Just as cats shed fur, they also shed their whiskers. This is because a cat’s whiskers are a special type of hair, and therefore go through a normal cycle of growth, dormancy, and shedding. However, whiskers are not shed nearly as often as fur.
Generally, whiskers will shed every few months and usually not more than one or two at a time so you’re more likely to notice them on your floor than you are missing from a spot on your cat’s face.
In basic terms, whisker fatigue is simply over-stimulation of the sensory system of the whiskers. What happens when the whiskers are touched too much, even if it is basic brushing against food and water dishes, is the cat’s brain gets an onslaught of sensory messages transmitted to their brain.
Do Cat Whiskers Grow Back? If your cat does break their whiskers, or they have to be trimmed for medical reasons, as long as the follicle does not suffer any damage, these hairs will grow back. In fact, normal cat whiskers are occasionally shed just like other hairs, though never more than 1-2 at a time.
Whiskers Don’t Need Trimming!
Like other hairs on a cat’s body, whiskers shed. That’s normal. But you should never trim them. A cat with cut whiskers will become disoriented and scared.
A fascinating question! Cat whiskers are thankfully not poisonous. The main purpose they serve is to help the cat navigate, and secondarily they help the cat express their moods.
Eating from a bowl that is too deep is the most frequent cause of whisker fatigue. As a cat’s sensitive whiskers rub against the sides of a deep bowl, it begins to hurt.
The most common cause of whisker fatigue is something a cat does every day – eating and drinking. Small, high-sided bowls typically used for feeding a cat’s food and water are usually to blame for whisker fatigue.
Touching a cat’s whiskers doesn’t hurt, but pulling them does. The long, thick hairs that curve so gracefully from a cat’s muzzle and above the eyes are not just decorations – they’re more like antennae or “feelers.” They help the cat navigate, balance and keep out of trouble.
Cat whiskers are similar to human hair and have no nerves so it is not painful to cut them.
Some owners want to be sure groomers do not touch their kitty’s whiskers, while others are adamant the whiskers are trimmed or removed. Knowing a few whisker facts will go a long way in helping you educate cat owners while giving you assurance you are doing what is in the best interest of the felines you groom.
As we have discussed, whiskers have many functions and aren’t just there for cosmetic purposes. Cutting whiskers is not only painful, but can decrease a cat’s spatial awareness. This can cause them to knock into things, become disorientated, less able to protect themselves from danger and less agile.
The concept of whisker stress makes sense. If you constantly touch a highly sensitive spot anywhere on the body, it can tend to fatigue the area, and in some cases, even cause stress.
Whiskers tell you how they’re feeling
Whiskers can also give you an insight into a cat’s behaviour or emotions. If their whiskers are rigid and pulled around their face it means they may feel threatened, whereas, if their whiskers are relaxed, it indicates that your cat may be feeling happy and content.
Good: Cheeks Behind the Whiskers
So what is it about scent-gland areas that cause cats to enjoy being petted there? When you rub these spots (like the cheeks behind the whiskers, pictured here), the glands release your cat’s scent onto you. Cat experts call this “scent marking.”
Your cat puts her paws on you to transfer scent
A cat’s paws are positively loaded with scent glands. Depositing scent on an object or person is not really about marking territory, claiming possession, or dominating, as some people think.
A cat’s whiskers and eyebrows should never be trimmed. They play a role in several important sensory functions, such as depth perception, proprioception, and even night vision.
Researchers suspect that catnip targets feline “happy” receptors in the brain. When eaten, however, it tends to have the opposite effect and your cat mellows out. Most cats react to catnip by rolling, flipping, rubbing, and eventually zoning out. They may meow or growl at the same time.
A cat’s life expectancy will depend on many factors, including health, diet and their environment, but the average lifespan for a domestic cat is about 12-14 years. However, some pet cats can live to be around 20 years old.
They can see very well in low light, however — a skill that gave domestic cats’ ancestors an advantage over their prey. As American Veterinarian explains, cats’ large corneas and pupils, which are about 50% larger than humans’, allow more light into their eyes. This extra light helps them to see in the dark.
While purring is thought to be partly voluntary and partly instinctive, research suggests that cats can purr for various reasons, using the soft rumble as a way of communicating and as a form of self-soothing or even healing. This is why cats will often purr when they’re injured, or after a stressful … event.
Luckily, preventing or stopping stress related to whisker fatigue at feeding time is as easy as replacing your cat’s food and water bowls. At meal time, provide a flat surface or a wide-enough bowl for cat food so that her whiskers don’t touch the sides of the bowl, Marrinan says.
Whisker fatigue happens to some cats when their sensitive whiskers are routinely being brushed up against something such as food or water bowls. It causes discomfort and even pain, and it makes eating and drinking stressful.
Kittens will chew off their sibling’s whiskers to show dominance. Sometimes mother cats will also chew off their kittens’ whiskers to dissuade them from wandering.
Cats cannot see in complete darkness, and they are nominally far-sighted. So, very long whiskers enable a cat to feel its way through places it cannot see well. Unfortunately, problems can emerge with the ‘whisker test’ when a cat has become overweight. Even if a cat’s whiskers seem overly long, you should never trim.