Yes, cat whiskers grow, fall out, and eventually grow back although it may take quite a while, usually around two to three months. They grow from the whisker pad which is located between the cat’s mouth and nose. Whiskers normally grow at an equivalent width as your cat.
You should not cut your cat’s whiskers because they are connected deep in the nerve tissues and play vital functions such as communicating emotions and as body balancers and radar sensors.
Do cat whiskers grow?
Whiskers are coarser, thicker, and more sensitive than regular cat hairs. Most cats usually have 12 whiskers that are arranged on four rows in each of their cheeks. They are usually located above the eyes, on the chin, forelegs, near the ears, and just above the upper lip. The location and pattern vary among breeds and Maine Coon cats have longer whiskers compared to other breeds, around 4 to 6 inches in length.
Yes, cat whiskers grow back after they fall out but it may take quite a while. They grow from the whisker pad and they are more sensitive than regular hairs since the follicles are packed with blood vessels and nerves. The roots are three times deeper compared to regular hairs. Interestingly, whiskers are sensitive just like a human’s fingertips.
What are the purposes of a cat’s whiskers?
Your cat’s whiskers are aptly called tactile hairs but do not feel anything since they just transmit information to the sensory cells when they detect movement or objects. Each time an object brushes against the whiskers, they vibrate and stimulate the nerves in hair follicles. This may well explain why its scientific name is “vibrissae”, from the Latin word vibrio, which means, “to vibrate”.
These are the essential purposes of a cat’s whiskers:
A cat’s whiskers serve as radar sensors.
Whiskers are essential because they help cats to “see” things by sending information to the brain. Felines do not have keen vision, especially at night although they have superior senses of hearing and smell. They also have difficulty focusing on objects up-close. Through the help of whiskers that detect vibrations on air currents, cats can notice solid objects. Thus, whiskers act as radar sensors.
Cats can locate their food and water bowls or toys during the night through their whiskers which also prevent them from bumping into walls in the darkness. Remarkably, by detecting changes in air currents, whiskers transmit information about the shape, size, and speed of nearby things and objects to help cats navigate their surroundings.
Your cat’s whiskers also function as body balancers.
The tips of a cat’s whiskers have proprioceptors which are special sensory organs. These proprioceptors transmit messages to the brain about the position of the body and limbs so that the cat becomes aware of what each body part is doing. This may help explain why cats always land on their feet.
They help to communicate emotions.
When you notice that your cat’s whiskers are relaxed it means that your cat is content and calm. If you notice that your cat’s whiskers are elevated above his eyes, it is an indication that she is happy or curious. This also gives a cat a wide-eyed appearance that pet owners find endearing. If the whiskers are pushed forward, it means that your cat is alert or watchful.
Whiskers that are flattened in the opposite direction and against the face may mean your cat is unhappy and scared while a threatened cat may pull the whiskers taut in the muzzle, flairs it, and directs it towards an assumed threat such as another cat or dog.
Whiskers protect and keep cats away from trouble or from getting stuck.
Whiskers act as protectors since they prompt cats when there are obstructions like thorny grasses along their way so they will not get hurt. It also helps cats from getting into jams such as when a cat approaches a narrow spot in the fence or narrow areas between rocks or furniture. Whiskers help a cat to determine if she can fit through it or not to avoid getting stuck or hurt.
What are the reasons why cats lose their whiskers?
These are some of the possible medical reasons why cats may lose their whiskers:
- fungal infections such as ringworm
- facial bacterial infection
- mite infestation
- immune disorder
- a hormonal disorder like hypothyroidism
These are some of the possible non-medical reasons why cats may lose their whiskers:
- the cat groomer may accidentally cut it off
- kids may cut off a cat’s whiskers just for fun
- it may get accidentally burnt
- it may be due to catfights
Should you cut your cat’s whiskers?
No, you should NEVER cut your cat’s whiskers. While cutting it is painless, the loss of their whiskers may lead to negative side effects. Your cat will lose the ability to measure space. Also, your cat will not be able to distinguish an objects distance whether it is far or near which may lead to dizziness.
Cutting your cat’s whiskers may also potentially lead to stress. There were also cases where cats who lost their whiskers die of starvation since they were unable to adapt or function without them. Thankfully, most cats will eventually adapt should they lose their whiskers due to medical, accidental, or intentional reasons.
How to protect your cat’s whiskers?
Here are some ways to protect your cat’s whiskers:
- if you are petting your kitty, make sure to touch the whiskers very gently along the grain
- do not pluck or pull your cat’s whiskers
- if you are grooming your cat, do not ever cut the whiskers
- feed your cat in a shallow dish or plate instead of a bowl so her whiskers won’t keep on touching the sides which is very discomforting
A cat’s whiskers provide beneficial functions that help felines to “see” even in total darkness. They also help with balance, act as radar sensors, and as a means to communicate emotions. Cat whiskers grow back but it may take two to three months. You should never cut your cat’s whiskers as it may lead to confusion, stress, and anxiety.