If you’ve ever wondered why your cat’s whiskers are so long, you’re in the right place. Are you supposed to trim them? Let’s take a look at what whiskers are for, and what would happen if you were to cut them off. These common questions can have some surprising answers!
The answer is no, you must never trim your cat’s whiskers. Since they can grow very long, you could be forgiven for thinking that they should be trimmed regularly, like their claws are. However, whiskers should never be cut because your cat needs them to be safe and confident when moving around. Cats rely on their whiskers because they help them move safely and judge distance and space.
What do cat whiskers do?
Whiskers serve the purpose of a sensory organ alongside the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue. The follicles from which the whiskers grow are surrounded by lots of nerve endings. These are so sensitive that they pick up even the slightest vibration, and their job is to send these messages to the brain to inform your cat about its surroundings.
By using their whiskers, cats can determine how far away an object is, as well as its texture and relative size. They also use their whiskers to quickly decide whether they fit through a small gap! Whiskers are also a means of expressing their emotions. If your cat is feeling contented, their whiskers will be relaxed, whereas if they are feeling anxious or threatened their whiskers will become more rigid, standing on end.
Why do cats need whiskers?
For their perception to be correct, the whiskers need to be their natural length. If you trim their whiskers, they may become distressed and disorientated by their sudden change in perception.
Since a cat’s short-distance vision isn’t very good, whiskers also help to protect them by alerting them to anything that is approaching their face, especially around the eyes. They also help your cat with hunting, running, jumping, and moving quickly and safely at night when visibility is very limited. Since whiskers allow cats to judge the distance and speed of moving objects, it is important that they remain intact.
Why are my cat’s whiskers so long?
Cat’s whiskers grow to a length similar to and in proportion to the width of their body. They can use the length of their whiskers to judge whether their body fits through small or narrow gaps so that they don’t get stuck! Their whiskers also have to be long to be able to feedback sensory information about their surroundings and act as a second pair of eyes when visibility is poor.
Here’s why you should never trim them
If you cut your cat’s whiskers, they may seem fearful, disorientated, or less confident moving around because they will be less aware of their surroundings. They may be a bit clumsier and may even get stuck when trying to get through tiny gaps that are too small for them. Whiskers don’t grow continuously, so your cat will be stuck with short whiskers – and the side effects – until the old one falls out and the new one grows back in.
Can they grow back?
If you notice your cat has lost a whisker, or you find one on the floor that has fallen out, you might be concerned. After all, do cat whiskers grow back? Well, thankfully they do so you don’t need to worry too much if you notice one or two are missing!
Additional reading: This is why your cat is losing whiskers on one side
Conclusion: cutting cat whiskers is a big no-no
Cats’ whiskers aren’t just for looking pretty! They’re actually a very clever method of keeping your cat safe during their active lifestyle of running, jumping, hunting, and playing! Never cut your cat’s whiskers – they need them as nature intended!