you should schedule it then. If it's a kitten, make sure to ask your vet if it's old enough to get it done - you usually can't until about 7 weeks at the earliest.
4) Vaccinations. There are a number of them - some will likely be mandatory in your area, some not. BUT - you should make sure you read about the risk of getting cancer associated with some cat vaccines. It's not all of them, but for rabies and feline leukemia you have to be careful to get the right shots.
5) Generally, just talk with the vet about what you might not know about cats. They aren't that complicated pets to own. But it's a good idea to understand the common problems pet owners run into. That way you don't panic when something normal happens (i.e., thinking the cat is ill when it coughs up a hairball).
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