Translate This Blog

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Missing Whiskers

Mary sends in this question...

I am writing you a question for my mom who just inherited 2 cats. One of the cats had only one eyebrow whisker on one side when she moved in, and now she has none on one side. Is this a problem? Also, is there such a thing as fake cat eyelashes? ;)

The long whiskers on a cat's face are used as sensors, and have clusters of nerves at the base. They detect subtle touch and movement, allowing a cat to more easily detect their surroundings, especially in dim light or darkness. Your average pet cat won't be harmed by their loss, and will continue in their daily lives without any problems. The whiskers are a specialized form of hair, but are still hair. Therefore they will grow, live a period of time, fall out, and be replaced like any other hair.

Missing whiskers for a short period of time isn't really a concern. However, this may be the first sign of something wrong with the skin or coat. Common reasons for hair loss in cats are fleas, skin mites, and allergies. These normally don't start with just the whiskers, so I don' t know that this would be a concern if it's limited to them. My recommendation would be to have her observe the kitty closely, and if this spreads to other whiskers or other hairs begin to fall out she should take her to a vet to be evaluated.

And no, there are no kitty false eyelashes. :)