In honor of adopt a cat month, did you know that cats lose and regrow their whiskers?
I am currently an intern with Animal Care Sanctuary and fostering a kitten who is about eight weeks old. Today, I noticed that her whiskers looked like they had been cut. I asked the other interns I live with if anyone knew what happened to her whiskers and everyone was puzzled as to what happened to them. I went through some possible reasons asking did someone cut her whiskers? Does anyone think she cut them off on something? Could she have somehow chewed them off? After the other interns responded “no” to each of the questions and a little research I discovered that cats will continuously lose and regrow their whiskers throughout their life. On top of that cats have been known to chew off other cat’s whiskers.
In my research, I found that this question came up often on cat-related forms. Many I encountered had responses of people accusing others of cutting the cat’s whiskers or the cat cutting them off while playing. While in some cases these could have been reasons, the most likely cause was that the cat simply shed its whiskers. Much like how people will lose and regrow their hair, cats will do the same with their whiskers.
One topic I found was the possibility of another cat chewing off a cat’s whiskers. After doing some digging, cats have been discovered chewing off other’s whiskers. One website suggested that mother cats have been known to chew off kittens’ whiskers when they are young and nursing to make more room. As the kittens are weaned off this behavior should subside.
Another article was about littermates chewing off another kitten’s whiskers. Kittens will naturally groom each other, but in some cases, this could become excessive. This is common for kittens who were weaned too young or under a lot of stress. This excessive grooming sometimes leads to a kitten chewing off another’s whiskers. Normally a kitten will outgrow this behavior, but if not, the kitten might need an alternative oral stimulation and mental stimulation. Some of these include food puzzles, hiding treats, or simply playing with cat toys. On top of these stimulations, reducing stress could also aid in reducing the chewing behavior.
My foster kitten is by herself, so I knew that it was not possible for her mother or a littermate to chew them off and there is nothing she could have cut her whiskers off on. I have come to the conclusion that her whiskers simply fell off and are growing back.
I am thankful for the opportunity to foster because it has given me opportunities like this to learn something new about cats. I have grown up with a cat, but each one offers a new experience and opportunity to learn new things. Getting to foster multiple animals allows for many opportunities for this.
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