How many cat owners have either accidentally cut or plucked their cat while grooming, or have kids that decided to give kitty a trim? This isn’t uncommon, nor is the feeling of guilt that goes with it. You may wonder if you just caused permanent damage to your pet and if those whiskers will ever grow back.
Will cats’ whiskers grow back? Your cat’s whiskers will grow back if you accidentally cut them off. In fact, they shed and regrow a lot like human hair, so your cat should be just fine. It might cause them some temporary inconvenience, but nothing more than that. However, whiskers are essentially a sensory tool for cats, and they should never be cut or trimmed on purpose.
Don’t worry too much. While there are issues in cutting a cat’s whiskers, especially for owners that do so for cosmetic reasons, your cat will recover in time. Let’s take a closer look at why it is such a bad idea to trim or pluck whiskers and the process of growing them back.
Do Cat Whiskers Grow Back?
The good news here is that your cat’s whiskers will grow back if you accidentally cut them off. In fact, they shed and regrow a lot like human hair. So, there is some hope in those seemingly disastrous moments. However, vets and other experts strongly discourage owners from cutting or trimming whiskers. This is because of their sensitivity and the way they help a cat interact with their environment. Leave the whiskers to shed and regrow naturally.
Here are some of the key points to remember when it comes to cat whiskers.
- Cat whiskers are essential for signaling mood and helping cats navigate in the dark.
- When you cut those whiskers, you rob the cat of those abilities.
- While cutting cat whiskers isn’t life-threatening or dangerous, you are dealing with a highly sensitive part of their anatomy.
- Trust that your cat will shed and regrow those whiskers naturally.
- This process may take a little longer if your cat is older or unwell.
What Functions Do Whiskers Have?
The functionality of cat whiskers is more complex than you might imagine. For a start, these hairs are actually stiffer vibrissae that act as touch receptors. The proprioceptor at the end gives vital signals to a cat when they are out in the dark. They can feel the breeze or signal when a cat is close to a bush or a wall. They help with spatial awareness in tight spaces and even when detecting prey. That is why you will find whiskers on their legs and eyebrows too.
Then there is the fact that you can learn a lot about your cat’s mood from their whiskers.
- A cat’s whiskers will stand on end when they are excited or started by something.
- They will point forward when hunting or playing.
- They may also lie flat when the cat is scared.
Understanding these signals can help you provide better care for your cat in different situations.
What Happens If A Cat Loses Its Whiskers?
The loss of a couple of whiskers here and there isn’t going to make a massive difference. In fact, natural whisker loss is healthy. The problems arise when owners deliberately trim all of the whiskers or decide to pluck those they see as ugly or unimportant. The cat then loses this ability to feel what is around them and may become anxious about their surroundings. They won’t feel confident enough to climb or explore.
Can Cutting A Cat’s Whiskers Kill Them?
Not directly, no. But, you have to look at the bigger picture here. If you cut a cat’s whiskers and remove those vital defense mechanisms, you will put them in danger. An outside cat that heads out in the dark can’t determine its environment in the same way as it would with whiskers. They could misjudge situations and put themselves in danger.
Does It Hurt When A Cat Loses A Whisker?
Natural whisker loss isn’t going to hurt your pet. They should drop out and regrow without any issue. However, the sensitivity of the receptors and the proximity of the whisker to nerves and blood vessels is an issue. A small trim could still be uncomfortable even if you are careful. Plucking whiskers could be painful and distressing.
How Often Should Cats Lose Whiskers?
This natural whisker loss in cats should occur now and then to allow for the growth of healthy new vibrissae. Like bird feathers, a periodic loss here and there won’t have any significant impact on activity and functionality. Your cat will notice the difference because of a decline in sensitivity, but they can still go about their day without any risk.
The loss of patches of whiskers is a bigger problem. This can cause a much bigger imbalance and more distress. There may also be another medical issue to deal with. If you notice your cat losing whiskers more frequently than normal, watch out for the following.
- Allergic reactions to parasites or environmental conditions
- Physical trauma from fights with other cats or injuries
- Mental trauma from stressful situations or ongoing anxiety
How long does it take for cat whiskers to grow back?
Your cat’s whiskers aren’t going to grow back overnight. Typically this takes around 2 to 3 months. This is quite quick compared to human hair, but it is still a long time for cats to be without a full set of whiskers. This is another reason why it is so important that we let them fall out naturally on their own. Also, be aware that this process can take a little longer if your cat is unwell or older.
If you have any concerns about your cat’s whiskers during this time, you can always get further advice from your vet. They will be able to determine any underlying causes for excessive natural whisker loss or for slower periods of regrowth.
In short, your cat’s whiskers are an amazing part of their anatomy and far more than just facial hair. These sensitive tools play a big part in self-expression and their loss could have a negative effect on their navigation and feelings of security. Cats will lose these whiskers naturally and will regrow any that are accidentally plucked. But, that doesn’t give owners the right to remove them.
My name is Katie, and I have had different pets at home for as long as I can remember. While I can definitely say I love all animals in general, my heart belongs to cats and dogs. I know you are supposed to choose one or the other, but I could never really decide. I’ve also owned hamsters and fish when I was a kid, and they filled my childhood with very delightful memories.