Cats are healthy animals in general, aren't they? Now I just noticed "regular vet check-ups" mentioned twice (only twice - I searched) here in Pets. (link, link)

So far I've taken our cats to a vet only for their vaccination(s) and de-sexing ops, or if there is a health issue at hand. This means a visit to a vet once every two or three years, depending on the vaccination renewal period. That does not sound like what is meant with "regular check-ups", which sounds like twice a year at least, if you ask me.

Why should I take a cat to a vet for a check-up, if I don't notice anything amiss with the cat?

4 Answers 4


The big things that are checked in regular checkups for cats are checking for parasites, checking the teeth, listening to the heart, your cat's eyes, and checking for bumps. Cats aren't necessarily healthier animals than others, even humans, and unfortunately, this myth is a very common one. The same reason YOU should go in for regular checkups with your doctor are the same reasons your cat should go into the veterinarian for regular check ups. Check ups allow issues with your cat to be potentially caught in earlier stages, where the symptoms may not be as obvious for a pet owner as for a veterinarian. With any disease or health issue, the sooner you can catch it, the easier, less expensive, and more able to treat it typically is. In addition, I would honestly be surprised if all of your cat's vaccinations lasted more than a year. And yes, you're correct, regular check ups should be done about twice a year.

A few links to look over regarding regular check ups for cats:




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    My cat's vaccinations have to be renewed every year, and this is also a requirement of all catteries in the UK so if you want to take your cat to one when you go away you have no choice. But the vet also does a thorough checkup when I take him for his shots and has spotted a few things that might've been serious (and very expensive) had they been allowed to develop. We end up going twice a year anyway though as he always ends up in a scrape or something between vaccination appointments and needs some attention. Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 10:58
  • That's good to hear! Unfortunately, a surprisingly large number of people seem to think similar to LLL, where their pet's health is fine unless they have obvious and noticeable issues, or that their pet isn't worth spending 50 dollars a year on for a checkup.
    – Waterseas
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 15:45
  • Human regular check-ups are a regional thing. In the Netherlands people only go to see a doctor when they are ill, old-times only when they are really ill.
    – Ivana
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 11:08

It may be a regional thing. Also, the answers and comments you linked to don't specifically mention a time period, so what is meant by "regular" is somewhat open to interpretation.

In my area, it's typical to take your cat for a "regular" check-up annually. At this appointment, vaccines will be renewed as appropriate. The cat will be weighed to ensure that an undue amount of weight has not been gained or lost (which could be an indication of an underlying health problem). Temperature and heartbeat will also be checked. The vet usually also looks inside the ears and mouth to make sure nothing seems amiss there. Again, what is typical at these appointments may vary by region (or even from one vet to the next).

Certainly, I would advise taking your cat to the vet if you think something is wrong. But sometimes a vet may catch something at a routine check-up that you might not otherwise have noticed. (It wasn't until the vet looked inside my cat's ears that we noticed that her skin had changed hue and she was actually jaundiced!) While it's true that many health issues will manifest in ways that are obvious to the owner or casual observer eventually, it's often beneficial if these things can be caught earlier rather than later.

Also, regular check-ups mean that the vet has a useful baseline for your cat should an issue arise. This means that they know not just what's typical for cats in general, but what's typical for this specific cat which can be very helpful.


Yes, you need to regularly bring your cat to the vet. But regular is in the eye of the beholder and you already said that you take your cat to the vet when it's time to renew the vaccines, which is in fact a regular routine. You actually do not need to take them every year, which I think is what you are really asking.

You see, it all started some time in the 1940s when a study was done to see if there was any connection between how often people visited their doctor and their overall health. The study found that people who visited their doctors at least once a year lived statistically longer and healthier lives. Doctors everywhere jumped to the conclusion that the act of visiting their doctor caused those people to live longer and healthier lives.

Unfortunately, this was an incorrect leap in logic. You see, the masses confused correlation and causation. Correlation simply means there's a relationship between two or more variables, while causation means that one things directly causes another thing to happen.

For example, you may have heard the statistic that the majority of car accidents happen near your home. Here's a few versions of it:

Only 1% of accidents occurred more than 50 miles from home.

52 percent of reported crashes occurred five miles or less from home.

One in three road accidents happen a mile from home.

Why does this happen? Is the connection between being near your house a correlation or a causation? Think about it for a second. Is it possible for your house's nearness to influence your driving and directly cause you to crash? No! It is just a building and buildings are everywhere. Therefore, the connection is one of correlation, not causation.

The reason most car accidents happen near your house is two-fold. First, 50 miles is a long way to drive and it's pretty easy for a person to travel inside a 50 mile radius circle and still be happy. That's where we spend most of our time driving, so of course that's where an accident is most likely to happen.

Second, people tend to drive more carelessly near their homes. They've driven those roads hundreds, no, thousands of times before. At night. In the rain. In rush hour. When sick. When dead tired. They know those roads like they know the back of their hand. If there's anywhere it's OK for them to take their eyes off the road a bit longer than normal, its one stop sign away from their house and-- OHMYGOD! WHERE DID THAT CAR COME FROM!!! CRASH!!!

What does this have to do with a medical study published in the 1940s and how often you should take your cat to the vet? Well, that study was widely publicized by people who confused correlation with causation and concluded that because those people visited the doctor more often, they were healthier. Wrong! Those people were healthier because they were health conscious individuals and because they were more aware of and concerned with their health, they visited their doctor when they thought that something might be wrong with their body instead of waiting 8 months to see if the bloody coughing or strange swelling went away on its own.

Really, that misunderstood study only proved that people who were more willing to visit their doctor at the first sign of trouble tended to live healthier lives. Not exactly a brilliant, ground-breaking discovery, but because the data and the connection about it was misinterpreted, we now are expected to visit the doctor at least once a year. (And dentist.)

But we believe that visiting the doctor once a year is best for us, and if you're a good, loving, responsible pet owner, shouldn't you do the same for you beloved pets, too? I mean, if they're really a member of the family, they should visit the doctor just as often as your family does? Right?

So, NO, your pets do not need to visit the vet every year.

That doesn't let you off the hook, though. Unlike humans, animals are not capable of telling you when they feel bad or where something hurts. It is up to you to monitor their health and look out for signs of illnesses or injuries, for sudden weight loss, changes in behavior or eating or bowel routines, strange lumps, or pained limps.

You shouldn't feel guilty about not taking Kitty to the vet once a year, but you should feel guilty for not taking him to the vet and then not noticing when he gets sick.

  • You reference "a study from the 1940's" without giving a source. Do you have any peer-reviewed studies that state that animals are just as healthy if they go the the vet less frequently? Your answer sounds to me like an opinion and a rant without any science to back it up.
    – jalynn2
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 16:51

The only time I would take a cat to the vet are the following: Initial Shots, Neutering, and Serious injury/illness.

And that's it. Otherwise you're wasting your time or in my opinion, wasting money you could donate to help feed human children.

I'm a dog owner. I took my dog to get his shots... done. He was already neutered. Next time he goes to the vet he will have to be bleeding and even though I love my dog there is a price limit.

And to answer your question, the vet is running a business; they will work on your pet even if there is little chance.

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    So no going to the vet unless it's an emergency? Isn't that the same as saying don't see a doctor unless you're going to the emergency room? That's a policy that's quickly regretted when a tumor shows up, I think. The point of checkups is to catch things early.
    – Spidercat
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 1:40
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    @MattS. - there is one circumstance where I'd be willing to pass on regular checkups (and have done so): when the cat is so traumatized by being at the vets that they have to sedate the cat to perform an examination (this cat was an adopted stray who was mostly feral and did not take well to humans she didn't know). In that specific circumstance it was better to keep a close eye on the cat and only take her to the vet when there was something wrong.
    – Kate Paulk
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 11:25
  • I feel bad for your dog if this is the case. Checkups don't cost much money at all, and, as mentioned in my comment, catching issues early typically saves a lot of money in the long run than if it's caught late. In addition, from the sounds of it, your dog isn't getting his yearly vaccines, which is a huge issue.
    – Waterseas
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 15:43
  • Like I said, it is an animal. I donate a lot of money to charity every year since I spend an equal amount on entertainment as I do charity and do spend on vanity items like checking the white blood cell count of a cat. I live by these rules, and if others didn't waste money on pets and such the world would be a better place. My dog is happy, gets complements about its muscles, healthy coat, and most importantly its manners.
    – LLL
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 16:39
  • Btw, my dog is a stray street dog with the build of a well ran grey hound and I don't need to defend how I treat my property to others. You're welcomed to waste money and look like a fool buying your dog expensive medical treatments.
    – LLL
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 16:51

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