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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, you’re right. But it’s not one to get annoyed about. Your cat isn’t making your life harder, he’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 cat’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 they’re far more complex. They’re cells rich in blood vessels and nerve endings, which enhance a cat’s vision and senses.
So, what does this have to do with your cat’s eating habits? Well, if your cat is eating out of a bowl that can’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 cat’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. Cats’ 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 cat’s feeding and water bowls for bigger ones that comfortably accommodate his whiskers. Ensure that the bowls are wide and shallow so there’s no chance of your pet’s whiskers touching the sides even if he bends to reach the very bottom.
Many cat owners don’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.