Named by Pets Best Insurance as the nation’s best veterinarian of 2012, Dr. Irvin Ingram has firmly established himself as an expert in his field. Pets Best Insurance, a leading nationwide pet insurance agency, selected Dr. Ingram as the winner of its 2012 My Vet’s the Best contest as a result of his ongoing charitable efforts and steadfast commitment to treating animals in need.

With 40 years of experience as a veterinarian, Dr. Ingram has treated thousands of cats throughout his lengthy career. While he helps cats on a daily basis at All Creatures Animal Hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., he is consistently surprised and amazed by his feline patients. Dr. Ingram was happy to use this extensive knowledge to help us figure out some odd kitty issues. 

yawning cat
Alamy

Why does my cat always have bad breath?

ANSWER:

Consistent bad breath is almost always associated with serious health issues among cats ages 4 and older. There are many possibilities, although the most obvious culprits would be dental or gum infection. I would recommend scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian immediately to determine whether your cat has a health issue that needs to be addressed.

I recently treated a 9-year-old cat that had a tumor in its mouth, which was the source of its bad breath. This is not a common occurrence, but it highlights the fact that consistent bad breath should serve as a warning sign to pet owners. It may be as simple as gingivitis or as serious as a tumor. 

little kitty in the scratcher pole
Alamy

Why does my cat shed her claws?

ANSWER: 

Unlike other mammals, cats shed their claws two to three times per year to keep them strong and sharp. These unique retractable claws have been passed along from their ancestors. Wild cats rely on their claws to capture prey and climb with ease.

In addition to offering sharpness and strength, cats’ claws are also retractable, allowing them to sneak up on prey without tapping their claws on the ground. In fact, the only cat that does not have fully retractable claws is the African cheetah, relying on speed alone to catch its meals.

Because cats shed their claws so frequently, it is important to provide your four-legged family member with a scratching post to dislodge their claws. If you don’t have a scratching post in your home, your cat may begin using your furniture to keep its claws sharp. 

2 ladies holding a little cat
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I noticed that my cat always sheds more when we visit the vet’s office. Is this normal? What is causing him to lose increased amounts of fur?

ANSWER:

The simple answer is that we don’t really know why this happens, but it extremely common among pets visiting veterinary offices and should not be a cause for concern. The veterinary community believes this increased shedding is associated with the fight-or-flight response. Visiting the vet is often a stressful experience for pets, causing them to shed more than usual. I tend to agree with this theory, although we have yet to discover a definitive answer to your question.

cat beside a basket of vegetables
Alamy

Is it safe to feed my cat a vegan diet?

ANSWER:

It is difficult for me to recommend vegan diets for cats, which are classified as primary carnivores. Cats are genetically designed to consume meat, and there is no reason to believe a cat would be happier or healthier on a vegan diet.

While many humans are committed to vegan diets, we should not expect our companion pets to share our beliefs. There are literally hundreds of well-designed, balanced diets for cats. I would recommend consulting your veterinarian to find a diet that meets your cat’s unique needs.

cat holding his tail
Flickr User: AlishaV

Recently my adult cat (7 years old) has begun chasing her tail on a much more frequent basis. It almost seems to be a “joke,” like she’s doing it to entertain us or get our attention. Could that be the reason?Why else would she be acting so kitten-like all over again?

ANSWER:

You should count yourself lucky. By chasing its tail, your cat is likely trying to entertain itself or your family (perhaps both). As long as your cat is not injuring its tail in the process, which could be an indicator of obsessive-compulsive disorder, you should enjoy your cat’s newfound youthfulness. 

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