What is Whisker Fatigue in Cats?

Why would a cat’s whiskers get tired? Isn’t that what whisker fatigue means, tired whiskers? We’re envisioning, drooping whiskers barely able to get through the day due to the sheer exhaustion of it all. It’s meant to be funny, but is it really that far off? What is whisker fatigue and how do one’s whiskers get it?

cat whiskers
Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

Whisker Fatigue in Cats

According to Dr. Minta Keyes, retired DVM from Cat Vet Tucson, in basic terms, whisker fatigue is simply overstimulation of the sensory system of the whiskers. What happens when the whiskers are touched too much, even if it is basic brushing against food and water dishes, is the cat’s brain gets an onslaught of sensory messages transmitted to it.

What Causes Whisker Fatigue?

Believe it or not, their whiskers brushing against food and water dishes really can end up becoming an irritant. That’s because a cat’s whiskers are working for them nearly every moment of the day. They allow cats to navigate their territory and identify whether they can fit through spaces or if there are obstacles to contend with, all from the touch of their whiskers.

cat bowls
Photo: Pixabay/sweetlouise

Signs of Whisker Fatigue

Some of the signs include a refusal to eat or drink from their usual bowls/dishes, pacing about in front of the food bowls and meowing like something is wrong, pawing at or striking food and water to try to pull it from their bowl, and behaving aggressively around food or treats when it’s provided to them from a dish or bowl. These signs can seemingly come out of nowhere. Or maybe your cat has always removed a mouthful of food from its dish and dropped it on the floor to eat.

Combatting Whisker Fatigue

If you notice your cat suddenly presenting with some of these behaviors, you can always try feeding them from a lunch or dinner plate rather than from their bowls. The lack of sides and the broad, flat surface might be just the ticket for negating the sensation cats experience when their whiskers are constantly coming into contact with smaller bowls designed for feeding cats.

cat food bowl
Photo: Pixabay/Crepessuzette

Specially Designed Bowls for Cats

Another option is to purchase cat bowls with whisker fatigue in mind. One of them is by a brand known as Necoichi, which has created extra-wide raised bowls that come in several designs. According to DVM Catherine Barnette, “The use of an elevated bowl allows gravity to assist in moving food from the mouth to the stomach. Cats with other eating or swallowing problems may also benefit from an elevated food bowl.”

Educate Yourself on Cats

If you’d like to better educate yourself on the topic because you suspect one of your felines might be experiencing whisker fatigue, this comprehensive article by Cat Vet Tucson can help a lot. Good luck!

cats eating
Photo: Pixabay/rotbart94
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