Cats are known for their sharp senses, which they use to help them navigate their environment and hunt for prey. One of the most important tools in a cat’s arsenal is its whiskers.
Also known as vibrissae, whiskers are long, thick hairs that grow on the cat’s muzzle, eyebrows, and chin.
While whiskers may seem like just another hair, they actually serve a very important purpose. Whiskers are incredibly sensitive and can help a cat gauge the size of an opening, detect movement, and identify objects in the dark.
Unfortunately, whiskers are also delicate and can easily break. If you’ve ever wondered why your cat’s whiskers keep breaking off, read on for some possible explanations.
Is It Normal For A Cat’s Whisker To Come Off?
While it may seem alarming, it is actually quite normal for a cat to lose a whisker from time to time. In fact, cats shed all of their whiskers regularly and grow new ones to take their place.
Much like how we humans lose some strands of our hair every day, even cats tend to shed their fur and whiskers on a daily and weekly basis. It is usually no cause for concern and you don’t need any intervention by the vet for this.
In fact, it is also healthy for your cat to shed its whiskers and fur regularly in controlled amounts.
Most cats will lose one or two whiskers every day, and while this may not seem like a lot, it can add up over time.
If you notice that your cat is losing an abnormal amount of whiskers, however, it could be a sign of a health problem and you should take them to the vet.
As long as there are no other symptoms of any underlying infection or allergy, a controlled amount of loss of whiskers in cats is perfectly normal.
Also, check out: Do Cats’ Whiskers Grow Back If They Are Burned?
How Often Do Cats’ Whiskers Fall Out?
As we mentioned, all cats shed their whiskers regularly, but the rate at which they do so can vary depending on the individual cat. Some cats may lose a few whiskers each day, while others may only shed them every week or so.
The length of a cat’s whiskers also plays a role in how often they fall out. Longer whiskers are more likely to shed than shorter ones, so if your cat has recently had a trim, you may notice an increase in the number of shed whiskers.
Interesting Read: Why Are My Cat’s Whiskers So Short?
When it happens on a daily basis, a cat is likely to shed 3 to 4 whiskers a day – that is completely normal. The whiskers regrow in a timely manner and your cat does not experience any discomfort either during or after the natural shedding of whiskers.
The cat can still continue to go on about its day normally, with no trouble in navigating or sensing the surroundings.
What Causes A Cat’s Whiskers To Break Off?
Here are 7 common reasons why your cat or kitten may keep breaking its whiskers off so often:
Reason 1 – Your Pet Feline Is A Rough Houser
Although whiskers are significantly thicker than typical cat hair, an owner shouldn’t take them for granted.
A cat’s whiskers might become damaged and fall out if he or she is jostled around or plays with his or her siblings too rough.
Reason 2 – Your Cat May Be Experiencing An Imbalance In Hormones
A cat may have a variety of negative side effects, including a shifting appetite, unexpected weight loss or growth, and, yes, hair loss if the hormone balance in their body is out of whack.
The right course of treatment for your cat’s hormonal problem might be recommended by a veterinarian.
Reason 3 – Your Cat May Not Be Getting The Right Amount Or Kind Of Nutrition
A cat with poor nutrition may lose its whiskers. It is important to distinguish between starvation and malnutrition since an undernourished cat (one who doesn’t receive enough food) will always be a malnourished cat (one that lacks the proper vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients).
However, a malnourished cat may not necessarily be starving. Therefore, even though your cat may appear to be eating plenty, he may not be. Malnutrition is also indicated by dry skin and white gums.
Reason 4 – Your Cat Has The Genetic Makeup For Weak Whiskers
In particular, the rex gene causes some cat breeds to be born with naturally thin whiskers. Short, curled hair and sparse whiskers are the effects of the rex gene. A greater frequency of whisker loss occurs in kittens with the rex gene than in those without.
Interesting Read: Can A Cat Live Without Whiskers?
Reason 5 – Your Cat May Be Itchy Around The Whiskers
Some cats may scratch themselves vehemently, losing skin, hair, and whiskers as they go, especially in sensitive spots on their bodies. If the muzzle of your cat is itchy, he will scratch until the whiskers are also removed.
A parasite illness or an allergy to anything nearby might have triggered the itching. If you think your cat has allergies or parasites, it is imperative that you take him to the doctor.
Reason 6 – Your Cat May Have Fungal Infection
Hair loss may occur in afflicted regions as a result of fungus infections. Oftentimes, infections show up as red bald spots. Take your cat to the doctor to be examined if you think a fungal infection is the cause of the loss of his whiskers.
Reason 7 – Your Cat May Be Experiencing Allergic Reactions
If you have made some new changes to the products you use on your cat, such as shampoo, coat spray, etc., then there is a chance that your cat may be losing hair and whiskers due to allergies. The same may happen if you make new changes to the diet of your cat.
To avoid any such allergic reactions to your pets, it is advisable that when you bring in a new product or food for your cats, always take the advice of your vet.
Interesting Read: What Does The Position Of Your Cat’s Whiskers Mean?
Does A Broken Whisker Hurt A Cat?
A broken whisker doesn’t usually cause a cat any pain, but it can be uncomfortable for them. Because they use their whiskers to help them navigate their environment, a broken whisker can make it difficult for them to get around without bumping into things.
In addition, cats rely on their whiskers for hunting. A broken whisker can interfere with a cat’s ability to accurately judge the distance of its prey, making it more difficult for them to catch food.
However, this discomfort and trouble only occur when a cat loses a whole lot of whiskers due to breakage in one go.
A cat normally has around 24 whiskers – twelve on each side of its face. So, simply breaking one odd whisker will not be causing much harm or discomfort to the cat.
An important thing to note here is that the breaking of a whisker is painless only as long as the follicle remains untouched. The follicle has a lot of nerve endings, so if the whiskers of a cat are pulled from the follicle and broken, then that can cause immense pain to cats.
Interesting Read: Why Is My Senior Cat Losing Its Whiskers?
What Do You Do If Your Cat’s Whiskers Break?
If your cat’s whisker breaks, there is no need to panic. Simply trim the broken end off so that it is even with the rest of the whisker and dispose of it properly.
If your cat seems uncomfortable or is having difficulty getting around, you can try placing some tape or gauze over the broken end of the whisker until it grows back.
If your cat seems to have lost a bulk of its whiskers, it is advisable that you keep your cat indoors until the new whiskers grow back.
This is because, with a lot of whiskers gone, your cat will become more prone to accidents and disorientation. So, being outdoors will put your cat at risk of grave injuries and fatal accidents.
Also, check out What To Do With Cat Whiskers?
Do Broken Cat Whiskers Grow Back?
Yes, broken cat whiskers do grow back eventually. However, it can take several weeks for them to reach their full length again. In the meantime, your cat may have to rely on their other senses to get by.
At least until the whiskers grow back long enough for your cat to start moving around without being disoriented, it will be advisable to keep your cat indoors.
Wait for the whiskers to grow back naturally before letting your cat go on its quests in the great outdoors.
Interesting Read: What Happens If You Cut/Trim A Cat’s Whiskers?
Frequently Asked Questions
Do cats’ whiskers fall out when stressed?
Yes. It is quite possible for the whiskers of a cat to fall out due to stress. Stress can be caused by moving to a new home or adopting a new pet, such as a dog or another cat. They may occasionally lose their hair as a result of this.
Do cats have nerves in their whiskers?
No, cats do not have nerves in the whiskers. But whiskers still make up the sensory mechanism of cats, and that happens because of the hair follicles of the whiskers. Your cat’s whiskers have nerves packed into each hair follicle, and the proprioceptor sensory organ is located at the tip of each whisker. Cats utilize them as an extra sense to comprehend the world since they are both extremely sensitive to vibrations and changes in their environment.
A cat’s whiskers act as its guiding force in perceiving its surroundings and making sense of the world around it. While a little bit of shedding every now and then is the sign of a healthy cat, if a cat loses whiskers excessively, it can be a cause for concern.
One to four whiskers are typically lost every day by cats. However, if a cat is stressed out or has a medical issue, it may lose more weight. It’s crucial to make an appointment with your veterinarian if you observe that your cat is losing a disproportionate number of whiskers.
Interesting Read: Why Are My Cat’s Whiskers So Long?