Whisker Loss in Cats: Is it Normal for My Cat to Shed its Whiskers?
A cat has whiskers for several significant reasons, as they serve a variety of purposes. Your cat’s whiskers are an excellent tool for navigating their environment, and it allows them to “see” in the dark. So, is it normal for cats to shed their whiskers?
It is normal for your feline to shed their whiskers unless they lose multiple whiskers in a short time. Just like their fur, cats will shed their whiskers. An individual whisker will fall out every couple of months, and each whisker will be in a different stage of the shedding cycle at any point in time.
There are many potential reasons why your cat’s whiskers are falling out. Peruse this article if you want to learn more about whisker loss in cats and if it is normal for them to shed their whiskers.
How Are Feline Whiskers Made?
Whiskers are made of a similar material as your hair and nails. However, they are much thicker, coarser, and more rigid than regular hair or fur. Whiskers are made from a protein called keratin. These whiskers are strategically rooted in your cat’s adorable little cheeks, formally called “whisker pads,” which is the area between their mouth and nose.
Most cats have 24 whiskers. Twelve whiskers on each cheek are typically arranged in four purrfect parallel rows of three. However, some cats may have more, but the number is always even. The exact location of the whiskers can differ depending on the breed. Your cat’s whiskers are both highly functional and extremely sensitive to the touch.
Is it Normal for My Cat to Shed Their Whiskers?
There are several times when your feline will drop their whiskers. It is an expected and natural occurrence for cats, just like them shedding their fur. Cats typically only shed one or two whiskers at a time, which is why it is not usually apparent that there is any change in their appearance.
Why Is My Cat Shedding Whiskers Excessively?
Sometimes, cats will shed more of their whiskers than what is normal. If that is the case, there may be a cause for concern. Just know that it takes anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks for a whisker to grow back. The following include some of the reasons why your feline companion may shed their whiskers:
Your cat may be experiencing an allergic response if they are shedding multiple whiskers. It could be a food or environmental allergy they are responding to. Grass, pollen, or mold can be irritating to them and trigger whisker loss. Some of the symptoms your cat has an allergy include:
- Red or dry skin
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Excessive grooming
If your cat develops a cold during certain times of the year, seasonal allergies may be to blame. Your feline may also have a flea sensitivity that is causing them irritation. Believe it or not, cats, just like dogs, can get fleas. Cats also often demonstrate an allergic reaction through skin inflammation or dermatological issues.
Bacterial or Fungal Infection
Bacterial and fungal reactions can trigger hair loss in your cat. If your feline companion gets an infection in an area near their whiskers, it can cause their whiskers to fall out. If your cat’s skin is cut or injured, it can cause a skin infection. Some of the indications of skin infection are:
- Crusted skin
- Small, raised lesions
- Dried discharge in an infected area
The infection can occur on the epidermis layer of the skin, which means that your cat’s skin is not protected and is more susceptible to whisker loss. There may also be a deep skin wound in the inner folds of the skin that becomes infected.
Suppose there have been considerable changes in your living environment, such as a move to a new home or another pet or family member passing on. In that case, it can cause extreme stress, leading to some whiskers coming out of your fur baby’s cheeks. Some other symptoms of stress in cats include:
- Hiding more than usual
- Urinating outside the litterbox
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Excessive vocalization
- Excessive scratching
- Lack of appetite
If your cat is stressed out, you may also notice them being aggressive toward other furry family members or people. You can help your cat de-stress by providing them with a predictable routine, such as regular playtime and cuddle time with them on the couch.
If your cat and another member in your household of the feline persuasion tend to scrap often, whiskers may be lost during a fight or when they are involved in rough play. It is especially the case if your cat is allowed outside and they have a run-in with another cat.
Another possibility is if your cat rubs themselves against trees or other objects that have a sharp edge, their whiskers may come out. The best way to prevent your sweet cat from experiencing physical trauma is to ensure they stay indoors, and you should also break up play between cats if it becomes aggressive.
Just like humans, cats can get acne. The most common area for an outbreak is your cat’s chin. If the acne is especially concerning, it may occur close to your cat’s whiskers, which can precipitate whisker loss. Some of the triggers of feline acne consist of the following:
- Hyperactive sebaceous glands
- Viral, fungal, or bacterial infection
- Eating or drinking from plastic containers
- Suppressed immune system
- Hormonal imbalance
- Poor hygiene
The best way to prevent feline acne is to utilize stainless steel, glass, or ceramic bowls for food and water. Bowls made of plastic create acne on your cat’s face because the bacteria and dirt within the cracks and scratches of the plastic food and water bowls will sully your cat’s skin and contribute to whisker loss.
What Purpose Do Cat Whiskers Serve?
Your cat’s whiskers are more than just an attractive feature of their face. They help pilot them all through their daily lives. Whether it is the ability to see at night to hunt or balance their bodies, whiskers serve many important purposes for a cat.
Navigation Through Their Environment
Your cat may need to get through a narrow space in your house, like between the wall and a piece of furniture. They use their whiskers to gauge the best way to fit through it without getting stuck or having an accident.
Your cat’s whiskers are quite sensitive. When they brush up against an object, they can detect its exact location, size, and texture. It is a handy tool to have in the dark, as their whiskers give them valuable information.
Performing a Balancing Act
There is a saying that cats always land on their feet! Their whiskers help them perform a balancing act. Your cat’s body is able to sense movement, action, and location with a function called proprioception. They have unique sensory organs situated at the end of their whiskers.
Expression of Emotion
Your favorite feline’s whiskers are essential in reading their emotions. If your cat’s whiskers are flat against their face, they may feel threatened. If your cat’s whiskers are forward, they are calm, stress-free, and happy.
It is normal for your feline to shed their whiskers unless they lose multiple whiskers at once. A cat’s whiskers can help them with everything from fitting through a tight space to landing on their feet. There are many explanations why your cat may shed their whiskers, and it is essential to know if it is due to a medical issue, so you may be able to help.