Prickly and cute, your cat’s whiskers aren’t merely adorable accessories. They’re more like highly specialized antennae that guide your cat around the house and help them estimate tight squeezes and high jumps. Without their whiskers, your cat would be wandering around without a compass, so to speak. Not only could they crash into objects, but they also have an increased risk of miscalculating jumps, which could result in falls or injuries. Given the importance of cat whiskers, you should never cut them intentionally. However, your cat could lose their whiskers due to an accident, medical procedure, or condition where their hair falls out, such as alopecia or hyperthyroidism1. Your cat’s whiskers should grow back under normal circumstances, but it could take up to 6 months for them to grow back fully.
What Do Your Cat’s Whiskers Actually Do?
Your cat’s whiskers are specialized hairs that inform them about their environment. Tiny nerves at the roots of their whiskers send signals to your cat’s brain that sense proximity to objects and movement. For example, your cat uses their whiskers to gauge distance to see if they can squeeze between your kitchen cabinets. Cats don’t have collar bones or wide shoulders to stop them from taking dangerous risks, so their whiskers perform this safety function. Additionally, your cat’s face isn’t the only place they have whiskers. Felines also have them on the back of their legs, which helps them navigate through tall brush.
How Long Do Whiskers Take to Grow Back?
You should never cut your cat’s whiskers since they perform so many vital functions. In rare instances, your veterinarian may have to cut your cat’s whiskers to solve a medical problem, but they only will if they think it’s absolutely necessary. The good news is that your cat’s whiskers will grow back if they are only cut. If the hair follicle becomes damaged for some reason, their whiskers may not grow back.
Do Cats Shed Their Whiskers?
You might find an occasional whisker laying around your house. Unless you start seeing them frequently, this shouldn’t bother you. Cats shed their whiskers like they do their fur. However, cats will usually only lose one or two whiskers at a time since it often takes 3-6 months for them to grow back.
Some diseases such as hyperthyroidism may cause your cat to lose an excessive amount of hair, including their whiskers. You should always take your cat to the vet if you begin noticing bald patches or significantly more hair loss than usual since that can signify disease.
Cats need whiskers to navigate. Although they’ll grow back if cut, whiskers grow at such a slow rate that it’ll take 3-6 months before they’re back to normal. You should never cut your cat’s whiskers since that puts them at an increased risk of accidents and injuries. If they do become severed for some reason, they’ll usually grow back within a few months as long as the hair follicle isn’t damaged or there isn’t an underlying illness.
Featured Image Credit: Annette Meyer, Pixabay