Cats are fascinating creatures with many peculiar features, one of which is their whiskers. Whiskers are so long on some cats that they almost look like fur extensions!
Do cat whiskers grow back if they’re cut? How harmful is it, and what exactly happens if you cut a cat’s whiskers? Read on to find out why you should never do this.
Do Cat Whiskers Grow Back
Cat whiskers, also known as vibrissae, are highly specialized hairs that can grow up to twice the length of their haircoat. While it’s in no way recommended to cut your cat’s whiskers, if they do get cut or broken, they will usually grow back in approximately six to eight weeks.
Cats’ whiskers do fall off naturally, and in most cases, that’s completely normal. However, it should be noted that if they don’t fall out naturally, i.e., you cut them, that can affect your cat’s ability to sense objects and cause mobility issues, so definitely avoid doing that. If you notice that your cat is losing its whiskers due to trauma or illness, contact your veterinarian for advice.
Why Do Cats Have Whiskers
Cats use their whiskers to provide additional sensory information, with 100 to 200 neurons on each hair. The hairs assist them in navigating, sensing, and comprehending their surroundings. These thin, long cat hairs are made of keratin, comparable to human hair, and linked to sensory nerves at the whisker follicles. Let’s see what cat whiskers are for.
- Mood indicator: These tiny hairs have muscles that let them move in response to various scenarios. Relaxed whiskers suggest that your cat is peaceful and content. Whiskers pointed forward indicate curiosity, while an angry or fearful cat will have its whiskers drawn back against its face.
- Touch: Whiskers are sensitive and help cats when exploring objects by detecting air currents. When your cat rubs against something, like your leg, it’s often because its whiskers were the first thing to feel how warm it was.
- Orientation: Cats use them to judge whether they will fit through an opening or not. When they jump, their whiskers tell them where they will land and if something is close enough for them to grab onto. Hence, you never find cats stuck in places too small for them!
- Hunt prey better at night: Cats use their whiskers to sense prey in the dark and for better stability when chasing.
These are good enough reasons to let our cats keep their whiskers, right?
|Did you know that cats have whiskers on the backs of their front paws too? If you want to read more fun facts about cats, browse this article for some interesting conmeowsation starters.|
What Happens if You Cut a Cats Whiskers
A cat without whiskers is like a cat with no sense of orientation, which already puts your feline friend in danger. But let’s say you hypothetically cut your cat’s whiskers because… well, there’s no valid reason, and it can be extremely harmful—and here’s why.
Even slight overstimulation of whiskers can lead to something called whisker fatigue in cats—this is basically an overflow of sensory information going from proprioceptors to cats’ nervous systems. Now imagine how painful and disorienting cutting them off would be.
If a cat has its whiskers cut, it can cause the animal extreme distress and confusion. Since cats use their whiskers for navigation and balance, as well as for sensing objects in their environment, these little pointy hairs are a necessity.
By cutting their whiskers, a cat would be deprived of this essential sensory organ, making the cat disoriented. Furthermore, the associated pain and fear can cause severe consequences for the animal’s emotional well-being.
The whisker loss sometimes occurs because of less-than-ideal health conditions, though, and there’s not much you can do about it. This mostly happens due to issues such as mange and skin infections or blood vessel inflammation like vasculitis.
|Are you a new cat owner and don’t know where to start? Take a quick read about basic cat care—your feline will be thankful.|
Frequently Asked Questions
Does it hurt to cut cats’ whiskers?
Yes, it does. Cats use their whiskers for various purposes, including navigation and detecting movement. When you cut off a cat’s whiskers, you are taking away one of its senses and making it difficult for the cat to maneuver around its environment.
How often do cats shed whiskers?
Most healthy felines shed whiskers once every few months, and it’s generally a healthy sign when they do.
Do cats need their whiskers?
Yes, without a doubt. Cat whiskers are highly sensitive and play an essential role in the cat’s navigation and hunting abilities. For example, cat whiskers help cats gauge the width of openings they’re trying to navigate (like doorways) and also help them determine if they can fit through space without getting stuck.
So, do cat whiskers grow back? The answer is yes, but not as quickly as they’re lost. Depending on the circumstances, new whiskers could take a few weeks to start growing again.
It turns out whiskers help cats detect movement and changes in air pressure, which is why they can navigate so well in the dark. They also act as sensory organs that let cats know when they’re close to something or when something is coming up from behind them. Pretty nifty, right?