Meet the vet

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Find the vet your new kitten deserves

You're bound to want the very best for your new kitten, and one of the most important things you can do is find an excellent veterinary practice. After all, you're going to be relying on them for years to come. A recommendation from family or friends is one way to find a good vet but otherwise just trust your instincts. Do the staff seem friendly, helpful and knowledgeable? What are the surgery hours and what provision is there if your kitten happens to be unwell outside of those hours? Many vets now offer much more than just medical and surgical care. For example, many now sell everything from pet food to litter trays. You may find this useful.

Vets are not just for sick pets

Gone are the days when you only took a pet to the vet if it was sick. Regular health checks in the first few months of your kitten's life will mean any problems can be spotted before they have a chance to escalate. Most clinics will also offer advice on everything from collars to training. An added bonus that comes from taking a fit and healthy kitten to the vet, is she will get used to going there. Cats are clever and will soon learn to dread visits to the vet if the only time they go there is for 'nasty' things like injections!

Getting ready

It's natural to be nervous before your kitten's first visit to the vet, but don't worry, she'll be in safe hands. A little preparation will help make it a positive and reassuring experience.

When you make your first appointment, you should ask the surgery how they would like you to get ready for your visit. It will depend on your vet. It would certainly be a good idea to bring along any medical records you might have for the kitten. And if you have health insurance, or identification chip details for your pet, bring along these documents too.

Prepare a cosy carrier for your kitten; you can get cat carriers at pet shops and even at some vet surgeries. Put in a comfy blanket, and you could even use some special pheromone spray in the carrier to help your kitten feel relaxed and calm.

Be ready to answer questions on your kitten's life so far. What type of food is your kitten eating? Is your kitten sleepy and slow, or is she active and playful? Has she ever had any vaccinations, worming, flea control or treatments, perhaps with her previous owner? Remember, this is also your chance to ask the vet questions. Is there anything that you need clearing up, that you're not sure about? Your vet will be happy to reassure you, and give you advice.

What to expect

Try to arrive a bit before the appointment time. There may be some paperwork for you to fill out. Then a member of staff will take you and your kitten into an examination room, where they will probably first measure your kitten's temperature and weigh her.

Next, your vet will give your kitten a physical examination. Most vets will make friends with your kitten and help to relax her before they start their check-up, by stroking and speaking softly to her. Your vet will then check her body thoroughly, looking for any signs of illness or abnormality. He or she will probably ask some routine questions at this stage, and you can ask any questions you may have too. You might also talk about your kitten's feeding habits and needs, as research shows that the right food is vital to your kitten's healthy development. Your conversation will help the vet get to know your kitten, establishing a trusting relationship that should last your cat's lifetime. Before you leave, remember to pick up your kitten's new medical records and any food or medication that the vet may have prescribed. Now it's time to take your kitten home. Feel free to give her a treat and a cuddle before she settles down to a well-deserved catnap - it's been quite a day!

Pet Insurance

If your kitten is unwell, you're bound to feel concerned and the last thing you'll want is the additional stress of worrying about the cost of medical care. That's why many owners choose to take out pet insurance.

It's worth doing a bit of research comparing policies and prices and the internet is great for this if you have access to it.

Remember that pet insurance will not cover routine health care and that it's vital to read the 'small print' before you sign anything.

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