I recently ran across one cat’s forum where one of the members was concerned about his cat and the fact that she was losing her whiskers. It’s a 1.5-year-old indoor cat, that rarely goes outside. In the past two days, the owner found two of her whisker, that seem to have fallen off. Apart from that, the cat is behaving quite normally, her hair is fine, shiny, and soft, she doesn’t shed much. Should this owner worry?
Due to their firmer build, cat whiskers do not fall off and do not shed as often as other cats’ hairs. However, it does happen occasionally. Cats usually lose 2-3 whiskers at the same time. There is no reason to worry about it. But if the cat starts losing more than just 2-3 whiskers and the new ones don’t replace them in a few weeks, that’s the clear sign that something is wrong. A vet visit is recommended.
Is It Bad If A Cat’s Whiskers Fall Off?
It’s not bad if the cat loses 2-3 whiskers from time to time ( every couple of months). This is a natural process and won’t do any damage. It’s important to track if the new whiskers replace the old ones. That should happen in a few weeks ( 6-12 weeks time is needed for whiskers to reach the full length and functionality ).
If the cat starts losing more whiskers than usual and more often than it should be, that can be bad, and it is a reason to react.
Why Do Cats Lose Whiskers?
Apart from a natural shedding process, there are occasions when the cats can lose whiskers.
If your cat is losing more whiskers than usual, this can indicate that your pet suffers from the following conditions ( also check the other symptoms of actual condition, apart from whiskers loss )
- Increased thyroid activity or hypothyroidism (affected cat starts eting more but loses the weight, she is constantly thirsty, nervous, very active …)
- Bacterial infections ( fever, lack of appetite, runny nose, vomiting …)
- Parasite infection ( irritated and itchy skin, weight loss despite normal food intake, dirty ears, poor hair coat…)
- Diabetes of different types ( excessive thirst, increased urination and appetite, sudden wheight loss)
- Allergic reaction ( skin itchiness, sneezing, coughing, vomiting, diareha)
- Metabolic disorders ( seizures, lack of energy, vision problems, lack of coorination… )
Stress is also one of the triggers for whiskers’ loss in cats. Your cat can be stressed if you have recently moved to a new home and she is still not familiar with the new living space.
Another reason for cats to be stressed is the arrival of a new pet ( cat or dog ).
Boredom/lack of mental stimulation and physical activity can cause stress in cats as well as excessive noise (you have TV constantly on, play loud music, your dog barks a lot …) and too much touching.
Of course, you will be able to see some other symptoms that your cat is stressed, besides whiskers loss. These are over-grooming, house soiling, increased anxiety, overeating, becoming less tolerant of people… If this is your case, do read this article, as explains how to reduce your cat’s stress.
Not only the disease or stress cause whiskers loss. The cat’s whiskers may also be injured or damaged, by accident or even by you.
Damage most often occurs when curious cats get too close to the heat source and “scorch” the whiskers. Those whiskers will be replaced by new ones in time, so don’t worry!
In some cats breeds, the whiskers can break for no reason. This is typical of sphinxes.
If the whiskers cracking is accompanied by any change in the animal’s behavior or condition, then you should consult the vet. Cat’s whiskers may crack for the following reasons:
- Vitamin deficiency. Associated symptoms are hair loss, unhealthy claws (brittleness, stratification), bad breath.
- Quality of the food. Poor qulaity,cheap food, excessive amounts of fish ..
- Development of fungi. In this case, the structure of the whiskers becomes brittle.
- The appearance of parasites in the body and lice in the cat’s coat
Whiskers may fall off as a result of the fight. This is more common for outdoor cats but even if you have multiple cats that live inside of your house, the fight among them is possible.
Humans can damage cats’ whiskers by cutting them off or pulling them.
It’s important to know that you should never cut your cat’s whiskers.
The whiskers are a type of thick hair and if you cut them, that won’t hurt your feline friend since there are no nerves in them. But there is no single reason to cut them as you will cause great discomfort for your cat, she will become confused and disoriented without her whiskers.
Cat’s whiskers work as cat’s environmental scanning system. They help her to move through the space, to feel the objects, to know how narrow is the passage she wants to go through, to ”see” better at night.
Can A Cat Live Without Whiskers?
A cat can survive without whiskers but she would experience a lot of problems. She needs whiskers to navigate the environment. If she doesn’t have whiskers, she easily becomes disoriented.
She could hardly estimate the size of the passage or openings where she wants to go through so she can easily get stuck.
Since she cannot see the things/objects/animals/humans that are close to her eyes, the whiskers detect even the smallest movement of air telling her that something is there. The whiskers for cats are like antennas for insects.
Living without whiskers for an indoor cat that has been provided with food and care, that doesn’t live with any other pet, could be discomfortable and confusing. Living without whiskers for a stray or feral cat is impossible.
Hopefully, after reading this article you understand the importance of whiskers in cats and potential problem that may occur