Yes, cats’ whiskers grow back. Whiskers are hair shafts, and just like their fur, it sheds off and eventually grows again. But cats do not shed their whiskers all at the same time; they just lose a few at a time.
A cat has about 24 whiskers, 12 on each side of its nose in 4 horizontal rows. Their whiskers are two times as thick as ordinary hair, with roots that is three times deeper. It is rich in nerve endings and blood supply. Whiskers are also termed as “vibrissae” or tactile hair. You may also see shorty bristled whiskers above their eyes, cheeks, chin and jawline and along the back forelegs. These additional whiskers are used to sense object, boundaries, and textures.
Cats’ whiskers are grouped into specific locations. The longest and most prominent whiskers are mystacial whiskers, these are the whiskers located alone their muzzle. The superciliary whiskers are those located over the cats’ eyes. The carpal whiskers are those located at the back of the cats’ forelegs. At the tip of the cats whiskers are proprioceptors. These receptors are very sensitive sensory organs. The proprioceptors send tactile signals to the brain and nervous system.
Cats use their whiskers in a variety of reasons. The cat is a nocturnal hunter. Whiskers are highly efficient tools when cats hunt at night. In the darkness they use their whiskers to avoid objects and locate its way around. If a cat loses its whiskers, its ability to hunt may be compromised. Whiskers also serve as their barometer of feelings and mood. Cats also use their whiskers as an instrument in communication. Whiskers that are pulled back imply that a cat is angry or threatened. A happy, relaxed and content cat will have its whiskers pulled forward. They also make use of their whiskers to judge the width or gaps and the proximity of an object. Whiskers are measuring tools that assess if the cat can get through a tight opening. Cats’ whiskers are as wide as their body, so it is an excellent measuring tool. You may observe that cats stick their head at an opening before attempting to enter. Your cat is trying to measure if he can get through. Whisker helps them to navigate. They can sense miniscule changes in air currents. A cat can unerringly navigate in the dark because the whiskers can sense any obstruction in the cat’s path.
Their eyebrow whiskers or superciliary whiskers protect their eyes by activating a blink reflex when rubbles get close to their eyes. Cats’ foreleg whiskers or carpal vibrissae assist them to keep track of their prey. It helps them in measuring how large their prey is. Cats are farsighted and cannot see the prey in their clutches.
Some cats may be uncomfortable in eating in a narrow bowl, because their whisker comes in contact with the bowl. However, cats’ tolerance level varies. So you may give your cat a widely spaced bowl or a bowl with low sides. Cutting your cats’ whiskers is a big no-no. Cutting or trimming the whiskers may interfere with their natural alignment. Removing the whiskers is like removing one of your cats’ senses. Cutting your cats’ whiskers may also alter your cats’ ability to judge spaces. Experts say that cats feel pain whenever their whiskers are cut or trimmed because they are so sensitive. Remember that whiskers are a vital part in your cats’ body. It enables to them to move and it gives them security. Without whiskers cats would be confused and lost. Shedding of cats’ whiskers from time to time is normal. Whiskers will grow back within a few days or weeks’ time. This should not be a cause of concern for owners.