Do cats shed their whiskers?

Cats shed. Shedding is a natural event in the life of a cat. When cats shed, old hair is replaced with new growth. Aside from the body hair, cats shed their whiskers as well. Whiskers are larger than that cat’s ordinary hair thus cat owners would easily see the whisker shed by the pet. Yes, cats shed their whiskers from time to time

Cat whiskers are specialized hairs that are more than twice the size of the ordinary hair. These specialized hairs are deeply embedded on a specialized follicle called blood sinus. The follicle is richly supplied with nerve endings so that once the whiskers detect motion or a change in air pressure, information will be instantly sent to the brain. These highly tactile hairs are also called vibrissae. Cats have 24 whiskers on the face – 12 of these specialized hairs are arranged in 4 horizontal rows on each side of the face. Whiskers are as well found above the eye line, on the chin, paws and legs.

Indeed cats are hairy animals. As if the coat is not enough, cats would still have these specialized hairs. Whiskers though are very important to cats. Whiskers are used by cats for a variety of reasons. A whisker is a navigational equipment, a tool that indicates the mood of the cat, a communication device and a device used to get information vital to the cat’s existence. Whiskers are about as long as the width of the body. It is therefore used by the cat to measure opening such as when the cat is pursuing a prey that enters its den. The cat can enter the tight space if the whiskers did not touch the sides of the opening. Whiskers are used to scan the area. Cats are nocturnal hunters equipped with the ability to see better in very low lights. These animals can run after the prey without bumping into things because the whiskers serve as radar that picks up change in air current if something is on the cat’s path. Whiskers are mood indicators thus they are used by the cat to communicate with humans and with other animals. Pulled back whiskers indicate that the pet is either tense or angry. Whiskers that are pushed forward indicate the cat’s curiousness. Happy and contented cats have relaxed whiskers.

Without the whiskers, cats would be lost and confused. Cats would not be able to know if their bodies would fit into the space. When hunting at night, a whiskerless cat would not be able to know if there is an object on its path. Unfortunately some cat owners would trim the whiskers. Devon Rex cats have curly whiskers and some owners would try to straighten the pet’s whiskers. Cat owners are therefore advised to leave the pet’s whiskers alone.

It takes about 2 to 3 months before the whiskers would grow back. Thus a cat owner that has removed the whiskers of the pet would render the pet incapacitated for about the same time. Shedding whiskers is a normal process. Just like the shedding process of the hair that covers the cat’s body, whiskers are not shed all at the same time. One or two whiskers that were shed will be replaced with new growths. Nature has intended cats to have whiskers all the time so that these animals would remain in touch with their environment.

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