All You Need To Know About Whisker Fatigue In Cats

BY | July 03 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY

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Has your cat appeared to be more unusually stressed? Does he/she hesitate to eat food from the food bowl or tray even though they are clearly hungry? These could be signs that your feline friend is suffering from a condition known as whisker fatigue.While some vets believe that whisker fatigue is not really a legitimate condition in cats that require attention and treatment, the result of it โ€“ stress and even aggressive behavior โ€“ is in fact, a real cause for concern. So, if your cat has been showing these signs, itโ€™s better to get it checked as soon as possible.

What is whisker fatigue?

Whisker fatigue is a condition in which the whiskers of a cat are overloaded with sensory information, which in turn, leads to increased stress. Your catโ€™s whiskers are not just there to make them look cuter than they already are. They are extremely sensitive, enabling cats to use them as sensory receptors. In short, whiskers help cats to be aware of and navigate their surroundings.So, when the whiskers come in contact with objects too often, or even if they only detect movements, they can easily perceive these and send it to the brain. This includes even things which may seem insignificant like a slight difference in air current or a light brush against your catโ€™s face.When your catโ€™s whiskers sense these changes and touches way more often than they should, an overload of information is sent to the brain, resulting in your cat being stressed, anxious and tired.If your cat is down with whisker fatigue, he/she may exhibit behavior like constant meowing and backing away from the food tray when you try to feed them, pacing around their food instead of actually eating it, and getting agitated and aggressive whenever they are near the food tray. This is because they tend to brush their whiskers against their food trays while eating, and this has become the most common cause of whisker fatigue.

Preventing whisker fatigue  

Since whisker fatigue is becoming common knowledge among cat owners and those in the feline care industry, it is not very difficult to prevent your cat from developing it. There are lots of trusted brands that sell whisker-friendly feeding bowls and trays for cats. This means that they are designed in such a way that they are shallower and have a wider opening, allowing the cat plenty of space while eating so his/her whiskers will not touch the bowl or tray.You can even use plates and saucers that you already have at home instead of buying new feeding trays. They essentially have the same design and provide the same solution.

All You Need To Know About Whisker Stress In Cats

Does your pet appear extremely fussy around food? Have you noticed him spilling excessive food onto the ground and leaving a huge mess for you to clean up? Has your cat ever rejected an entire bowl of food after a few mouthfuls, only to beg you for more food again? If you have wondered if this is a behavioral issue, youโ€™re right. But itโ€™s not one to get annoyed about. Your cat isnโ€™t making your life harder, heโ€™s suffering from whisker stress.

What exactly is whisker stress in cats?
To fully understand what whisker stress means, you need to look closely at your catโ€™s whiskers. What is their function? Whiskers, in most animals, function as feelers that capture information about the surfaces they contact. Most cats have whiskers so sensitive that they pick up on subtle vibrations in the air. Whiskers may appear to be hair, but theyโ€™re far more complex. Theyโ€™re cells rich in blood vessels and nerve endings, which enhance a catโ€™s vision and senses.

So, what does this have to do with your catโ€™s eating habits? Well, if your cat is eating out of a bowl that canโ€™t accommodate his whiskers, he is likely to feel a lot of pain. The pressure of being forced to fit a narrow bowl can send pain waves through your catโ€™s nerve-rich whiskers.

To really understand how painful this can be, imagine this. A single whisker shoots out a stress signal if it moves 1/200th the width of a human hair. Now picture how strong this signal would be if a cat had to squeeze his entire face into the narrow walls of a bowl. Catsโ€™ whiskers have evolved over time to be able to gauge spaces and send signals so the cat can respond accordingly. This means that the whiskers are constantly screaming to the cat that the bowl is too narrow for his head and that he should stop forcing it to fit. Now you know why your cat behaves funnily when you try to serve meals in bowls that are way too narrow.

How to save your cat from whisker stress?
The great news about whisker stress is that saving your cat from it requires a simple fix. All you have to do is switch out your catโ€™s feeding and water bowls for bigger ones that comfortably accommodate his whiskers. Ensure that the bowls are wide and shallow so thereโ€™s no chance of your petโ€™s whiskers touching the sides even if he bends to reach the very bottom.

Many cat owners donโ€™t understand why their pets choose to go hungry over eating from certain bowls. They mistake this behavior for their pet being fussy or finicky. This certainly isn't the case. As you now know, whisker stress causes severe pain in cats causing them to react very dramatically. The good news is that you can use the simple fixes on this post to solve this painful problem.

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