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Even healthy cats will require regular visits to a veterinary practice. 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. Here's our guide on how to find a vet to suit you.

Taking your cat to the vet: what to expect

Worried about taking your cat to the vet for the first time? Or just not quite sure what you need to prepare or expect? Watch our video to find out more.

Choosing a vet for your cat

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.

Things to consider when choosing a vet

  • location - especially relevant in an emergency, you might want to make sure that your vet is near to you
  • facilities - some veterinary practices will allow you to take a look around on open days. You'll notice equipment like X-ray machines and laboratory equipment, and you'll want to make sure the operating theatre is clean and well-equipped
  • appointment system and routine opening hours. Are you able to get an appointment at short notice for urgent problems?
  • whether the practice is accredited to the RCVS Practice standards scheme (PSS). This is a voluntary initiative to accredit veterinary practices in the UK through setting standards and carrying out regular inspection

Taking your cat to the vet for the first time

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.

How do I prepare for the first vet visit?

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.

Tips to help you prepare when taking your cat to the vet

  • for cats that get particularly nervous by vet visits, ask if there is a quieter time slot available when booking an appointment
  • if your cat is wary of the carrier, try leaving it out in a place where your cat feels relaxed and enjoys being there. This way they can get more familiar with it and explore on their own terms. Read more about cat carrier training in our advice guide
  • be gentle and confident when picking up your cat and placing them in their carrier. It could be useful to place a blanket over the top to help your cat calm down
  • try and sit away from other animals in the waiting room and keep your cat in a carrier close to you, ideally on a raised surface and out of the eyeline of other animals
More tips on how to make vet visits less stressful for your cat

Choosing a cat-friendly vet practice

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.

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