Do cats’ whiskers fall out?

Cats’ whiskers are hairs but they are thicker and stiffer than normal hair. They generally fall out naturally and are replaced by new ones.

There are approximately 24 whiskers in a cats’ muzzle. Twelve whiskers on each side of the muzzle are arranged in 4 horizontal rows. Whiskers are made from keratin. Human hair and nails are also made of keratin. Whiskers are also called tactile hair or vibrissae. These special hairs are very sensitive as they are twice as thick and three times deeply rooted than ordinary hair. Whiskers are highly sensitive because they are embedded on nerve-rich tissues. These nerves are connected in the cats’ brain. Whiskers can therefore feel even the slightest change in air currents. Whiskers on the cats’ muzzle are the longest. The upper two rows of the cats’ whiskers can move independently from the other whiskers. This allows these whiskers to provide the pet with precise measurements. You may also observe shortly bristled whiskers above the cats’ eyes, jaw, and chin and at the back of their forelegs.

Whiskers have many functions. These highly specialized hairs are the cat’s survival tools. Cats are nocturnal hunters and the whiskers allow the cats to hunt efficiently even in dim lights. Whiskers also serve as a barometer of the cat’s feelings. A cat with tightly pulled back whiskers is either feeling threatened or anxious. A cat that is relaxed and happy would have whiskers that are pulled forward. Whiskers are good motion indicators. They are used by cats to feel objects, sense objects, textures and boundaries. Cats’ whiskers also aid these animals in assessing if they can fit through an opening or not because their whiskers are as wide as its body.

Whiskers are hairs thus they are expected to fall out normally. Once a whisker is shed, another whisker would grow in its place. However, there are instances when the cat would shed a lot of whiskers. Because of the size, a whisker that falls off would be very noticeable. Vet consultation is necessary if the pet is shedding its whisker excessively especially if no new growths are noticed.

Damaged to the whiskers can throw the cat’s senses off kilter. Never trim or cut your cats’ whiskers. Studies have shown that cats can feel pain when their whiskers are cut or trimmed. Cats may get stressed if their whiskers are damaged. Whiskers should be allowed to grow naturally as cutting or straightening them alters their natural alignment. Cats are very inquisitive and often find themselves in the wrong places. So be certain to keep your cat away from flames. Open flames can singe the cat’s whiskers. And once the cats’ whiskers are burned up to their roots it will never grow back.

Cats without whiskers have difficulty in running and in walking especially in the dark. Cats tend to be disoriented without them. Cats’ whiskers grow just like hair. But it will take a while. Your cat is in danger of getting stuck in places if the full or normal length of the whiskers is not regained. Cats with damaged whiskers have trouble in navigating at night. They sometimes attack the wrong part of their captured prey.
In order to prevent your cats’ whiskers from being damaged, try to keep your cat inside the house. Certain factors can cause cats’ whiskers to be damaged. Bushes or tight spaces cause them to be removed quickly and painfully or a child could pull or cut them off. You can let your cat go outside for a short period of time, but make sure you put the pet on a leash. Avoid rearranging your house furniture if the pet’s whiskers have not yet attained its normal size. This allows the pet to navigate familiar ground especially in the dark.