Cats’ whiskers play an important role in their day-to-day lives, but they do bend or break on occasion.
It’s important to be aware of if or how your cat is breaking their whiskers, as well as the symptoms broken whiskers can cause.
This puts you in the best place to help provide an excellent level of care, and more importantly, be aware if your cat is struggling with anything.
Broken Cat Whiskers: Symptoms to Be Aware Of
If you’ve noticed your cat has broken one or more of their whiskers, don’t be alarmed.
Cats’ shed their whiskers, they split, get bent out of shape, break – but they do grow back unless there is some underlying issue.
While a cat is missing whiskers, however, they may experience some problems. The most common symptoms are:
Cats use their whiskers to help them judge distance and ‘feel’ changes in the air and their environments.
Although, I think we all know of cats that have still managed to get themselves stuck in a tight spot!
This is because whiskers are connected to the muscular and nervous systems. They’re extremely sensitive and fine-tuned and send messages to a cat’s brain.
When a cat has even just one whisker broken, their movement is compromised a little. It affects some cats more than others, but can always explain a cat being disorientated.
There are a number of things that can cause a cat stress, and it’s often hard to know exactly what the cause is and whether or not a cat is actually stressed.
Broken whiskers can be one cause. Not necessarily the fact that a whisker is broken, but more so how it became broken.
If your cat was involved in a traumatic event, this can easily cause stress. As can the fact that their broken whisker is making them feel disorientated.
Signs to look out for that your cat is stressed are:
- Being withdrawn and not wanting to play
- Eating or drinking less
- Scratching your furniture or being destructive
- Being aggressive towards you or other people and animals
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Pawing at Their Face
If your cat is continually pawing at their own face or looks like they’re overgrooming, you should check for injuries where they’re pawing at.
Depending on how your cat broke their whisker, it could be uncomfortable or painful for them.
Whiskers are very similar to our hairs, in the way that they don’t have pain-feeling nerves in them.
It’s not painful to trim a cat’s whiskers, for example. What can be painful, however, is if a cat got a whisker caught in something and pulled on.
This can cause pain at the root of the whisker, much like when we pluck a hair out – but keep in mind that whiskers are much thicker hairs.
Can Cats Recover From Damaged Whiskers?
Cats can recover from damaged whiskers and more often than not will be perfectly fine.
Whether broken or completely fallen out, whiskers do grow back. It can take up to a couple of months for long whiskers to fully grow back, but unless the follicle is damaged they will grow back.
There’s nothing you can do in the meantime. You’ll simply have to keep an eye on your cat, make sure their broken whiskers are not causing them too much distress, and wait.
Do Bent Whiskers Hurt Cats?
Bent whiskers do not hurt cats. Their whiskers do not have nerves that send pain signals to their brains, so they will not experience pain if a whisker bends.
A cat will, however, feel pain if they’re involved in a painful incident that caused their whisker to bend.
It’s also possible that their bent whisker is causing them problems by rubbing against things or even getting caught on stuff.
If it appears that this is the case, it may be in your cat’s best interests to trim the whisker so it can grow back and be normally positioned.
Should I Cut My Cat’s Broken Whisker?
In most cases, when a cat has a broken or bent whisker it should break off on its own.
I’ve seen my cats with more broken whiskers than I can remember over the years, and I’ve never had to step in and help them out.
This doesn’t mean that it can’t happen though. If your cat has a broken whisker that is obviously causing them some issues, you may need to trim or cut it.
If this makes you nervous, you could take them to a vet. Or at the very least call a vet and see what they advise you over the phone.
There is a lot more to a cat’s whiskers, known as vibrissae, than just being thick hairs sticking out from the sides of their faces.
These hard hairs, which are made from a protein called keratin which is what our nails and hair are made of, act as an important extra sensory tool.
When a cat has all of its whiskers intact, they’re much better at judging difference, hunting, maneuvering, and sensing what’s around them in their environment.
You know the symptoms of broken whiskers, and how it can affect cats having broken, damaged, or missing whiskers.
Image credits – Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash