What’s The Average Cost Of A Kitten’s First Vet Visit?

Average Cost Of A Kittens First Vet Visit

The first few months of your kitten’s life will be filled with new experiences — for both of you! 

One of the most important milestones to prioritize for your kitten is its first trip to the vet. Scheduling an initial appointment for your kitten is one thing, but do you know what first-time expenses to expect?

A handful of factors go into the average cost of a kitten’s first vet visit, such as:

  • Office visit and exam fees
  • Diagnostics
  • Core vaccines, boosters, and titers
  • Parasite prevention and deworming
  • Microchipping

In this guide, we’ll talk about how to best prepare your budget for the veterinary care ahead, even before your new kitten comes home. 

Your Kitten’s First Vet Visit Cost Guide

Your kitten’s first vet visit can cost anywhere from $100 to $300 depending on vet costs specific to your location, as well as the age, breed, and health status of your kitty.

Ideally, this preliminary vet visit should occur within 24 to 72 hours of its adoption. If you’re introducing a kitten into a home with other cats, a first appointment needs to happen before you even bring the kitten home to protect both the kitten and your other cats from swapping potentially harmful pathogens or parasites.

Typical Costs Associated With Visiting The Vet For The First Time

  1. Location — Because the overhead costs of operating a veterinary clinic vary per state, so does the price of the treatments they provide. Geographic location will hold some skin in the game when it comes to the cost of veterinary care for your kitten, with California, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio being among the most expensive. 
  2. Age — A female kitten can have her first estrous cycle, also known as heat, as early as four months of age. Suppose you’ve adopted a kitten that has already entered this stage of reproductive development before her first appointment. In that case, your vet may want to run additional blood tests or medical imaging to evaluate the health of her uterus and ovaries. Unspayed cats are at a higher risk of developing stress-related conditions and reproductive cancers than spayed cats. 
  3. Breed — Certain breeds of cats are more prone to inherited health conditions than others. Namely, if you’ve adopted a purebred kitten, your total veterinary expenses could soar way above those of someone who owns a mixed breed shelter cat. Burmese, Siamese, Ragdoll, Persian, and Himalayan cats are a few popular pedigree breeds with track records of falling ill to inherited health disorders. 

Common Procedures & Costs

At this first office visit, the veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination of the kitten by:

  • Evaluating overall weight and body temperature
  • Looking for signs of fleas, mites, or other parasites
  • Palpating the internal organs for abnormalities
  • Checking the function of the heart, lungs, and other vitals
  • Testing behavior and response to external stimuli and interactions

First-year kitten vaccinations and parasite prevention will also begin during the first checkup. Your vet may also request initial diagnostics, like a fecal exam, heartworm test, or blood work. 

Microchipping is another worthwhile expense to consider, especially if your kitten will have outdoor access, with implantation fees adding approximately $45 to your total. 

In addition to these standard service costs, all pet owners must also be financially prepared to cover the cost of extenuating healthcare should their vet discover an underlying health issue with the pet during the appointment. 

Caring for a kitten is by no means cheap. We’ve tallied up the individual costs of typical first-time veterinary services to summarize how much you might spend at your kitten’s initial appointment and beyond:

Vet Service Average Cost Per Service
Physical examination $80-$100
Fecal exam $25-$45
Heartworm test $45-$50
Vaccinations $10-$30
Blood work $80+
Deworming  $30
Heartworm prevention $80-$100 (6-month supply)
Flea and tick prevention $30-$40 (6-month supply)

How Much Do A Kitten’s First Shots Cost?

As long as the kitten is at least eight weeks old, it will receive its first round of core vaccinations at this appointment, administered in intervals of three to four weeks until about 4 months of age. Again, expect to be charged $10 to $30 per vaccination. 

By four months old, your kitten should have received most of the following vaccines — per your veterinarian’s instructions — for common cat diseases, including:

  • Feline panleukopenia (FPV), also known as feline distemper
  • Feline calicivirus (FCV)
  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR)
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
  • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) — for outdoor cats
  • Rabies

Your kitten will not receive all of the above vaccinations at once. At its first appointment, kittens are typically only immunized for feline panleukopenia, calicivirus, and rhinotracheitis. These core vaccinations are sometimes combined into one shot called an FVRCP vaccine, which is usually $30 to $60. 

A rabies vaccine will be administered once your kitten is at least 12 weeks old. Most other available feline vaccinations will depend on your kitten’s lifestyle. For example, because feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus are only transferable through direct contact with other cats (grooming, mating, biting, etc.), those vaccines are typically reserved for outdoor cats and multi-cat households.

How Much Does Parasite Prevention for Kittens Cost?

Your kitten will likely begin a preventative care regime for fleas, ticks, worms, and other parasites at its first vet visit.

Your vet may request a fecal test to ensure no internal parasites or worms are currently present. You’ll need to bring a contained stool sample from your kitten’s litter box for the test to be completed. Double-bagging is always a good idea!

If parasitic eggs are detected in the feces, an oral dewormer will be required to eliminate any hookworms, roundworms, or tapeworms. The average cost of deworming a kitten is around $30. 

Heartworm tests are something your new cat will receive annually throughout its lifetime but may also be ordered at the first appointment just to start your kitten off. The blood test for heartworm screening is usually $50 or so. 

Your vet bill total will also include routine preventative treatments for fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Most chewable flea and heartworm control medications will require a monthly dosage. Stocking up with a few months’ worth of tablets ahead of time is always a good idea to avoid the hassle of refills every four weeks. A six-month supply of flea prevention for kittens will run you about $100, whereas heartworm will be around $40. These prices will slightly increase as your kitten grows, given that dosage correlates with weight. 

Additional Expenses To Look Out For

Spaying/Neutering Costs

Most veterinarians recommend that kittens be spayed or neutered at 5 to 6 months of age before their first heat. Depending on how old your kitten is at the time of adoption, a spay/neuter surgery might be a few weeks away, or it may have already happened. Many shelters routinely spay or neuter kittens at as early as eight weeks to prevent pregnancy and decrease their odds of developing ovarian and uterine diseases. If you adopt from a breeder, your kitten will likely not yet be spayed or neutered. 

On average, it’ll cost new cat owners $200 to $500 for their kittens to be fixed, but low-cost clinics are also widely available around the United States to help make spay and neuter services more affordable to pet parents. Check out North Shore Animal League’s SpayUSA referral network to find a low-cost clinic near you. 

Emergency Vet Costs

There’s no way to predict precisely how much it’ll cost to treat your kitten if it’s involved in an accident unless it happens, which can make your financial plans for future vet bills feel a bit patchy. The average cost of emergency veterinary care ranges from $500 to $1,500+ per incident, but that number is subject to change based on your kitten’s condition should it become injured or ill. 

Part of what makes pet insurance so worth it is that it allows you to work emergency costs into your budget by guaranteeing emergency coverage for a small monthly payment. 

Costs For Future Visits

After this first visit to the vet, you’ll need to schedule follow-up visits every three to four weeks until your kitten turns 16 weeks old. At these recurring appointments, your kitten will receive boosters for its core vaccines as well as any additional vaccines with age restrictions, like rabies. Remember, office visits usually range between $80 and $100, with booster vaccines costing an additional $10-$30 per shot. 

If your kitten shows signs of gastrointestinal parasites at the initial exam, your vet will also perform new fecal exams per appointment to ensure the worms have been eliminated. Be sure to bring a fresh sample for each visit! Again, fecal exams are often $25-$45 each.

At around four months old, once your kitten has received its full schedule of core vaccinations and is on a set schedule for parasite prevention, vet visits will become an annual obligation rather than monthly. Alongside any annual shot updates, your cat will also be tested for heartworms once a year. Geriatric screenings — a blood panel reserved for older cats to assess their overall wellness — will begin yearly around the age of 7. 

Does Pet Insurance Cover Vet Visits?

Yes. As long as the provided policy includes a wellness plan, pet insurance covers vet visits. Because standard pet insurance is designed to cover unexpected accidents and illnesses, wellness care doesn’t fall under that category. For this reason, coverage for predictable veterinary expenses, like vet visits, are offered as elective preventative care add-ons and may cost you a bit more per month. 

Final Thoughts

Whether this is your first kitten or your fifth, veterinary costs must be considered above all else, even before committing to the kitten itself. It isn’t uncommon for new pet owners to go through with adoption without having an emergency fund or pet insurance plans. And as a direct consequence, they’re left to grapple with rising credit card debt which can easily place strain on other financial obligations. By covering your tail ahead of time with a comprehensive pet insurance policy, you won’t have to worry about surprise expenses pouncing in.