Why Do Cats Eat Their Whiskers?

Why Do Cats Eat Their Whiskers?

Cats are fascinating creatures with a myriad of intriguing behaviors and traits. Among them, one particular habit may raise eyebrows and invite curiosity – why do cats eat their whiskers? This unusual cat behavior, though not common, can be perplexing for many pet owners. In this article, we will delve into this peculiar phenomenon, exploring the possible reasons and implications behind it, in hopes of providing a better understanding of our feline companions.

Why Do Cats Eat Their Whiskers When They Fall Out

Firstly, it’s important to clarify that it’s not typical for cats to eat their fallen whiskers. In most cases, cats may sniff or paw at a shed whisker out of curiosity, but then move on. However, on the rare occasions that a cat does ingest its own whiskers, it could be attributed to pica – a condition where animals eat non-food items. This could be due to dietary deficiencies, boredom, or even stress. It’s also plausible that cats may inadvertently ingest their whiskers while grooming, as they use their tongue to clean their fur and whiskers. If you notice your cat constantly eating its whiskers, it’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

Why Do Cats Eat Their Whiskers When They Fall Out

Why Do Mother Cats Chew Off Their Kittens Whiskers?

The behavior of mother cats chewing off their kittens’ whiskers is a relatively rare occurrence, but it has been observed. One reason could be the mother cat’s overzealous grooming habits.

It’s normal for mother cats to groom their kittens to keep them clean and to strengthen their bond. However, in some cases, this grooming behavior may result in the accidental nibbling off of the kittens’ whiskers. Another theory posits it as a control mechanism. By snipping the kittens’ whiskers, a mother cat might be trying to hinder their movement and keep them close to the nest, thus ensuring their safety.

Nevertheless, these are just theories, and the behavior is not fully understood. As always, if you notice any unusual behavior in your cats, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian. [1]

What Are Cat Whiskers Made Of?

Cat whiskers, also known as vibrissae, are essentially highly sensitive tactile hairs. They are made of keratin, the same protein that forms human hair and nails. However, unlike regular fur, cat whiskers are embedded more deeply in the feline’s body and are connected to sensitive muscles and nerves. This allows them to function as a sensory tool that enables a cat to navigate their surroundings, even in darkness. Cat whiskers are incredibly sensitive and can detect minute changes in airflow, assisting cats in gauging the width of gaps, the location of objects, and even the general layout of their environment.

What Are Cat Whiskers Made Of?

Reasons Cats May Chew Or Eat Their Whiskers

To summarize, cats may chew or eat their whiskers due to a few possible reasons:

  1. Pica: As mentioned earlier, Pica is a condition where cats feel compelled to eat non-food items. This behavior could be a manifestation of Pica, potentially due to factors like dietary deficiencies, stress, or even boredom.
  2. Grooming: Cats are meticulous groomers. They may accidentally ingest whiskers while grooming themselves as they use their tongues to clean their fur and whiskers.
  3. Motherly Behavior: Mother cats may chew off their kittens’ whiskers as part of an overzealous grooming routine or as a mechanism to control the movement of their young ones.

It’s crucial to remember that these are potential reasons and may not be the definitive cause in every case. If you observe your cat engaging in this behavior frequently, it is recommended to consult with a veterinarian to ensure there are no underlying health issues. [2]

What Causes The Cat Whiskers To Fall Out?

Cat whiskers falling out can be a part of a natural shedding process. Just like humans lose hair, cats too shed their whiskers occasionally as new ones grow. This is a perfectly normal part of a cat’s life. However, if you notice your cat losing whiskers at an alarming rate, it can be a cause for concern. Excessive whisker loss could be a symptom of various health problems such as fungal infections, dermatitis, trauma, or certain metabolic disorders. Exposure to harsh chemicals or poor diet could also lead to whisker loss. As always, if you notice any unusual changes in your cat’s whiskers or overall behavior, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian.

What Causes The Cat Whiskers To Fall Out?

Can Kitten Or Adult Cat’s Whiskers Grow Back If Pulled Out Or Cut?

Yes, both kittens and adult cats’ whiskers can grow back if they are pulled out or cut. However, it’s important to remember that whiskers are an integral part of a cat’s sensory system and should not be trimmed or plucked. If a cat’s whiskers are damaged, it can cause disorientation and distress as they lose an important means of navigating their surroundings. While whiskers do grow back, the process can take several months, during which time the cat could be uncomfortable or anxious due to their impaired sensory capacity. Therefore, it is advisable to refrain from interfering with your cat’s whiskers and let them be. If you find a whisker has fallen out naturally, there is no cause for concern. However, if whiskers seem to be falling out excessively or the cat appears to be in pain, a trip to the veterinarian would be warranted. [3]

Do Cats Feel Pain If You Cut Their Whiskers?

Yes, cutting a cat’s whiskers can cause considerable discomfort and distress to the animal. Although the act of cutting doesn’t cause physical pain as whiskers do not have nerves, it significantly impacts the cat’s ability to navigate and sense their environment leading to confusion and disorientation. This can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for the cat, which is a form of emotional pain. Therefore, it is strongly advised against cutting, trimming, or in any way altering a cat’s whiskers. Always let nature take its course when it comes to your pet’s whiskers. If you notice any problems or abnormalities with your cat’s whiskers, it’s always best to consult a veterinarian.

Do Cats Feel Pain If You Cut Their Whiskers?

How To Prevent Cats From Eating Their Whiskers

To prevent cats from eating their whiskers, several strategies can be implemented:

  1. Provide a Balanced Diet: Ensure that your cat is receiving a diet that is nutritionally complete. A diet lacking in necessary nutrients can lead to strange behaviors, including ingestion of non-food items.
  2. Enrichment Activities: Keep your cat stimulated both physically and mentally. Engaging toys, physical activity, and puzzle feeders can alleviate boredom and reduce stress, thus minimizing the chance of your cat resorting to odd behaviors like eating their whiskers.
  3. Regular Vet Check-ups: Regular visits to the vet are essential to rule out any underlying health issues that may be causing this behavior. If your cat is frequently chewing or eating its whiskers, a consultation with a veterinarian is advisable to ensure there are no medical conditions at play.
  4. Stress Reduction: Minimize changes in your cat’s environment that could lead to stress. If necessary, consider consultation with an animal behaviorist to address any potential stressors.

It’s important to remember that each cat is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. Always consult with a professional if you’re unsure about your cat’s behavior or well-being. [4]

When To Seek Veterinary Help

If your cat is exhibiting unusual behavior such as excessive chewing or eating of its whiskers, it’s crucial to seek veterinary help sooner rather than later. Other signs that veterinary intervention may be necessary include drastic changes in appetite or weight, lethargy, changes in litter box habits, persistent vomiting or diarrhea, signs of discomfort when eating, or changes in behavior such as increased aggression or withdrawal. Any sudden or unexplained alterations in your cat’s normal behavior should be a cause for concern. Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your pet’s health. If you’re in any doubt, a visit to the vet is definitely warranted. Regular check-ups also help in early detection of potential issues, ensuring that your feline friend stays in the best possible health. [5]

When To Seek Veterinary Help


Why do cats chew whiskers off?

Cats may chew off their whiskers due to a variety of reasons. In some instances, it could be a part of their grooming habit gone overboard. Cats are known for their meticulous grooming habits, and sometimes this could extend to their whiskers as well. On other occasions, this might be a manifestation of stress or anxiety. Cats, like humans, may resort to self-soothing behaviors when stressed, and chewing their whiskers could be one such unusual behavior. In rare cases, this could also be due to a medical issue, such as a skin infection or irritation around the whisker area that leads the cat to try and relieve the discomfort by chewing off the whiskers. It’s always best to consult a vet if your cat exhibits this behavior to rule out any potential health concerns.

Do cats get sad when you cut their whiskers?

Yes, cats can indeed get sad when their whiskers are cut, but it’s more than just sadness. As previously mentioned, a cat’s whiskers play a vital role in their sensory perception, helping them navigate their surroundings and detect changes in their environment. When their whiskers are cut, it’s akin to taking away a crucial part of their sensory system. This can lead to feelings of disorientation, confusion, and increased anxiety. While it’s hard to measure sadness in cats in the same way we do in humans, their behavior might change in ways that can be interpreted as sadness. They might become less active, show less interest in play, or become more withdrawn. Therefore, it’s crucial to avoid cutting a cat’s whiskers and allow them to grow naturally. If you notice any problems with your cat’s whiskers, always consult with a veterinarian for guidance.

Do cat whiskers grow back?

Yes, cat whiskers do grow back, but it takes time. Much like human hair, if a whisker is lost or damaged, a new one will grow in its place. However, it’s important to note that whiskers grow back at a much slower rate compared to regular fur. The growth rate will also depend on the individual cat’s age, health, and diet. It’s crucial to remember that while whiskers do grow back, it’s best to avoid doing anything that might cause your cat to lose them in the first place, as their absence can cause significant distress and disorientation for the cat. As always, if you have any concerns about your cat’s whiskers, you should consult with a vet.

Do cats whiskers hurt when eating?

No, a cat’s whiskers do not hurt when eating. Whiskers are highly sensitive sensory tools, but they do not have pain receptors like human skin does. Instead, they transmit information about the cat’s surroundings to the brain, helping them navigate their environment, judge distance and space, and detect changes in air currents. However, if a cat’s whiskers are constantly brushing against the sides of a narrow or deep food dish while eating, it could cause a sensation known as “whisker fatigue.” This is not painful but can be uncomfortable and distressing for the cat. To prevent this, consider providing a wide, shallow dish for your cat’s food, allowing them to eat comfortably without their whiskers touching the sides.

Is whisker stress real?

Yes, whisker stress, also known as whisker fatigue, is a real phenomenon in cats. Despite the name, it isn’t stress or fatigue in the way humans experience it. Rather, it’s a term used to describe the overstimulation of the sensory cells in a cat’s whiskers. This can occur when a cat’s whiskers repeatedly come into contact with the sides of a narrow or deep food or water dish. Over time, this constant brushing of the whiskers can lead to discomfort and may result in the cat exhibiting changes in behavior such as reluctance to eat or drink from their dishes, aggression, or other forms of distress. Using dishes designed for cats, which are typically wide and shallow, can help alleviate this issue. As always, it’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian if you notice changes in your cat’s behavior or eating habits.

Do cats have feelings in their whiskers?

Yes, cats do have feelings in their whiskers. Whiskers are essentially sensory tools that are highly sensitive to even the slightest changes in the cat’s environment. Each whisker is connected to sensitive nerve endings that send signals to the cat’s brain. This enables them to detect changes in air currents, judge distances and spatial arrangements, and even sense the texture or shape of an object. However, it’s important to note that while whiskers are sensitive, they don’t experience sensations in the way human fingers do. They don’t feel pain, heat or cold through their whiskers. Instead, these specialized hairs function more like antennae, providing information about the world around them.

Should I not touch my cats whiskers?

Yes, as a general rule, it’s best to avoid touching your cat’s whiskers. While it’s unlikely to cause pain due to the absence of pain receptors, it can feel incredibly strange and unsettling to a cat due to the heightened sensitivity of the whiskers. Unwanted touching can lead to overstimulation and distress. If you want to show affection, stick to stroking areas your cat enjoys, such as the base of the tail, under the chin, or behind the ears. Always remember to respect your feline friend’s boundaries to maintain a happy and healthy relationship. By understanding the importance and sensitivity of a cat’s whiskers, we can ensure that these fascinating feline features are treated with the care and respect they deserve.

Can cat whiskers just fall off?

Yes, cat whiskers can and do fall off naturally, much like human hair. This is a perfectly normal occurrence and is a part of the natural life cycle of a whisker. Whiskers will grow, reach maturity, and then eventually shed to be replaced by new whiskers. However, it’s important to note that whiskers don’t shed as frequently as fur, so if you notice a large number of lost whiskers or if the whiskers appear broken, it might be a sign of a health issue or stress. In such cases, it is always advisable to consult with a veterinarian. Overall, it’s best to allow your cat’s whiskers to grow and shed naturally without any interference.

Why do cats lick you?

Cats often lick their owners as a form of affectionate behavior, akin to grooming. Just as cats groom each other, licking you can be a sign that your cat is comfortable around you and views you as part of its family or “pack.” This behavior can also be a way for your feline friend to mark its territory, as cat saliva contains scent markers. Additionally, cats may lick you to get your attention, either because they are hungry or want to play. However, excessive licking can sometimes be a sign of anxiety or health issues, so it’s important to monitor your cat’s behavior and consult with a veterinarian if you notice any changes. So, don’t worry if your cat licks you – it’s just another way for them to show their love and affection.

Useful Video: Should your cat be worried about Whisker Stress?


In conclusion, cat whiskers serve a crucial function in aiding our feline friends to interact with their environment and navigate their surroundings. They are sensitive antennae rather than tactile hairs. It’s normal for whiskers to shed and regrow naturally, much like human hair. However, any significant changes or damage to the whiskers can cause distress and disorientation in cats. Remember to respect your cat’s boundaries and avoid touching their whiskers. If you notice any unusual behavior or changes in your cat related to their whiskers, consult with a veterinarian. Understanding these intriguing aspects of cat whiskers can help us take better care of our furry friends and strengthen our bond with them.


  1. https://www.hyaenidae.org/why-do-cats-eat-whiskers/
  2. https://all-about-cats.com/why-do-cats-eat-their-whiskers-when-they-fall-out/
  3. https://blog.catbandit.com/why-do-cats-want-to-eat-their-whiskers/
  4. https://catsonly.org/learn/why-does-my-cat-eat-my-other-cats-whiskers/
  5. https://askmycats.com/why-does-my-cat-eat-my-other-cats-whiskers/