The whiskers around your cat’s eyes and of course, their nose are one of the most distinctive parts of your feline friend-so much so that the whiskers are used in a number of common figures of speech, such as describing something really good as being “the cat’s whiskers.” The whiskers of the cat are of course not simply there for decoration, and they fulfil a number of important roles for your cat, to the point that without whiskers, your cat would be at a distinct disadvantage.
The chances are that you have never seen a cat without whiskers, unless of course you own or know someone with a Sphynx cat, a hairless breed that generally does not have whiskers as well as lacking fur in general! However, if your regular furry cat appears to be losing their whiskers to the point that few, if any are left, this is not normal and indicates a problem that should be rectified, both because of the importance of the whiskers themselves, and also because conditions that can cause loss of whiskers have other implications for your cat too.
In this article, we will examine the various reasons behind why your cat might lose their whiskers, and what can be done about it. Read on to learn more.
Whiskers are a type of hair that grow from follicles in the same way that the rest of your cat’s hair does, but aside from this, they are very different to fur. Whiskers are referred to in scientific terms as vibrissae, and the follicles that they grow from are located in some of the most nerve-rich areas of the cat’s body, which means that when something touches a whisker even lightly, your cat will feel it.
The whiskers around the muzzle help your cat to judge distances and spaces-the span of the whiskers on any given cat of a healthy weight are approximately the same width as the widest part of your cat’s body-and if your cat’s whiskers cannot pass through a space comfortably, this tells the cat that the rest of them won’t be able to either!
Also, the whiskers provide sensory input and feedback from things close to your cat’s face, helping them to navigate in poor lighting conditions and adverse environments.
The whiskers around your cat’s eyebrows too also help to provide sensory feedback and protect the eyes, by means of catching fine particles of debris before they reach the eyes, and warning your cat of obstacles around their head.
Without whiskers, your cat’s ability to navigate the world and sense the things around them is severely hampered, and this specific form of sensitive touch feedback is something that cats rely heavily upon.
The chances are that you have found a whisker from your cat around your home on occasions, and because this is not really an everyday occurrence, you likely paid it some mind at the time. Cats’ whiskers go through growth, dormancy and shedding phases just like the rest of their fur, and so this shedding of the odd whisker on occasion is totally normal and not a problem-but if your cat seems to be losing a lot of whiskers within a short space of time and their faces don’t look like they are replacing them, something may be amiss.
Next, we will look at some of the things that can lead to problem whisker loss in cats.
While full or serious whisker loss in cats is not common, there are a range of different conditions that can lead to it, which you should be aware of.
If your cat is losing their whiskers and/or their fur, it is important to have them checked out by your vet in order to get to the bottom of the issue and begin the appropriate treatment.
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