Why Are My Cat’s Whiskers So Long?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 10, 2019
Why Are My Cat’s Whiskers So Long?

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A cat’s whiskers, otherwise known as vibrissae, are incredibly interesting touch receptors. These sensory tools help cats maneuver in the dark or in threatening situations. Are you wondering, why are my cat’s whiskers so long? or whether or not cat whiskers fall out? if so, you’ve come to the right place. A cat’s whiskers are incredibly important and sensitive. Understanding their function is of the utmost importance.

If you want to know more about your cat’s whiskers, keep reading! Here at AnimalWised we will be discussing what cat whiskers are, why your cat’s whisker’s are so long and more importantly, what happens if you cut a cat’s whiskers.

Do cat whiskers grow back?

Do cats whiskers fall out? yes, sometimes. It’s natural that if your cat’s whiskers have fallen out that you may worry. But, luckily, cat’s whiskers do grow back. Although thicker and more tactile, these hairs grow like any other hair on a cat’s body.

Why do my cat’s whiskers fall out?

When your cat shed’s hair, they can also sometimes shed a couple of whiskers. A cat generally has between 8-12 whiskers on each cheek. If you notice your cat shedding hair and has lost some cat whiskers don’t worry! This is completely normal.

There are, however, some other factors that may also explain why your cat has lost some whiskers. If your cat has lost some whiskers but is also showing other symptoms, such a sores, dry patches and skin sensitivity, this needs to be addressed. Some more severe reasons why your cat is loosing whiskers include:

If you believe there is a more severe reason as to why your cat may be losing it’s whiskers, we recommend consulting a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Why Are My Cat’s Whiskers So Long? - Do cat whiskers grow back?

Why do cats have whiskers?

What are cat whiskers made of? Well, As we’ve already mentioned, whiskers are known as vibrissae. Did you know that a cat’s whiskers are not only found on each side of its muzzle? These thicker hairs can also be found on other parts of a cat’s body. These hairs usually measure the width of a feline’s body, therefore, allowing them to measure spaces in which they can fit and pass.

Vibrissae are cat sensors. The root/base of each whisker has incredibly sensitive nerve endings which communicate with a cat’s brain. Such communication allow’s a cat’s brain to identify distances of objects and spaces around them. This includes any surrounding pressure or anything that touches them[1]. The shaft of a cat’s whiskers are, however, made of keratin, and therefore contain no nerves.

But, how many whiskers does a cat have? This is one of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the topic of a cat’s whiskers. A feline usually has between 16 and 24 whiskers distributed equally on both sides of its snout. These vibrissae are formed in two neat rows on each side of a cat’s snout.

Cats don’t have very good ‘‘up-close’’ vision. Therefore, these whiskers allow cats to guide themselves while also detecting the presence of any possible nearby obstacle.

A cat’s vibrissae also functions as a great tool to help us humans read our felines. A cat’s mood is often expressed through their whiskers. For example, if your cat’s whiskers are relaxed, so are they. If, however, they are straight,tense and facing forward, your cat is alert. An angry cat will have it’s whiskers flatten to its face. For more about what your cat is showing through its body, take a look at our article: Cat body language, with examples and pictures!

Why are my cat’s whiskers so long?

A cat’s whiskers grow out to equal the width of a cat. If your cat’s whiskers are very long, there is nothing to worry about. If you have a large cat, expect it to have longer whiskers. In fact, it is known that Maine coons (large cat breed) usually have quite long whiskers. Whatever you do, do not cut them. Keep reading to find out more about why you SHOULDN’T cut your cat’s whiskers.

If your cat has large whiskers, take a look at whether it fits into our article on: the 12 largest cat breeds!

What happens if you cut a cat’s whiskers?

Does it hurt a cat if you cut it’s whiskers? well, not quite. As we have already mentioned, vibrissae are like other hair on a cat’s body. The only difference is that they are thicker and hold a different function. There are no nerves along a cat’s whiskers, therefore, there is no risk of bleeding or pain[2].

However, if you cut a cat’s whisker, you put a cat in a situation where they lose their ability to orientate themselves correctly in space. This mean, that by cutting a cat’s whiskers, they will lose the ability to perceive anything close due to their weak close-vision. If you cut a cat’s whiskers, they will not be able do differentiate between objects which are close or far from them, in addition to struggling to know whether or not they will fit correctly into a space. If you cut your cat’s whiskers, you will notice that they will become somewhat clumsy. And due to this lack of natural ability, a cat that has had its whiskers cut becomes more prone to suffering from stress. For more, we recommend reading up on: Symptoms of stress in cats.

Therefore, considering all of the above information, we do not advise cutting your cat’s whiskers, under any circumstance.

Why Are My Cat’s Whiskers So Long? - What happens if you cut a cat’s whiskers?

Cat whiskers facts: myths about cat whiskers

As we have seen, a cat’s whiskers are very special and necessary. This is why we have decided to list some false myths about cat whiskers that every cat owner should be aware of:

  • They do not grow back after cutting or falling: This is not true, a cat’s whiskers do grow back.
  • When cut they hurt and bleed: a cat’s whisker do not hold nerve ending along the hair, only at its root.
  • It is okay to cut a cat’s whiskers: NOT IT IS NOT. Do not cut your cat’s whiskers.
  • A feline that has had its whiskers cut will not leave the house: This is not true. If you have cut your cut’s whiskers they will do as they please, unaware of what has happened. This is very dangerous for a cat as they can fall or, by lacking orientation, find themselves in a dangerous situation.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Are My Cat’s Whiskers So Long?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.


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