Yearly Exam: What to Expect?

Anoxia

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Hello! My cats are the first pets I've ever owned. They are 16 and 13 months, and I was wondering which of the following I could expect for their yearly checkup:
  • Physical exam.
  • Fecal exam?
  • Urinalysis?
  • CBC?
  • Blood paneling?
  • Mouth x-rays (done yearly, or done anytime a cat goes under)?
  • Dental cleaning?
  • Vaccines?
  • Others?
Which are tests/exams I should ask for, and which are ones I should hold off on unless the vet suggests otherwise? (For my part, they seem to be in good health.) This would be their first checkup as adults.

If possible, I would also appreciate if anyone wanted to share how much an annual exam usually costs them. I understand it would vary by location and by the individual cat, but it would help a lot to have an idea. (Price itself is no issue, just mental preparation.)

Thank you! Obligatory pictures attached. :)
 

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lisahe

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It's great that you're asking these questions!

This usually varies, depending on vet, cats, and symptoms -- the only thing I'm definite on would be physical exam and, most likely vaccinations, if the cats haven't already had them. (Ours, for example, got some vaccinations at the shelter where we adopted them but vaccination needs would depend on various factors, including a cat's age and how long it was at the shelter.)

The rest would most likely depend. For example, for dental, our vet usually takes a good look at their mouths and says if they need a cleaning or not. (Tip! Brushing your cats' teeth can really help you avoid the cost and stress of dental cleanings! Our cats even like having their teeth brushed.)

We've never had fecal tests or urinalysis done on our two cats but we did do basic blood analysis when they were either one or two. (We adopted them at 10 months.) I wanted to do that as a baseline; that made our vet really happy. I think she recommends that but not many people want to do it. We found with our previous cat that it's very helpful to have those baseline numbers so I'd recommend it to just about anyone. Also: if a cat needs a dental cleaning, the vet will most likely do a blood test before the cleaning.

Our vet charges $50 per cat for exams. (There used to be a bulk rate :lol: for bringing them both in at once but not last year!)

Your cats are very cute! It amazes me how much cats love laundry baskets.
 

Kieka

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For younger cats the annual is usually, at least with the vets I've had, just basic. Listen to lungs, heart, checking teeth, checking coat, checking weight and temperature. If there is anything the owner brings up of concerns, liiking more closely at that aspect. Stool tests are taken by some vet annually; my rabbit vet wants annual stool samples but my cat vet doesn't.

Annual blood tests usually don't start until 8+ year olds. My boy has gotten blood work probably once a year because he is accident prone but my girl has only had it with her initial exam and when she had a fever of unknown origin.

Vaccines depends on your vet. Some are annual, some every three years and some vets don't recommend boosters on indoor only cats.

Xrays tend to be only on an as needed basis.
 

sivyaleah

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As above, young cats go yearly, however our vet always asks for fecal sample. Vaccines as required.
Older cats, 10+ go bi-annually - blood testing/urinalysis yearly.
Fees depend on where you live. I live in the northeast, sort of close to NYC. Cost for the last visit on our kitten, if I remember correctly was around $65 - plus the cost of Revolution of $25. Unfortunately, when kittens are still growing you can't buy that in bulk since their weight keeps changing and that is dispensed by how much they weight. It gets cheaper once they become adults and you can buy like 6 months of it at a time.
They always look at their teeth but dentals are only done if required. My older cat has, unfortunately had many teeth removed through the years. That is quite pricey but necessary when needed. But you have time to worry about that, especially if you can keep on top of the care of their teeth now.
 

theyremine

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For young cats such as yours, an annual exam would usually include a physical exam, listening to heart and lungs, feeling stomach/ digestive tract, checking teeth and temperature and weight, a fecal test, nail trim if needed, and any needed vaccines. Other tests might be recommended if the exam reveals any concerns. Blood panels are recommended around here for senior cats (7 yr.+). Dental cleanings again are usually recommended for older cats. The cost here (MA) run from $100 to $ 150 for a young cat's exam.
 

denice

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Like the others have said for a young cat the exam is usually short. Just going over the cat feeling for anything out of the ordinary, looking at the teeth and checking weight and temperature. I don't know where they are with vaccines so there may be some of those involved. It's been a very long time since I have had a young healthy cat so I don't remember the usual price. Vet prices vary so much from area to area so it would probably not help any to know what the usual price is here. I am down to one cat now who is 16 and has started showing signs of very early CKD so her exams are more involved, more frequent, involve more and are therefore more expensive.
 

stephanietx

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If your kitties don't have any chronic issues and are in good health, you will usually just get a listen to the heart and lungs, oral exam, ears checked, eyes checked, tummy and bladder felt and palpated. Usually the temperature is also taken. Some vets will do that rectally, but some are starting to use ear thermometers. Also, your kitties will be weighed. I am probably the odd man out as I don't have my cats vaccinated yearly, so we skip that part. (Most of my cats have other health conditions.) If you've noticed any issues with your kitties, this would be the time to address those with the vet or if you have any questions regarding any of the findings of their exam.
 

lucicat

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I have kittens, but my vet said now (after kitten vaccines) they can just do the annual.
At my vet (all cat practice) the annual is:
1) the physical exam (looking in mouth, ears, listening to heart, quick flea comb, feeling the belly). That part is about $60.
2) VAccine boosters, FVRCP and rabies ($30-$40 per vaccine).
3) Either deworm meds or fecal test (meds are cheaper at $30 vs the fecal testing which is closer to $100).

They will recommend other vaccines and Revolution. . .which I will decline.

That's it unless the exam triggers them to ask for another test.
 

She's a witch

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I’ve just checked the invoice for the annual check that we’ve had couple months ago and I paid $270 for two cats in feline only practice; it consisted of checking their lungs&heart, eyes&ears and teeth, and general palpating of the whole body. I also asked to quickly check their anal glands. I don’t want them to check their temperature if there are no symptoms of fever - as a general rule, if the temp needs to be taken, I bring my own thermometer that I keep specifically for cats - I really don’t like the idea of using the one they have in practice, some pathogens simply won’t be cleaned with whatever they use to clean the devices (eg.giardia is pretty difficult to kill, I don’t want to risk my cats getting it at the vet). For my girl I asked for blood works (CBC +chemistry panel) as she had a history of weird results. I also got some consultation regarding my asthmatic cat treatment. Oh and yes, they’ve been weighed. I got some discount for bringing two cats at the same time.

They had their vaccines at 1yo and there’s no need to vaccinate them again for couple of years, if at all. Current recomended schedule says to vaccinate for core vaccines not earlier than every 3 years, and personally I’ll check the titer first rather than simply vaccinate them (even if they receive it nasally). Rabies is another story and if we need to inject it again, I’d choose 3years vaccine again, but hopefully I’d avoid that.
 

lucicat

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I’ve just checked the invoice for the annual check that we’ve had couple months ago and I paid $270 for two cats in feline only practice; it consisted of checking their lungs&heart, eyes&ears and teeth, and general palpating of the whole body. I also asked to quickly check their anal glands. I don’t want them to check their temperature if there are no symptoms of fever - as a general rule, if the temp needs to be taken, I bring my own thermometer that I keep specifically for cats - I really don’t like the idea of using the one they have in practice, some pathogens simply won’t be cleaned with whatever they use to clean the devices (eg.giardia is pretty difficult to kill, I don’t want to risk my cats getting it at the vet). For my girl I asked for blood works (CBC +chemistry panel) as she had a history of weird results. I also got some consultation regarding my asthmatic cat treatment. Oh and yes, they’ve been weighed. I got some discount for bringing two cats at the same time.

They had their vaccines at 1yo and there’s no need to vaccinate them again for couple of years, if at all. Current recomended schedule says to vaccinate for core vaccines not earlier than every 3 years, and personally I’ll check the titer first rather than simply vaccinate them (even if they receive it nasally). Rabies is another story and if we need to inject it again, I’d choose 3years vaccine again, but hopefully I’d avoid that.
Maybe I should start a new post. . .but I am vaccine hesitant. . .I'd rather not do them once a year. But my cat vet said that's standard and rabies is actually legally required here. So I feel I have to either do the 3 year rabies or do it every year. I don't want to. . .but I'm not sure how to get around it. And they also like to do the FCRP (the URI one) every year. I need to get more educated I guess on the risk-benefit on that one. Since my cats are completely indoors I have kept the vaccines to a minimum as their risk factors are very low (also why I prefer not to apply revolution).
 

She's a witch

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Maybe I should start a new post. . .but I am vaccine hesitant. . .I'd rather not do them once a year. But my cat vet said that's standard and rabies is actually legally required here. So I feel I have to either do the 3 year rabies or do it every year. I don't want to. . .but I'm not sure how to get around it. And they also like to do the FCRP (the URI one) every year. I need to get more educated I guess on the risk-benefit on that one. Since my cats are completely indoors I have kept the vaccines to a minimum as their risk factors are very low (also why I prefer not to apply revolution).
If they want to do core FHV, FCV&FPV vaccines every year, they’re certainly not up to date with official recommendations, and I wouldn’t let them. I would do the booster one (I chose nasal form instead of injection as I avoid these as much as possible) and then verify in 3years if the antibodies are still strong. I wouldn’t skip this one but repeating it yearly sound like huge overvaccination. Antibodies last at least 3 years and I’m personally pretty sure longer than that.

Rabies is the tricky one if it’s required by law and to me 3years vaccine sounds like a good compromise, if it’s legally allowed in your state. especially if it’s true that it’s in fact the same rabies vaccine than 1year but labeled differently. But yeah, hopefully I’ll skip it when the time comes next time.

One of my kitten was vaccinated against FELV in his foster home because he lived in a multicat household (15+) but I’d also skip it for indoor cats, in my case only 2, especially that apparently it’s not that effective.

I haven’t applied Revolution or other topical med since they were kittens and we dealt with ear mites.

Here’s current AAFP recommendation:
2013 Feline Vaccination Guidelines | Today's Veterinary Practice
I like what dr Pierson has to say about the vaccines:
Vaccines for Cats: We Need to Stop Overvaccinating
 

kittenmittens84

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Our vet’s exam fee is around $60-70, this is in California. They generally don’t do bloodwork or testing unless they find something out of the ordinary during the exam.
 

theyremine

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If they want to do core FHV, FCV&FPV vaccines every year, they’re certainly not up to date with official recommendations, and I wouldn’t let them. I would do the booster one (I chose nasal form instead of injection as I avoid these as much as possible) and then verify in 3years if the antibodies are still strong. I wouldn’t skip this one but repeating it yearly sound like huge overvaccination. Antibodies last at least 3 years and I’m personally pretty sure longer than that.

Rabies is the tricky one if it’s required by law and to me 3years vaccine sounds like a good compromise, if it’s legally allowed in your state. especially if it’s true that it’s in fact the same rabies vaccine than 1year but labeled differently. But yeah, hopefully I’ll skip it when the time comes next time.

One of my kitten was vaccinated against FELV in his foster home because he lived in a multicat household (15+) but I’d also skip it for indoor cats, in my case only 2, especially that apparently it’s not that effective.

I haven’t applied Revolution or other topical med since they were kittens and we dealt with ear mites.

Here’s current AAFP recommendation:
2013 Feline Vaccination Guidelines | Today's Veterinary Practice
I like what dr Pierson has to say about the vaccines:
Vaccines for Cats: We Need to Stop Overvaccinating
 

theyremine

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When I first brought my failed fosters to my vet, she said they would need a another rabies shot in a year, I protested stating that I wanted the 3 year vaccine. She said since I didn't have the paperwork stating they were vaccinated the year before, the vaccine would only be "legal" for one year, but if I came back with the paperwork, the vaccine would be "legal" for 3 years. I brought the paperwork the next day, the notes on their charts were changed as well as my paperwork to show 3 years. Same vaccine for 1 year or 3 years.
 

lucicat

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When I first brought my failed fosters to my vet, she said they would need a another rabies shot in a year, I protested stating that I wanted the 3 year vaccine. She said since I didn't have the paperwork stating they were vaccinated the year before, the vaccine would only be "legal" for one year, but if I came back with the paperwork, the vaccine would be "legal" for 3 years. I brought the paperwork the next day, the notes on their charts were changed as well as my paperwork to show 3 years. Same vaccine for 1 year or 3 years.
Interesting. . because my vet claimed it's a different vaccine, the 1 or the 3 year, and that the 3 year more expensive (of course). My husband said, oh what a great way to make money to require the vaccine every year. Yep...
As far as I have read, the vaccines should indeed be effective for longer than one year and I know some vets are starting to revise the schedules. But the two vet practices I have tried were both very pushy about yearly vaccines. I like the current vet better as they are a cat-only practice and when I say "Oh I don't want to do that" (like for the FELV vax and Revolution) they aren't pushy.
There is a holistic vet in my area, I should see what they say too.
 

lucicat

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If they want to do core FHV, FCV&FPV vaccines every year, they’re certainly not up to date with official recommendations, and I wouldn’t let them. I would do the booster one (I chose nasal form instead of injection as I avoid these as much as possible) and then verify in 3years if the antibodies are still strong. I wouldn’t skip this one but repeating it yearly sound like huge overvaccination. Antibodies last at least 3 years and I’m personally pretty sure longer than that.

Rabies is the tricky one if it’s required by law and to me 3years vaccine sounds like a good compromise, if it’s legally allowed in your state. especially if it’s true that it’s in fact the same rabies vaccine than 1year but labeled differently. But yeah, hopefully I’ll skip it when the time comes next time.

One of my kitten was vaccinated against FELV in his foster home because he lived in a multicat household (15+) but I’d also skip it for indoor cats, in my case only 2, especially that apparently it’s not that effective.

I haven’t applied Revolution or other topical med since they were kittens and we dealt with ear mites.

Here’s current AAFP recommendation:
2013 Feline Vaccination Guidelines | Today's Veterinary Practice
I like what dr Pierson has to say about the vaccines:
Vaccines for Cats: We Need to Stop Overvaccinating
Thanks for the links.
Yeah basically I think they over vaccinate as a matter of course. I have held off as much as seems possible. I only did 1 extra booster for my kittens of the FVRCP (they had two rounds of it before adoption). . .so that was 3 rounds of it in the first 5 months of life. They recommend 4 rounds. .. but I thought that was too much. And since they were out of the shelter and healthy I didn't see a lot of risk there either.
And when I asked the vet about FELV the only thing she could say was that IF they escape AND get into a cat fight with a FELV+ cat they could be at risk. That didn't seem like a very big risk and not worth another yearly shot there.
 

lucicat

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If they want to do core FHV, FCV&FPV vaccines every year, they’re certainly not up to date with official recommendations, and I wouldn’t let them. I would do the booster one (I chose nasal form instead of injection as I avoid these as much as possible) and then verify in 3years if the antibodies are still strong. I wouldn’t skip this one but repeating it yearly sound like huge overvaccination. Antibodies last at least 3 years and I’m personally pretty sure longer than that.

Rabies is the tricky one if it’s required by law and to me 3years vaccine sounds like a good compromise, if it’s legally allowed in your state. especially if it’s true that it’s in fact the same rabies vaccine than 1year but labeled differently. But yeah, hopefully I’ll skip it when the time comes next time.

One of my kitten was vaccinated against FELV in his foster home because he lived in a multicat household (15+) but I’d also skip it for indoor cats, in my case only 2, especially that apparently it’s not that effective.

I haven’t applied Revolution or other topical med since they were kittens and we dealt with ear mites.

Here’s current AAFP recommendation:
2013 Feline Vaccination Guidelines | Today's Veterinary Practice
I like what dr Pierson has to say about the vaccines:
Vaccines for Cats: We Need to Stop Overvaccinating
Oh I wish I had read that last link months ago!!!! :( I should have waited on the FVCPR till 16 weeks and then never again. Now becaude they were younger than that when they got it, I"m wondering if I should do it one last time at their 1year old check-up. I'll have to look back at the paperwork on how old they were. . .maybe 12 weeks-ish the last one they got.

It's so complex this issue.
 

MissClouseau

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I didn't read everything, sorry if I'm repeating things but, there's also what you should expect at the exam. The first three times I was at the vet with my cat they didn't check her heart at all. They also don't look at the skin thoroughly - to be fair that's difficult to do with cats anyway but I definitely recommend checking the skin yourself at home before you go and if you see something or if you have any questions about skin, ask them while there.

Also a detailed blood test is the best and safest but depending on the clinic, where I live at least the clinics can ask for testing only specific things in the blood. So much that back when my cat had jaundice, at the end of the treatment they only checked her bilirubin level. A single thing. If you find yourself ever not being able to afford a too-detailed blood test, you can still ask them to look at certain things for that day and save the rest for later.

The clinic I go to don't do stool or urine test if there is no issue and no abnormal finding in the blood test. They also don't do checking vitamin levels and alike. But the next time I'm there for example I will ask them to check B12 level.

Especially if you can't do it at home yourself (I can't), ask if they can wipe the ears or if the ears are fine. If there is an ear mite issue or something and the ears need to be wiped, well my Hima doesn't stand and I fear of injuring the ear so I leave it for the vet & vet tech.

Finally, I wish someone said this to me before I went in for a check-up: I highly recommend going there before you take your cat, discuss how the check-up will go and what they will test-what you want them to get tested, and maybe ask around. When I went there they did two different tests for coronavirus and one of them was totally pointless for example. The antibodies test would already show if she had corona, but they first did the quick test and then the antibodies test so the second's money was for nothing. Yet they didn't check her thyroid although I asked them to do a detailed blood test. So it's the best to discuss beforehand.
 

lisahe

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Rabies is the tricky one if it’s required by law and to me 3years vaccine sounds like a good compromise, if it’s legally allowed in your state. especially if it’s true that it’s in fact the same rabies vaccine than 1year but labeled differently. But yeah, hopefully I’ll skip it when the time comes next time.
I think our vet's standard offering is now the three-year vaccine. As Dr. Pierson mentions on her page about vaccines, it's labeled for three years. She makes some interesting points about duration/titers.

More general on rabies, since vaccine frequency has come up... When a bat (which turned out not to have rabies) flew in our house a few years ago and we went to get booster shots for our cats the next day, the vet said that things can get tricky if an unvaccinated pet comes into contact with a rabid animal. I don't know what she's seen or what, exactly, state regulations/laws are right now but my understanding at one time was that the best-case scenario is often a six-month quarantine. (I say "at one time" because we learned about rabies, too, when a previous cat had an unexplained illness that a different vet speculated could possibly have been rabies, given her previous situation. Given the options and the cat's very poor condition, we had to have her put to sleep; she did not have rabies.)

I just mention this because after the bat incident, I will never let a rabies vaccine go even a day late! If anybody is hoping to skip a rabies shot for any reason, I'd very strongly suggest not just speaking with the vet in advance but also contacting your local animal control officer and/or state office that handles rabies management to find out what your options are. I would hope that titer records would be enough. You don't want to end up in a bad situation because a bat flew into your house. (We know there are bats around our house but still have no idea how that bat got in.) I found that in my state, where there are rabies cases (sometimes very public ones), local animal control and the state might have slightly different criteria for things like determining if an animal (I'm thinking of that poor bat) should be tested for rabies.
 

She's a witch

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I think our vet's standard offering is now the three-year vaccine. As Dr. Pierson mentions on her page about vaccines, it's labeled for three years. She makes some interesting points about duration/titers.

More general on rabies, since vaccine frequency has come up... When a bat (which turned out not to have rabies) flew in our house a few years ago and we went to get booster shots for our cats the next day, the vet said that things can get tricky if an unvaccinated pet comes into contact with a rabid animal. I don't know what she's seen or what, exactly, state regulations/laws are right now but my understanding at one time was that the best-case scenario is often a six-month quarantine. (I say "at one time" because we learned about rabies, too, when a previous cat had an unexplained illness that a different vet speculated could possibly have been rabies, given her previous situation. Given the options and the cat's very poor condition, we had to have her put to sleep; she did not have rabies.)

I just mention this because after the bat incident, I will never let a rabies vaccine go even a day late! If anybody is hoping to skip a rabies shot for any reason, I'd very strongly suggest not just speaking with the vet in advance but also contacting your local animal control officer and/or state office that handles rabies management to find out what your options are. I would hope that titer records would be enough. You don't want to end up in a bad situation because a bat flew into your house. (We know there are bats around our house but still have no idea how that bat got in.) I found that in my state, where there are rabies cases (sometimes very public ones), local animal control and the state might have slightly different criteria for things like determining if an animal (I'm thinking of that poor bat) should be tested for rabies.
There are other risks that need to be calculated, more likely in my case than your example: like when a cat bites his human, or what’s worse, some other human - as unlikely as it is, it still can happen and the consequences for unvaccinated cat can be horrible. I’m aware of that. In my case the easiest and most likely scenario is moving to the rabies free country or the one when rabies shot are not legally required and any risk is close to zero (like in most European countries). That’s what I meant when I said about skipping this vaccine.
 
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