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.