A cat’s whiskers will eventually grow back if they fall out or are pulled out. However, it takes quite a while for this to occur. Without their whiskers, a cat may have a hard time navigating or perceiving their environment in certain situations. Cats use their whiskers more often than you might think. If they all suddenly disappeared, the cat would be at a significant disadvantage.
Fortunately, a cat’s lost whiskers won’t be gone forever. However, it will take about 6 weeks to 3 months for them to grow back. They won’t be at their complete length, but at this point, they will be long enough to be functional.
For this reason, we never recommend cutting your cat’s whiskers. It is not necessary and causes far more problems than it may fix.
What Happens If a Cat’s Whiskers Get Cut Off?
If many of a cat’s whiskers are cut off, they will be disoriented and unable to navigate as well as they could before. The follicles of whiskers have many nerve receptors, so pulling or cutting a whisker is painful for your cat—it isn’t akin to a haircut. Your cat uses their whiskers to help them get around their environment.
A cat’s whiskers are attached to powerful nerve endings. They are fine-tuned and constantly send messages to your cat’s brain. Your cat actually has whiskers in a variety of places, not just on the front of their face.
They use their whiskers as feelers, helping them gather information about their surroundings. These whiskers can even tell differences in air currents, enabling the cat to pick up on movement and avoid attacks. These whiskers also detect prey movement, which helps cats hunt successfully. Cats are far sighted and rely on their whiskers to perceive objects close to their face.
If you cut your cat’s whiskers, you would take this early detection system away from them. Not only would this limit a cat’s ability to get around, but they would also become quite confused. They would have trouble hunting and be easier to sneak up on. They would also have difficulty jumping because their whiskers assist with that task.
You’d basically be taking away one of their major senses. Without that sense, your cat would be lost for quite a while. In addition, the entire process would be very painful for your cat. Pulling out a whisker would also likely result in bleeding.
Will Broken Cat Whiskers Grow Back?
Yes, though it may take a while. If a whisker only broke a little bit, it might still be functional. Functional whiskers should still provide your cat with the information that they need, even if they aren’t the complete length.
However, if the whisker broke all the way, you’ll probably end up with a confused cat for at least a few weeks. It can take as long as 3 months for a whisker to grow back.
Will It Hurt a Cat If You Cut Their Whiskers?
Yes, the base of a whisker has many nerve endings, and the action of cutting a whisker will definitely be felt by the cat. The sensation of the whisker as it’s cut will be associated with discomfort and pain. Pulling out a whisker or cutting it too close to its base may also result in bleeding.
Is It Bad for a Cat to Lose a Whisker?
It may be, though it depends on the reason. Many cats shed their whiskers, like the rest of their fur. Eventually, the whiskers get old and need to fall off to allow new whiskers to grow in their place. However, just like their guard hairs (top coat), this is a slow process and is not the same as seasonal sheddings of an undercoat. This is completely natural and shouldn’t be an issue. A loss of an individual whisker due to a natural shed isn’t a big deal.
Some skin infections can also cause fur and whisker loss. Ringworm, for instance, can cause excessive whisker loss and is most common in younger felines.
Therefore, you may want to visit a vet if you suddenly notice your feline losing more whiskers than normal. They may need to be treated for an underlying condition. Cats rarely show any signs of their illnesses, so you may only notice excessive fur loss, crusty skin, and other lesions right before things get serious.
Cats need their whiskers. While they do grow back, it takes a rather long time. If many whiskers are cut off at once, cats can suffer from sensory issues while waiting for them to come back. For this reason, you should never cut your cat’s whiskers. Even felines with long hair do not need their whiskers cut.
If your cat loses a whisker or two, they are likely just shedding them. This is common in all cats because their whiskers need to be shed just like any other type of fur. However, it can also be a sign of an underlying illness if it gets particularly severe.
Featured Image Credit by: Annette Meyer, Pixabay