published Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Check on chatty cat

About once a week, Cat Clinic of Chattanooga practice manager Rachel Walker gets a call from an owner about a talkative feline.

While hair balls and loss of appetite are clear signs to owners that a cat may be distressed, meowing excessively is one way puss may be trying to express his discomfort as well, Walker said.

"The cat is doing it for a reason," she said. "You just have to rule out medical, behavioral and safety."

Sudden chattiness in an otherwise taciturn cat can indicate anxiety or health problems, including serious conditions such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes.

In the former case, a veterinarian may be able to prescribe mediation to calm the animal down, but any changes to a cat's vocal habits should be addressed by a professional, after ruling out environmental causes such as boredom and lack of food or water, Walker said.

There is generally an underlying cause to a cat speaking up, including female cats entering their heat cycle. But for some talkative cats, the cause may be genetic. Some breeds, including Siamese, Bengal and Maine Coon are naturally more vocal.

"My cat is a domestic short-haired black cat who talks and talks all day long, and he has a little Siamese in him," Walker said. "It could just be how they were made."

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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