No two cats’ whiskers are exactly the same.
Some are longer than others, some curl at the ends, some fall out more often than others, and so on.
If you’ve noticed your cat’s whiskers look shorter than other cats, you’re right to question – why are my cat’s whiskers so short?
In this article, I’m going to answer that question for you!
Why Are My Cats Whiskers So Short?
There are a number of reasons why your cat’s whiskers are shorter than average, these are:
1. Excessive Grooming While a Kitten
When kittens are first born, they have very short whiskers.
As they grow older and begin to groom themselves more, their whiskers will grow longer.
However, if a kitten grooms itself excessively or is over groomed by its littermates, their whiskers can become damaged and cause them to stunt growth.
Short whiskers can also be related to stress or trauma kittens experience.
The only kitten I took in from a shelter that had a traumatic first few months of its life had short whiskers.
No one could ever give me an exact reason why her whiskers were so short, other than citing her stressful kittenhood, so that’s where I got this point from.
2. Health Issue/Infection
If your cat’s whiskers are shorter than usual and they’re also experiencing other symptoms such as lethargy, a loss of appetite, or vomiting, it’s possible they have an underlying health issue or infection.
If you suspect your cat is unwell, take them to the vet as soon as possible.
A cats’ whiskers play a vital role in how they sense and interact with their surroundings.
If a cat is not used to having short whiskers, you might notice them struggling to judge distance, balance, and having some other issues.
3. They Have Weak Whiskers that Break Easily
There are some cats that simply have weak whiskers that are prone to breaking.
If you find your cat’s whiskers always seem to be shorter than other cats, it could be due to them constantly breaking and not growing back as quickly.
While there is no known treatment for this, it’s nothing to worry about too much as long as your cat is otherwise healthy.
Related – More on how cats break their whiskers.
4. Naturally Short Whiskers
Some cats simply have shorter whiskers than others.
Just like people, every cat is different and there is no set “normal” length for whiskers.
If you’ve noticed your cat’s whiskers are shorter than other cats but they’re otherwise healthy and have no other symptoms, there’s no need to worry!
While we don’t know exactly why some cats have shorter whiskers than others, it’s nothing to be concerned about.
If a cat has naturally short whiskers, I’m sure they’ve learned to navigate their surroundings just fine using the whiskers they have.
Should You Trim Broken Whiskers?
If you find that your cat’s whiskers are always breaking, you might be wondering if you should trim them to help keep them more even.
While there is no definitive answer to this, I would recommend against trimming broken whiskers.
Whiskers are made of a protein called keratin, the same protein as our hair and nails are made from.
They do not contain any nerves or pain sensors, so clipping the actual whisker is not painful, although it can cause pain as the vibration goes through the follicle.
If you trim your cat’s whiskers, it could also interfere with your cat’s ability to sense things around them and could be quite painful.
There is also the risk of infection if you trim your cat’s whiskers, as the hair follicle is an opening in their skin.
While there are some risks associated with trimming whiskers, if you do decide to trim them, make sure you use clean, sharp scissors and only trim the very tip of the whisker.
What Is Whisker Fatigue?
You may have heard of the term ‘whisker fatigue’. This condition can often cause whiskers to break and leave cats with short whiskers.
Whisker fatigue is a condition that can affect cats with long or sensitive whiskers.
If your cat’s whiskers are constantly being touched, bent, or otherwise stimulated, they can become tired and sore.
This can lead to your cat becoming irritable and may even cause them to stop using their whiskers altogether.
If you think your cat may be experiencing whisker fatigue, try to give them a break from anything that’s irritating their whiskers and see if they improve.
Cats use their whiskers for a variety of purposes, the most important of which is navigation.
Whiskers act as sensors, helping cats judge distances and navigate their way around objects in the dark.
Cats also use their whiskers to communicate with other cats.
For example, a cat that is feeling threatened may flatten its whiskers against its face to make itself appear larger.
A relaxed cat, on the other hand, will have its whiskers pointing outwards.
If you notice your cat’s whiskers pointing inwards or flattened against their face, it may be an indication that they’re feeling stressed or threatened.
There are a variety of reasons why a cat’s whiskers may be shorter than average as I covered in this post.
If you’re concerned about your cat’s short whiskers, the best thing to do is to take them to the vet for a check-up.
Otherwise, there’s no need to worry as long as your cat is otherwise healthy and happy!
Image credits – Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash