Whiskers are the stiff hair growth on a cat’s face and legs. Along with making our little kitten look cuter, these whiskers are a cat’s own GPS and Radar system. You must have always heard never to cut or trim your cat’s whiskers, in the article below you will know why is this so:
How do whiskers work?
Every single whisker/hair of your cat is a compilation of supersensitive nerves which helps the cat is judging the space and distance. With the use of these whiskers, the cat decides basic things like Whether it will fit into the small box or not? How far is the platform and how long leap it needs to take to get there?
At the tip of each whisker are sensory organs which pick up vibrations from the surrounding, this tells the cat where it is or what other creatures are in its close vicinity. Follicles, i.e. the sacs at the end of each whisker are deep with numerous nerve endings that send signals to the cat’s bain and hence help them analyze their surroundings. Whereas whiskers at the cat’s leg give it is the grip that enables them to climb trees.
Even blind cats can very easily navigate through a stuffed room, just with the use of their whiskers’ sensibility. If their vibrissae are brushed by anything, they can quickly detect its proximity, size, texture even though they are unable to see the object. Furthermore, with the help of these super-sensitive hairs, they can sense the slightest movements, even in the air.
Most of the cat’s whiskers are rooted in the upper lip’s thick pad, a small portion of it is also in the eyebrow, chin, and feet area.
Why do cats shed their whiskers?
As with their fur, cats also shed their whiskers from time to time. But, same as the other hair, new baby whiskers shoot out of the root before the old one falls.
Sometimes, in the normal shedding process, they may not grow from certain roots and you can see the missing vibrissae vacancy, but it does not occur with all of them together; just one or two.
But if you find your cat is shedding too much of its whiskers and the new growth is considerably low, then there might be something wrong with your cat’s body. In such a case, it is strongly advised to seek professional help before things go out of hand.
Can you trim or cut cat’s whiskers?
Despite cats shedding their whiskers naturally, it is never a good idea to trim or cut it by yourself. Reason being, the hypersensitivity of the vibrissae they are not in any direct connection with the muscular or nervous system.
Cutting the cat’s whiskers can adversely harm them in many ways. Cat’s incredible sensitivity helps them do daily stuff and therefore is a crucial part of their body. Cutting or trimming them could cause injury or even trauma in your little pet. If you trim it too near to the roots, there is a small probability that your poor pet could lose its whisker’s sensitivity.
This will lead to a terrible nightmare for any cat owner, after losing their super sensitive vibrissae, the cat gets stuck in wide open because it will not be able to judge that if they can go through.
Secondly, the cats use their whiskers to express their filling and mood. Without them, you will not be able to know if your fluffy friend is excited, angry, scared, happy, or just startled.
Furthermore, post-cutting or trimming, whiskers will take some time to grow, during that time the cat will be extremely insecure and disoriented, and this is the last thing any cat parent wants to happen.
What if you have already cut/trimmed your cat’s whiskers?
Unfortunately, if you have already cut or trimmed your cat’s vibrissae, there is not much to worry about. They will grow back again just like any other hair.
Your pet would not feel any kind of pain while trimming or cutting the hair. Just like human hair, it would not hurt if it is trimmed, but it would surely pain a lot if it is plucked because it is rooted deep inside their follicles which is an extremely sensitive area.
But as mentioned before it is always a dangerous task to perform, therefore do never again try to cut your pet’s vibrissae.
Always try to protest cat’s whiskers
According to VCA Hospital notes, “40% of the brain’s sensory area aligns with parts of the body that have whiskers”. Therefore they should be protected at any cost.
Try to minimize brushing the whiskers, especially roughly. Always be gentle with the sensitive areas of your cat while play and with your feline pet.
Constant contact of whiskers with the surface even water and a feeding bowl can easily stress out your cat. To prevent this, you can try to switch to flat serving plates, this way they can easily eat and drink without any problem.
Word to the wise!
In a nutshell, you should always avoid trimming or cutting your cat’s whiskers. Do not brush them vigorously and never try to curl or straighten their whiskers to make them look more cute, it can severely hurt them. Just let them shed their whiskers naturally.