The whiskers on a cat are not painful to touch, but pulling them is painful.
More like antennae or “feelers,” the long, dense hairs that flow so smoothly from a cat’s muzzle and above the eyes aren’t just for aesthetics. The cat uses them to balance, move around, and avoid danger.
In this article, we look at what could happen if you touch your cat’s whiskers, and whether it causes them pain or not.
So, read along as we answer questions like does petting a cat’s whiskers hurt it, whether is it okay to touch the whiskers of a cat, and more!
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Is It OK To Touch My Cat’s Whiskers?
Some cats enjoy having their whiskers touched, while others dislike having their whiskers touched. Cats frequently enjoy having their whiskers scratched just behind them.
You shouldn’t be frightened to touch the whiskers or the skin directly behind them as long as you don’t pull in the whiskers or otherwise damage them.
If you have had your pet cat for quite some time now, you may be able to gauge its body language when you touch its whiskers.
If, however, you have just met a cat and haven’t spent much time with it, do not go for the whiskers directly.
Start with the safest form of interaction – allow the cat to sniff your finger, and then slowly start petting around the chin if it lets you.
The best way to know if it’s okay to touch your cat’s whiskers is to observe its body language when you bring your hands near its whiskers.
If your cat shows any signs of discomfort, immediately stop playing with or petting the whiskers of the cat.
Do Cats Like Their Whiskers Rubbed?
Certain cats adore having their whiskers stroked. It is hated by some. This is due to the delicate nature of the whiskers, which cats employ to process and assimilate a greater variety of sensory data. They resemble little, delicate fingertips in a certain sense.
It depends on a couple of things, whether or not a cat will like its whiskers being rubbed:
How comfortable the cat feels around you – if the cat is very comfortable around you, then chances are that the cat will rub its whiskers onto your legs and hands of its own accord to mark you as part of its territory!
How comfortable the cat feels in general regarding its whiskers being touched – every cat has a different personality. This means that one of your pet cats may love having its whiskers touched while the other, no matter how comfortable it may be around you, simply does not want its whiskers or muzzle touched.
Whether you are simply stroking the whiskers or accidentally being rough – cats will absolutely not tolerate any rough stroking on their whiskers. So, whether a cat will like having its whiskers rubbed will also depend on how gently you do that.
What the general mood of the cat is at that time – if the cat is generally in a relaxed mood when you approach it and try to pet its whiskers, it may not mind having its whiskers rubbed. But if the cat is already in alert mode, and then if you try to touch its whiskers, the cat may get aggressive and defensive and try to bite you.
Interesting Read: Cat’s Eyebrow Whiskers: What Are Those Hairs Above Your Cat’s Eyes?
Do Petting Cats’ Whiskers Hurt Them?
No, petting a cat’s whiskers will not generally hurt them. It depends, however, on how gently you pet the cat and whether the cat likes its whiskers being touched in the first place.
Moreover, if the cat has had some injury near the muzzle, naturally, it will not like being touched or petted around the area of the whiskers.
So, mostly a cat will not feel pain when you pet its whiskers, but it is better to be mindful and respect the cat’s personal space and boundaries as well.
The best way to know when to stop petting the cat’s whiskers is to observe its body language.
If you’ve had your cat as a pet for a while, you might be able to read its body language by feeling its whiskers.
However, if you’ve only recently met a cat and haven’t had much interaction with it, hold off from grabbing its whiskers.
Start by letting the cat sniff your finger, then if it lets you, softly begin caressing it around the chin. This is the safest way to engage with cats.
If your cat seems to get uncomfortable, moves its head away, or uses its paws to stop you from touching its whiskers, then you should stop then and there.
This is because sometimes, touching or petting the whiskers of a cat can send a plethora of signals to the nerve endings at the follicles, and this can overstimulate the cat.
Such overstimulation can make the cat feel uncomfortable and can be painful sometimes.
What Does It Mean If A Cat Lets You Touch Its Whiskers?
If a cat lets you touch its whiskers, it means that:
- The cat is very comfortable around you.
- The cat is possessive about you and is glad that it can get its scent over you from the muzzle area of its face. This is a way of your cat cutely marking you as a part of its “territory”.
- The cat is in a relaxed mood and does not mind being petted at the moment.
Interesting Read: What Is Cat Whisker Fatigue Or Stress?
Frequently Asked Questions
Do house cats need whiskers?
Yes, absolutely. All cats need whiskers. Whiskers are an important part of the sensory mechanism that helps a cat perceive its surroundings, make sense of the world around it, and navigate. Indoors or outdoors, all cats need their whiskers to be intact, healthy, and functional at all times.
While other cats find it repulsive, certain cats like having their whiskers stroked. Just behind them, cats frequently want to have their whiskers scratched.
As long as you don’t pull in the whiskers or otherwise harm them, you shouldn’t be afraid to touch a cat’s whiskers or the skin immediately behind the whiskers.
The easiest approach to determine whether it is acceptable to touch your cat’s whiskers is to watch how it reacts when you put your hands close to its whiskers.
Stop playing with or touching your cat’s whiskers right away if it exhibits any signs of pain.
Must Read: Can A Cat Live Without Whiskers?