Did you know this? Our whiskers work sooo hard. But what causes whisker fatigue isn’t all the work they do, but the bowls our food is served in. Whisker fatigue can get so bad, it keeps some cats from eating.
Do cats really get whisker fatigue, Thomasina? What the heck is it???
— Puzzled Cat Mom
Hey, Puzzled Cat Mom!
I’m so glad you asked, because whisker fatigue, or whisker stress, is so common and so few humans are even aware of it. They put their cats’ food in deep, dark bowls, and then they wonder why the cats don’t eat. They don’t eat because the bowls make their whiskers work overtime and hurt!
How Whiskers Work
My human typist just had to add this: Cat whiskers are rooted in hair follicles that are filled with blood vessels and nerves. When the whiskers brush up against something, they vibrate, stimulating the nerves in the hair follicles.
Ouch! No wonder deep or narrow cat food dishes cause whisker fatigue!
The Wonders Of Whiskers
Did you know this? Our whiskers are like built-in GPS that provides important information about our location.
I thought I’d make a list of all the things our whiskers do for us. None of them cause whisker fatigue!
- Our whiskers are the same width as our bodies and act like little rulers that help us decide whether we can fit into narrow spaces.
- Whiskers also help us move around a dark room without bumping into furniture.
- Our whiskers sense changes in air currents, and can let us know when another animal is approaching. That’s also a big help when we’re… ummm… hunting (Sorry, human typist. That doesn’t really work when we’re “hunting” toys).
- The whiskers on the backs of our front paws let us know when the tiny animal we’ve just caught (Oh. My human typist thinks I should have said toy here) is firmly within our grasp. Those whiskers also help us feel our way when we’re climbing trees.
- The whiskers above our eyes cause a “blink reaction” that keeps us from getting poked in the eye.
Whiskers: A Window Into Our Moods
You Know Your Cat Has Whisker Fatigue When…
- Your cat pulls food out of her bowl and eats it off the floor.
- She paces in front of her bowl but is reluctant to eat.
- She’s aggressive with your other cats around food.
- She doesn’t eat the food on the bottom or sides of her bowl.
The Simple Solution For Whisker Fatigue
Imagine trying to eat when your brain is constantly getting messages that something is nearby. Talk about information overload!
The simple way to prevent whisker fatigue or stress is to put your cat’s food on a saucer or small plate. Or give her cat food bowls that are shallow and wide enough that her whiskers won’t touch the sides. We like bowls that are slightly elevated, too, so we don’t have to bend down so far to eat.
Some of the cats in our family eat off plates, but I have really cute wide, shallow bowls with orange rims that match my orange fur.