Why Do I Need to Take My Indoor Cat to the Vet?
Written by Small Door's medical experts
It’s a common misconception that indoor cats don’t need to go to the vet. While it’s true that contagious feline illnesses are often contracted via contact with animals in the outside world, there are nonetheless many reasons that regular vet visits are important for indoor cats, from the administration of legally required vaccines to catching issues before they become serious.
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Indoor cats can develop many illnesses and conditions that have nothing to do with the outside world, such as issues with weight, hormone problems, genetic conditions, and tumors, among other maladies, so it’s important for them to see the vet for regular check-ups.
Plus, even if they never leave the house, indoor cats can be affected by the outside world, particularly if they’re exposed to any other pets that go outside, such as your dog; someone else’s pet who comes to visit; the occasional stray who wanders into the backyard; or a foster pet. Rodents can also become part of the household without your knowledge. Finally, even you and your family members may inadvertently bring in dangers from outside.
Also, as you know, pets can’t talk to us, and cats in particular are very good at hiding pain and illness. They have a natural instinct to hide any signs of weakness, a skill that would keep them from being easy targets for predators and competitors in the wild.
However, the fact that they’re so good at keeping problems hidden means that by the time they show any symptoms, the problem has likely already become advanced.
Prevention is often far easier, less expensive, and more effective than treatment when it comes to health issues, which is why it’s vital to keep abreast of any changes in your indoor cat’s health through annual vet visits.
Even subtle changes could signal diseases that could be developing—diseases you should catch and handle before it’s too late.
How often your indoor cat needs to visit the vet may vary depending on your cat’s age.
Young kittens should visit the vet once a month until they are 4 months old. This is around the time they should finish all of their necessary kitten vaccinations. Once they become six months old it’s a good time to consider bringing them in to get spayed or neutered. After that, they usually won’t need another wellness visit until they turn 1 year old and are considered an adult cat.
Adult indoor cats should ideally visit a vet for wellness exams every 6 months. This will help your vet get to know your cat, its normal behaviors and weight. This way the veterinarian is more likely to notice illnesses early if there are any fluctuations in these. Monitoring your cat’s health is essential to catching problems before they become a major health issue.
Senior cats, those from 7-9 years of age and older, should get a check-up at least every 6 months, and more frequently if they suffer from any health issues. Many diseases become common in older animals, such as obesity and kidney or liver issues, so it’s important to have them checked frequently so your veterinarian can monitor and treat them as soon as possible. Once your cat becomes 15 years of age and older, they are considered geriatric and should visit a vet every 3 months.
The core FVRCP vaccine is recommended for indoor cats, as it protects against three potentially deadly viruses. These viruses are airborne, which means your indoor cat could still contract them.
Do indoor cats need rabies shots?
The rabies vaccine is required by law in the state of New York for all cats over the age of 6 months, regardless of whether they’re an indoor or outdoor cat. The American Veterinary Medical Association has a list of each state’s laws regarding the administration of the rabies vaccination.
Even if they never leave the house, indoor cats can still develop many illnesses and conditions, and they still need vaccinations, so it’s important to take them to the vet for an annual check-up.
A common health problem that many indoor cats share is weight management. Over a quarter of all cats are obese, and indoor cats are particularly susceptible. While some indoor cats may love to play, they tend to lead mostly sedentary lives, which can inevitably lead to some weight gain.
It can be difficult for owners to recognize that their pet is overweight. Because you see your cat on a daily basis, gradual changes in their weight can be hard to detect, but those gradual changes can add up over time.
Gaining even a pound can make a huge difference in the health of an animal as small as a cat and can significantly affect their long-term health. Being overweight makes cats a lot more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
Veterinarians can help monitor your cat’s weight and provide nutritional advice and recommendations for keeping your cat at a healthy weight.
One of the most overlooked medical issues in cats is dental disease. Even with the best of diets, cats can develop a buildup of plaque on their teeth, as well as inflammation of their gums (gingivitis). Without proper veterinary care, these conditions can lead to oral discomfort, difficulty eating, and even tooth loss. Cats can also develop dental resorptive lesions, which are very uncomfortable and require veterinary care. A thorough oral examination during your cat’s check-up is essential to keep her mouth healthy and pain-free.
It’s very important for indoor cats to see the vet at least once a year, ideally every six months. This will ensure that they get the vaccinations they need, and enable you to detect and act on any health issues that may be developing before it’s too late.
Indoor cats may require fewer medical procedures than outdoor cats since they are not susceptible to dangerous wild animals or freak accidents that more commonly occur outdoors. The most common medical procedures for indoor cats include dental cleaning and spaying or neutering.
When preparing for a vet visit, it’s best to acclimatize your indoor cat to the cat carrier at least a few days in advance of your vet visit. Line it with blankets or a bed to make it comfortable and place treats or toys inside to make it more appealing to your cat. Give them treats, pets and praise when they explore the carrier, to help them associate it with positive experiences. Pheromone sprays may also help to keep your cat calm.
It is important to keep your cat in the carrier at all times during transportation and while sitting in the waiting room. This will help prevent your cat from escaping or getting injured during the vet visit.
You should also get your cat used to handling by touching, stroking and gently manipulating areas of their body such as their paws, ears, and mouth on a regular basis, so that they are not alarmed when the veterinarian examines them.
It’s very important for indoor cats to see the vet at least once a year. This will ensure that they get the vaccinations they need, and enable you to detect and act on any health issues that may be developing before it’s too late.