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The indestructability of cats' whiskers

They’re like curb feelers on Dad’s Olds

Leave the cat alone, Wally, okay?  - Image by Rick Geary
Leave the cat alone, Wally, okay?

If you clip a cat's whiskers, will this cause a permanent loss, or will the stubs grow out again to their proper length? Or will each stub fall out and a new bristle grow in to take its place? I would experiment on my own cat to find the answer, but I’m rather fond of the guy and don't want to hurt his feline feelings. — Wally Howard, San Diego

Another American in need of a hobby. Leave the cat alone, Wally, okay? I can only hope that if you take the Fiskars to the whiskers, he’ll bite you smartly on the hand. Cat’s whiskers, called vibrissae, are just modified hair shafts growing from follicles loaded with sensory nerve endings. Assuming your pet will let you get close enough (don’t think he doesn’t know something’s up), go nose to nose with him and check out how his whiskers extend beyond the width of his body. When he’s prowling around in dark places, his whiskers help him determine whether a space is wide enough to crawl through. They’re like curb feelers on Dad’s Olds, but sensitive enough to feel a tiny puff of air. Whiskers act as an extension of a cat’s eyes. But like all hair shafts, whiskers fall out on their own periodically, and new ones begin to grow again. Cut them off, and the stubs continue to grow to whatever length they would have been if you’d left well enough alone; then they’ll fall out and regrow, just as if you hadn’t done something so annoyingly pointless. Other than sustaining a major blow to his dignity, the cat won’t suffer greatly from the dewhiskering. 1 hate to give you any new ideas, but cats also have vibrissae on their feet and lower legs that are helpful in maintaining balance. Cut them and you’d have a fairly clumsy pet for a while. He’ll knock over your lamps and knickknacks, all the while plotting some monstrous revenge when he’s fully recovered.

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Leave the cat alone, Wally, okay?  - Image by Rick Geary
Leave the cat alone, Wally, okay?

If you clip a cat's whiskers, will this cause a permanent loss, or will the stubs grow out again to their proper length? Or will each stub fall out and a new bristle grow in to take its place? I would experiment on my own cat to find the answer, but I’m rather fond of the guy and don't want to hurt his feline feelings. — Wally Howard, San Diego

Another American in need of a hobby. Leave the cat alone, Wally, okay? I can only hope that if you take the Fiskars to the whiskers, he’ll bite you smartly on the hand. Cat’s whiskers, called vibrissae, are just modified hair shafts growing from follicles loaded with sensory nerve endings. Assuming your pet will let you get close enough (don’t think he doesn’t know something’s up), go nose to nose with him and check out how his whiskers extend beyond the width of his body. When he’s prowling around in dark places, his whiskers help him determine whether a space is wide enough to crawl through. They’re like curb feelers on Dad’s Olds, but sensitive enough to feel a tiny puff of air. Whiskers act as an extension of a cat’s eyes. But like all hair shafts, whiskers fall out on their own periodically, and new ones begin to grow again. Cut them off, and the stubs continue to grow to whatever length they would have been if you’d left well enough alone; then they’ll fall out and regrow, just as if you hadn’t done something so annoyingly pointless. Other than sustaining a major blow to his dignity, the cat won’t suffer greatly from the dewhiskering. 1 hate to give you any new ideas, but cats also have vibrissae on their feet and lower legs that are helpful in maintaining balance. Cut them and you’d have a fairly clumsy pet for a while. He’ll knock over your lamps and knickknacks, all the while plotting some monstrous revenge when he’s fully recovered.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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