What Is Feline Whisker Fatigue?

Whisker fatigue is something that a lot of cat owners have probably never heard of, but it could be making your kitty an unhappy feline. Continue reading to learn about what whisker fatigue is, as well as what you can do to stop it.

First Off, What’s Whisker Fatigue?

Your pet’s whiskers are more than just long, thick hairs that look adorable and perfectly complement your kitty’s face. At the end of every whisker is a proprioceptor, which is a sensory organ that sends signals to the nervous system and brain. Proprioceptors are so sensitive that they can detect vibrations within the air, and they help your cat get around in dark rooms and tight spaces. Also, because felines are farsighted, whiskers give them what they need to essentially be able to see what’s in front of their faces.

Related: How Much Should I Feed My Cat?

Because the whiskers are highly sensitive, over time, they can become stressed and fatigued after having a lot of unnecessary contact with objects, such as with the sides of a food bowl.

What Are the Symptoms of Whisker Fatigue?

If your cat is exhibiting the following behaviors, she may be dealing with whisker fatigue, which can be annoying and painful:

  • Pulling food out of the bowl to eat it on the floor instead
  • Leaving food behind in the bowl, despite still being hungry
  • Behaving aggressively towards other pets while eating
  • Making a mess with her food on the floor
  • Showing signs of hunger, but hesitating to eat by pacing near her food bowl or standing next to it for some time prior to eating

What Can You Do? It’s All About the Bowls

Thankfully, the solution for whisker fatigue is pretty simple, as it involves merely switching the type of food and water bowls that you’re using. The right bowl will be ergonomically appropriate for your kitty’s face, making eating a comfortable and enjoyable experience, rather than a frustrating or painful one.

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There are several cat food bowls on the market that are designed to relieve and prevent whisker fatigue, such as Dr. Catsby’s Feline Remedies bowl. Look for a food bowl that’s designed with a shallow, wide shape so your cat can easily access her food without having her whiskers stimulated or pulled back. The right design will also prevent your cat from having to painfully push her nose into the inside edges of the bowl in order to get to the food there.

When it comes to water bowls, on the other hand, look for one that’s wide so your kitty can drink the water from the middle of the bowl without affecting the whiskers.

Choose the Right Material

whisker reliefWhen shopping for your kitty’s food and water bowls, opt for those that are made of non-porous materials. Stainless steel is the best option, followed by glass and ceramic. As an example, Dr. Catsby’s Bowl for Whisker Relief is a stainless steel product, but you can find similar items on the market made from other recommended materials.

Plastic cat food bowls are not recommended, even if they are deemed “food safe” because the material can develop micro-abrasions where bacteria could grow. The bacteria, which might persist despite the bowls being washed, would then come into contact with your cat’s face and nose, potentially resulting in feline acne.

Mealtime is an important part of your kitty’s day, so if you find that your pet is hesitating or wants to take her food to go because she’d rather not eat out of the bowl, she may be suffering from whisker fatigue. A simple swap of the food bowl for one that’s ergonomic and designed to prevent whisker fatigue could help.

lisa newLisa Selvaggio is a writer who has volunteered in animal rescue, caring for cats of all ages and learning their many quirks. She is certified in clinical pet nutrition, and enjoys helping pet parents give their fur babies the best care possible. Read more of her work online at Creatively Informative Writing.


Comments

  • Therese Davis

    As I was reading a related article which gave link to your post here, I noticed our cat Poofy take a mouthful of dry kibble from her bowl and drop it on the floor. She then ate the food from the floor. I have seen our other cats walk away from their food bowl many times, even when we knew they were hungry. They have no problem licking our plates clean after we have finished our human meals. Half our cats prefer to drink from the faucet as opposed to a bowl. Another cat paws at the water bowl and makes big waves and then he will lap at the waves. So I went out an purchased many small saucers from our local resale shop to replace the plastic (eep! didn’t know they were bad) bowls we had for them. Already we have seen a change in the amount of food they are eating. Wish I would have known about this sooner. But then again, maybe they’d all weigh a zillion pounds if I had 😉 ps: I think it’s more of a whisker sensitivity issue and not ‘fatigue’ – but whatever the terminology, I agree with your assessment. Thanks for posting this. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/febb825e7f10aa60f8b5742b49ea5c756e497a0d68577b97f3514f0b9a2e5b94.jpg