Is It Safe To Cut Your Cat Whiskers?
Cat whiskers serve a crucial part of the feline anatomy. Care of your pets includes maintenance procedures of the body, their hair, and fur. Although dogs are the recipients of most of the grooming, such as bathing, clipping nails, haircuts, and shaving, cats also require some grooming from time to time. Cats are very low maintenance in the area of grooming, and while you can bathe a cat, most of them don’t need it. Claws can be clipped or tipped to keep kitty from tearing up your furniture, but it is not a necessity. Scratching actually helps shed old and worn outer claws. You may wonder, though, whether you can cut your cat’s whiskers.
The Mystery of the Whisker
Cat Whiskers, also called vibrissae, aren’t just hair; but are a vital part of your cat’s navigation system and function somewhat like human fingertips. Cutting cat whiskers will cause very serious problems and distress for your feline. Whiskers differ from other hair on your cat in several ways. They are thicker and longer with the longest on record measuring 7½ inches. What makes them different from other hair on your cat is the depth that the whisker is embedded into the hair follicle and what lies at the base of those follicles. The hair follicle is surrounded by muscles and highly sensitive nerves which connect to a special area in the brain. It’s an extra sensory organ for cats. So, it is still concern whether you can cut your cat’s whiskers.
See also: Tips for Bathing Your Cat
The Purpose of your Cat’s Whiskers
Cat whiskers serve many functions, one of which is to allow your cat to feel his way in the dark via a specialized sensory organ at the end of the whisker. Cats use their whiskers to judge the size of an opening or space to determine if he will be able to fit into that area. For this reason, it is not advisable to put your cat’s food or water into a too small bowl because he may not use it because of the presumption that he cannot get in. Even though the opening is big enough, if it is small enough to push the whiskers down close to the nose, he will back out.
These critical hairs can detect air flow, thus being able to identify obstacles, helping your cat to steer around and detect movements as they disrupt the flow of air and cause vibrations. This is how they catch prey. The whiskers allow your cat to judge distance and size using the filaments as a visual measuring rod. This is how cats know that they can fit on a narrow ledge without testing. Proper judging allows them to move quickly out of harm’s way.
Do Not Trim Your Cat’s Whiskers
Sometimes individual whiskers will become damaged; they may break off or get damaged in some other way, and they even shed once in a while, but they do grow back. To trim a cat’s whiskers would be extremely traumatic for him. Without his whiskers, your cat would become disoriented, frightened, and may even get lost if he is outside. Whiskers do grow back, but they should never be cut. Cutting a cat’s whiskers is akin to blindfolding you and asking you to find your way around, or spinning you in circles and asking you to walk a straight line. A cat’s whiskers should remain untouched by any cutting instrument. Be kind to your kitty and don’t mess with the whiskers.
Also see: Crazy Facts About Cats
Photo Credit: istockphoto.com
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