Whiskers are one of a cat’s most essential features, often with a look described as whimsical. However, many are unaware of how big the role whiskers play in letting cats know more about their world.
Why are my cat’s whiskers curling?
Whiskers may curl for reasons that include genetics and age. The function that cats’ whiskers serve and their positioning can tell us a lot about why whiskers curl and if it is normal.
This video that shows a cat allowing a bird to groom its whiskers demonstrates how easily the whiskers can tell a cat if they are dealing with a friend or foe.
How Important Are Cats’ Whiskers and Where Do They Have Them?
Cat whiskers are made of the same material as human hair, known as keratin. According to BBC Wildlife, whiskers contain as many as 100 to 200 nerve cells in each.
In addition to the facial area, cats also have whiskers, cats also have whiskers on their forelegs. The location helps cats sense their environments much more easily.
Follicles more deeply embedded in the skin than typical hair follicles receive the signals that whiskers help transmit. A cat’s sensory system has information about its surroundings at all times due to the information received.
Whiskers make it easier for cats to sense environmental changes that go beyond sight, hearing, smell, touch, or taste. The heightened environmental sense that whiskers provide makes it easier for cats to respond to these changes.
When cats are in the dark or otherwise have decreased vision in specific settings, whiskers can help them detect where an object is and what it looks like. Changes in air currents that cats can feel with their whiskers can warn of any danger.
Although the shape of the whiskers in and of itself usually has no impact on the cat’s sensory abilities, we should know that whiskers are very sensitive. Understanding their positioning and is essential to knowing if curling is typical.
Does a Cats Whisker Position Tell Us Anything?
According to Dr. Lynn Buzhardt, cats have an average of over 24 whiskers. The position a cat holds their whiskers in says a lot about what may be going on at any time.
Most cats hold their whiskers out to the sides when they are relaxed, in the position that we usually associate with whiskers. A cat that is excited, such as at meal-time or when seeing a new toy, might have their whiskers pointing forward.
When angry or scared, a cat’s whiskers will tuck back against the face. The whisker position serves as a form of body language to other cats and animals that indicate the cat’s mood. Curly whiskers usually maintain their shape in all positions.
Although whisker curling does not customarily occur simply because the position changes, understanding how cats position their whiskers helps us see how curly whiskers might be an unusual circumstance and whether it might be a cause for concern.
Do Some Cats Have Naturally Curly Whiskers?
Yes, there are some breeds that have curly whiskers naturally. According to Esther Johnson at Pawversity, the Cornish and Devon Rex cats both have curly whiskers.
These breeds have curly whiskers, possibly due to the breeds sharing a common ancestor. Cats who are mixed-breed and have one of these breeds in their ancestry may have curly whiskers as well. Naturally curly whiskers can be a common trait for cats.
Any cat, regardless of age, can have whiskers that grow somewhat weaker with the age of the hair. Older cats of any breed may have whiskers that come in curly. Once the whisker starts to thicken, it is likely to straighten out.
All of these circumstances are normal and should not be issues of concern for cats that are otherwise healthy. If your cat has a balanced diet that includes all the necessary nutrients, the whiskers and other hairs are probably healthy.
Can Curly Whiskers Have Anything to Do With Whisker Fatigue?
What is whisker fatigue, anyway? In short, it is an issue that occurs when a cat’s whiskers continually brush against the sides of their water or food bowls. Because of overstimulation, a cat is likely to feel discomfort, pain, and stress.
According to Cat Health, whisker fatigue has several symptoms. None involve the whiskers curling but can indicate a problem with the bowl used.
Aggression and pacing near the bowl are symptoms you might see. If the cat will only eat if the bowl is filled to the top or ignores food while still wanting to be fed, whisker fatigue may be a problem. Behavioral changes like these are a symptom.
Spilled food and water are among the most common signs. If your cat scoops food out of the bowl with its paws, this, too, is a sign of whisker fatigue. Your cat’s whiskers are not doing the job they should if your cat is grabbing food from the bowl.
New food and water bowls are a good idea if your cat is showing any of these signs. When your cat can eat and drink without discomfort, your pet will feel more at ease. Curled whiskers are unrelated to whisker fatigue, which is easily remedied.
Do Curly Whiskers Ever Break Off?
If you’ve ever wondered whether curly cat whiskers break off, this is a reasonable question. Some curly cat whiskers are somewhat more brittle. Although the curly shape itself likely doesn’t make the whiskers brittle in and of itself, breakage happens.
According to Melisa Breyer from Treehugger, cat whiskers are proportionate to the animal’s size. Shorter whiskers are more brittle than the longer counterparts.
Cats may have whiskers break off during fights with other animals. Going through a tight space may also stress the whiskers and lead to breakage. Such situations can be stressful for cats because they rely so much on their whiskers.
If you’ve observed your cat’s whiskers becoming brittle or breaking off more than usual, seeing if your cat’s nutritional needs are being met may be in order. Foods that address skin and coat health will provide the necessary nutrients.
Is It Okay to Trim Cat Whiskers That Are Curly?
You should never trim a cat’s whiskers, and there are good reasons why you should avoid taking this step. Cats will shed whiskers as a part of the normal shedding process. Unlike the hairs on the coat, whiskers perform vital navigational functions.
Cutting or trimming whiskers also has adverse effects that are not seen with coat hairs. Sensory organs present in the ends of the whiskers help cats maintain their balance when jumping or leaping, making the whiskers essential to their safety.
Even if a cat has perfect vision, the loss of a whisker can cause disorientation. Cutting off a cat’s whiskers is unnecessary and cruel because of the importance that these sensory tools have for a cat’s everyday life.
Although curly whiskers on cats aren’t very common, there is nothing wrong with a cat having curly whiskers. The breed, as well as the cat’s age, can help make a difference in the whisker shape. Age often increases the amount of curling.
Factors that include a cat’s mood may impact the position of its whiskers. The overall health of a cat’s whiskers may depend on the quality of the cat’s diet. If your pet has brittle whiskers, food for skin and coat health may be useful.
Never cut or trim your cat’s whiskers, even if they seem long. The whiskers provide important sensory information to cats, regardless of the shape. Curly whiskers are nothing to be concerned about