What are cat whiskers used for?
The whiskers of a cat that we also call vibrissae are just magnificent but it’s a safe bet that you did not know all their functions in his universe.
They are vital for his balance and movement, for gauging prey, for protection from predators, for his emotions too.
It is therefore essential to preserve and care for them for the comfort of your cat.
So here is the best things to do when your cat loses his whiskers and therefore his hair.
The anatomy of whiskers
The whiskers are tactile hairs but very thick and very long hairs, often 3 times longer than those of the fur, very deeply anchored, ensuring a connection to the muscular and nervous systems.
They are blood-fed and have a nerve ending at the root that sends a lot of information to the brain.
You might not know that those whiskers aren’t just on the muzzle.
They are also found above the eyes, chin, cheeks, behind the legs.
The most important, however, are the prominent whiskers all around the muzzle.
At their end, there is a special organ called proprioceptor which allows him to collect all the information about his environment, detect drafts, adapt his displacement, etc
The cat’s whiskers are formed by exactly 24 hairs.
The longest ever listed measured 19cm (7,5 inches).
Why does the cat have whiskers?
Most primates and many mammals have whiskers.
Why are some prominent depending on the species?
It is known that this physical detail is mainly related to their nightlife during which they have to move in the dark in order to be able to hunt.
When it comes to the cat, everything has to do with the way he stalks his prey.
He hunts at dusk or dawn and his vision is not adapted to this darkness.
If his hearing and flair are developed, his sight is excellent in far vision while his near vision is very poor (presbyopia).
In fact, he can hardly see any object within 30 centimeters of him.
In this situation, the whiskers take over and allow him to detect air movement and thus locate his prey.
In fact, the sensors in his mustaches are responsible for 40% of his brain function, hence their critical importance.
Whiskers in the life of a cat
They are the source of their unmatched balance.
They allow them to judge distances even more than their eyes or their hearing.
These whiskers are often as wide as the body in order to guide him when venturing into narrow areas and sometimes invite not to move forward more.
They are a real radar allowing him not to make mistakes, not to get hurt, not to get lost.
You will surely notice that your cat blinks when you brush his whiskers. Their role is also to protect them.
These sensitive hairs can also communicate the moods of the cat to us.
- When fully relaxed, they stay on the side in a natural way.
- If they point forward, this is a sign of attention. The cat is playing or hunting.
- If they go backwards just like the ears and the eyes are somewhat dilated, he shows fear.
Of course, to assess the real mood of a cat, you should not stop at the whiskers but note the look, the ears, tail, body position, etc…
How to take care of whiskers
When we know the well-defined role of these hairs, it is obvious that ensuring their comfort, especially when feeding is important.
Choosing a suitable dish for him that does not interfere with his perception of distances is crucial.
Be careful not to use a bowl that is too narrow, prefer a flat and wide container.
Knowing the major role of these mustaches, real emotional and environmental receptors, do not cut these prominent hairs.
You risk confusing him and affecting his balance.
This mustache allows him to understand the world and integrate into it without difficulty. Without it, he will be disabled.
Be careful when touching his whiskers.
Don’t pet them the wrong way, don’t mess with them, don’t pull them.
Every hair has nerve endings, don’t forget that.
My cat is losing his whiskers
Worried, you notice that your cat has a tendency to lose the hair on his whiskers?
There is nothing wrong with the loss of a few hairs.
In fact, just like hair, it goes through a hair cycle and is replaced regularly.
On the other hand, if you notice significant hair loss, it is possible that your cat suffers from infection, allergy, or skin disease.
He can also lose them due to an injury during his nocturnal walks that you will have to locate.
He can also suffer from acne, yes you read that right, acne.
In any case, it is best to consult a veterinarian if you notice your cat is losing whiskers on one side or both.
Hair loss in cats
It is difficult to identify the cause of hair loss or cat alopecia.
The most effective thing is to pay attention to the diet first.
Give him high-quality, animal, and digestible protein.
Avoid dehydrated kibble which contains too many carbohydrates. Choose canned or homemade foods.
Likewise, make sure your cat is adequately hydrated.
Running out of water leads to drier skin, less energy, and slower follicular turnover leading to hair loss.
Make sure that fresh water is always available, create a water fountain, and above all, as mentioned previously, favor canned foods that generally contain 80% water when the kibbles contain only 5%.
Hair loss is also the normal hair renewal of the fur.
But severe loss should require specific care in addition to dietary changes.
Use a special brush named Furminator (#ad) with fine teeth that remove dead hair.
Brush him once a day, this will allow you to significantly reduce the hair you find all over your house.
It is also crucial to increase the intake of essential fatty acids in cases of alopecia.
Add an omega 3 supplement to preserve your skin.
Fish oil (#ad) is very popular with cats, it will be easier for you to add it to their diet.
In the event of significant loss of the coat, it is important to give him consistent doses ranging from 500 to 1000mg per day.
If your cat has too dry skin, he may have an allergy.
The hydration of his skin must be continuous.
There are moisturizing sprays that can be interesting like this one (#ad).
You can also make some kind of moisturizing lotion by following this recipe:
- a cup of water
- 5ml peppermint hydrosol (#ad) (do not use essential oil)
- 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel (#ad)
You just need to apply it gently on his coat using a cotton cloth once a day to help him overcome his allergy.
Why is my cat losing his whiskers?
The cat’s whiskers are essential in his existence.
Their major role in his balance, orientation, and perception must be respected for his life to be comfortable.
It can happen that it loses a few hairs here and there without particular gravity.
He may also suffer from general hair loss which also affects his mustache.
You must be attentive to his skin problems due to a lack of protein, a possible allergy, or disease disturbing the hair follicles.
A few changes in diet, essential acid intake, grooming, and moisturizing can help him overcome this problem quickly and give him back a flaming fur.
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