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Many adult cat owners frenetically type on the Internet on whether their cat must need whiskers to survive. This query is necessitated by the fact of their children snipping off hair and whiskers of the house cat. Most queries ask the vital question of whether snipping one or multiple whiskers off will result in permanent damage or the wound will only be a temporary one.
More than hair
A whisker is much more than a strand of hair. It has many more functions than hair. The scientific name of whisker is “vibrissae.” The roots of a whisker penetrate much deeper into the body of the kitty than the fur which covers its body. Such vibrissae have a direct connection to the muscles and the central nervous system.
Whiskers are an essential part of the cat. They are imperative to guide the kitty to understand their surroundings and navigate to where they want to go. The principal whisker function is to help the kitty’s vision, especially in low light or darkness. The whiskers act as tactile receptors. They send messages to the central nervous system and the brain.
It is to be noted that the whisker, although classified as tactile hair, actually does not sense or feel by itself. It does what it evolved to do is vibrate when any object touches it. The vibration stimulates nerve endings in the hair follicle. This, in turn, transmits the message to the correct part of the cat’s brain for processing. The whisker functions are similar to an antenna. This provides the cat a better sense of its surroundings. It follows that the whisker should not be cut or snipped off under any condition. Do not do so or allow anyone to do the same.
Do not be tempted to cut your cat’s whiskers. The temptation is the word here as the vibrissae could be extremely unruly. It is not suitable for the cat. The whiskers will grow back as the vital ingredient of any whisker is keratin. The material regenerates itself like as in hair. The problem is when you cut off a cat’s whisker; you also impair the animal’s navigational abilities. It gets thrown off balance when there are no whiskers present.
It is good to know that every cat sheds its whiskers at least twice in its life. As an owner, do not panic if you suddenly see your cat without its customary whiskers. Take the cat to the veterinarian only if the cat suddenly has the minimal number of vibrissae. The loss of multiple whiskers implies mineral or vitamin deficiency. Do observe if the whiskers of your cat have split ends or are broken. If yes, then take it to your veterinarian as quickly as possible.