Even healthy cats will require regular visits to a veterinary practice, so it's important that finding a vet is one of the first things you do with a new cat. Take your cat for health checks at least once a year - early recognition of symptoms as well as treatment may prevent your cat from getting ill.
All vets working in the UK have to be registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). Choosing a vet might be daunting - often a recommendation from a friend or neighbour is a good place to start. Otherwise, you could phone around your local vets or even visit them before you make your choice.
You'll want to make sure that the practice you choose has high standards of care, offers good facilities and has kind and knowledgeable staff.
When you welcome a new cat or kitten into your home, it’s a good idea to register them with a vet within the first few days and aim to book a first appointment as soon as it’s available.
Once you've decided on the ideal vet, it is sensible to build a lasting relationship to ensure you can both do the best for your cat.
On initial consultation, your vet might ask a veterinary nurse to assist with handling the cat, especially if you are nervous about how your cat will react. They will examine your cat as well as ask you some questions about general health, eating, drinking and toileting habits. As always, if you have noticed anything unusual about your cat's behaviour, you'll need to let your vet know.
Cats are creatures of habit, and any change in routine or environment can be quite stressful for them. To minimise the stress for you and your cat, preparing in advance is key to ensure your first appointment goes as smoothly as possible.
If you bring a kitten with you to the vet, it’s important to try and help them have an early positive experience as they will associate that experience later in life when visiting a vet again.
Choosing a cat-friendly clinic can make a visit to the vet more comfortable for your cat – you can be sure that the vets have met certain criteria and shown a cat-friendly ethos. Some vet clinics may have designated separate waiting areas and may have appointment times for only cats or dogs. To find a practice part of an accredited programme, visit Cat Friendly Clinic’s website.