Can a kitten lose its whiskers?

5 May, 2007

I met a kitten at the recent TICA Easter Purrade cat show.  It looked as though its whiskers had been snipped by a pair of scissors and they stuck out like paint brush bristles.

The judge was tickled pink.  The kitten was real cute, with huge eyes.  The fact that its whiskers had been shortened was no penalty in the judge’s eyes.

I’m not sure how a kitten would lose part of its whiskers.  I’ve heard from breeders that some mother cats can be overzealous in grooming kittens, often biting off the whiskers close to the base, at the muzzle.  Now, why should this be?

A cat’s whiskers are attached to nerves in the muzzle, and are very sensitive, like antennae.  A cat uses its whiskers to feel its way around its surroundings.  When a cat walks, it moves its head around to sense what’s around.  A cat comes to rely on its whiskers like a sixth sense, to walk the world confidently.

So, it could be that mother cats shorten their kittens’ whiskers in order to curtail their wandering.  That’s the theory, anyway.

However, cats do lose their whiskers in the normal course of living as well.  The occasional whisker falls out, like fur.  And kittens, being active and always up to mischief, are more prone to breaking their whiskers.  There should be no cause for concern, unless it keeps happening over a long period of time.  Another thing is that not all breeds of cats have long, lustrous whiskers.  Some cats grow long whiskers, only to have them break off.


One comment

  1. I have a cat, Jynx. She is a common cat, and the love of my life. But in the last 3 months I have noticed all her whiskers and bitten off about 1/2 way. I do have 2 cats, Gigi and Jynx and the play fight all the time. Jynx is bored and wants to play. But why is she eating her whskers? I have seen her do it a few times. She doesn’t let them get too long. They stay at about 2 1/2 inches. It has me a little worried, If you can help I would apprecitate it. Thanks Tess

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