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Home > Cats > Why Are My Cat’s Whiskers So Short? 7 Vet Reviewed Reasons

Why Are My Cat’s Whiskers So Short? 7 Vet Reviewed Reasons

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Dr. Lauren Demos

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If you’re like most cat parents, you likely adore your cat’s whiskers. Whiskers add so much to the cuteness factor of our cats, and they come in such a wide variety of colors, shapes, and lengths.

But what if your cat’s whiskers seem really short? Is this something that you should worry about?

Here, we discuss everything whiskers so you can learn why your cat’s whiskers might be short, as well as how whiskers help cats.

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The 7 Reasons Cats Have Short Whiskers

1. Some Breeds Have Short Whiskers

If your cat has always had short whiskers, it might be breed related. The Devon RexCornish RexSelkirk Rex and the Sphynx are all breeds that have short or no whiskers. Their haircoats are also unique: some are wavy and curly, and the Sphynx is famous for being hairless.

chocolate point silver devon rex cat in the garden
Image Credit: jojosmb, Shutterstock

2. Whiskers Have Been Chewed Off

Sometimes, when kittens are playing with their littermates, they might have their whiskers chewed off during play. In other cases, mother cats have been known to chew off their kitten’s whiskers. It’s thought that they do this to keep their kittens close to them and not wander away from the nest.

It can also occur between adult cats, which might be accidental or a potential sign of stress.


3. The Cat Is Overgrooming

This can occur between two cats or a mother and her kittens. If the mother is under stress, she might take to overgrooming her kittens, and short whiskers can result.

Overgrooming in general can occur because of pain, allergies, boredom, or stress. When a cat starts overgrooming, you’ll notice patches of fur missing on the coat.

adorable cat with eyes-closed enjoying cleaning itself
Image Credit: Erik Glez, Shutterstock

4. Someone Cut Them

This can happen whether your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat. Some people in your neighborhood might find cutting a cat’s whiskers funny. Or you might want to check in with the people in your household.

If someone has been cutting your cat’s whiskers, you need to put a stop to it. In a way, a cat’s whiskers are just as important as their legs!


5. It’s Due to Natural Breakage and Shedding

Cat’s whiskers tend to break and shed quite naturally. Whiskers are made from keratin, which is what our hair is made of, and similarly, the whiskers sometimes fall out or break off.

This is nothing to worry about and is perfectly normal. New whiskers will grow and take the place of any missing whiskers. They can look short compared to the other whiskers.

cute orange and white cat touching human hand
Image Credit: tache, Shutterstock

6. There’s a Health Issue

In addition to other worrying signs, short whiskers can sometimes be a sign of a health issue. Conditions and infections that affect the hair coat can result in whiskers falling out.

Additionally, cats on chemotherapy drugs can also lose their whiskers. If your cat’s whiskers are short or they seem to be losing too many in addition to other signs of illness, see your vet.


7. Fighting or Trauma

Sometimes, cats play rough or get into a full-blown fight. If you’ve ever seen cats fighting, you’ll notice tufts of fur flying. They’ll likely lose a few whiskers in the process. Getting too close to a candle can similarly damage a whisker or two.

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Why Do Cats Need Whiskers?

Whiskers are far more essential to cats than many might think. Whiskers are made from keratin and are much coarser and thicker than regular hair. They can be found above the upper lip, above the eyes, near the ears, on the chin, and on the forelegs.

They are more sensitive than regular hair because the follicles from which whiskers grow are packed with nerves. The whiskers can be compared to our fingers: They are just as sensitive and help cats feel their way around.

close up of cat with long whiskers looking at the camera
Image Credit: Jumpstory

Orientation

Due to the nerves and blood vessels that the follicles of the whiskers are embedded in, they can help orient cats. They help cats tell up from down, which is part of what helps cats land on their feet.

The whiskers/nerve endings send messages to the cat’s brain, informing it what each part of the body is doing.

Their whiskers also help cats hunt at night and navigate through small, tight spaces.

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Conclusion

For some cat breeds, short whiskers are perfectly normal. But if your cat has long whiskers and it seems like most of them are short, someone might be cutting them or there’s potentially a health problem.

Cutting a cat’s whiskers doesn’t physically hurt them. However, whiskers should never be cut, as they serve important functions for a cat. A cat’s whiskers are glorious in their own way, so keeping them as long as they should be and ensuring that your cat is healthy is in your cat’s and your best interests.


Featured Image Credit: Shvaygert Ekaterina, Shutterstock

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