Consulting a Veterinarian: Unfortunately, your cat can’t tell you how it feels, but as you become familiar with its normal behavior, appetite, body weight and level of activity, you’ll be able to instantly detect if something is wrong. Significant changes to any of the above serve as a warning sign that your cat is not feeling well. If your cat appears ill, you need to consult a veterinarian immediately.
Finding a Vet: If you’ve just moved to a new town, or have just gotten a cat for the first time, there are various ways to find a good vet in your area. First, ask around. Often you’ll get an excellent referral. Next, call the local humane society and ask the names of any vets who volunteer their time. Call the local breed associations and see who their members use. Or, ask the owners of well-cared-for cats - you’re bound to get some names that way.
Choosing a Vet: Choosing a vet is a lot like choosing a pediatrician. If you’ve never done that before, choose a vet with whom you are comfortable and who will be available to answer your questions. A good vet will be associated with a 24-hour emergency care plan or be able to put you in touch with one in your area. You might ask yourself some of these questions when choosing a vet: Do the animals visiting the office seem nervous, but comfortable? Does the vet specialize in small domestic animals? Does this vet come recommended by people who take good care of their pets? If the answer to these three questions is "yes," you have probably made a good choice.
Going to the Vet: Cats do not, in general, like going to the vet. They become anxious and fearful and do not like riding in cars. Using a pet carrier will help control your cat’s anxiety. It will also help to keep your cat under control in the waiting room at the vet’s office and prevent accidents in the car on the way there. You might want to find a "cats only" vet or a vet that makes house calls. If neither of these is possible, try getting your cat used to the car by taking short, frequent drives and avoiding dogs in the waiting room.
What to Expect on a Standard Visit: On a standard annual visit, you can expect your vet to weigh your cat, and check its heart rate and temperature. They will also check your cat’s teeth for tartar or gum swelling, ears for ear mites and other fungus problems, eyes for normal pupil response and retinal appearance, body for ringworm using a black light, perform standard blood work and check fecal matter for worms, give booster shots for rabies, FeLV, panleukopenia, rhinoco, and whatever other shots may be due.
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