Why Does My Cat Need an Exam to Get a Refill?

Front-desk workers hear that question every day

Your cat is close to running out of her prescription medications, but you’re out of refills. You call your veterinarian, hoping to pick up the medication. The receptionist tells you that your cat needs to be seen first, but if you are out, you can pick up a few pills to hold you over until the appointment. Why all the fuss?

Many reasons! First and foremost, your veterinarian must monitor your cat’s health. While you may not have noticed, your cat’s health may have changed. She may have lost or gained weight, making the previous dosage inappropriate. She may be exhibiting symptoms that the medication is not performing as well as expected or is causing side effects and needs to be changed. And, of course, her health problem may have improved or deteriorated, requiring a medication adjustment.

If your cat switched from being an indoor-only cat to indoors/outdoors or vice versa, she may now need some added medications or may be able to stop some. (The same is true of vaccinations!)

Antibiotic resistance. Overusing antibiotics or improperly using them can lead to resistant bacteria that can harm people and pets. Your veterinarian may need to examine your cat to see if more antibiotics are truly needed or if your cat might need a change in antibiotics.

If your cat did not improve on the initial drug, a culture and sensitivity may be recommended along with a change in medication. The same holds true for antifungal medications.

Heartworm worries. If your cat is on a monthly heartworm medication, she must be tested annually for the rare cases when a heartworm “broke through” the medication and set up shop. If indeed the medication somehow failed, and your cat now has heartworms, she may benefit from medications to reduce inflammation in her lungs.

Monitoring chronic health conditions. If your cat is on a life-long medication, such as methimazole for hyperthyroidism, your veterinarian needs to assess your cat physically to see if the dosage is working.

If your cat is on a seizure medication, blood levels will need to be checked to ensure that your cat has the correct levels in her bloodstream to help prevent seizures but also minimize side effects.

Bringing your seemingly well cat back to the veterinarian for an exam to check her progress and refill the same medications seems like an annoyance to many people, but when you realize that it’s all for the cat’s wellbeing and good health, you realize that it’s well worth making the appointment.