My wife and I are pure cat lovers, and she recently told me that, supposedly, if you trim a cat's whiskers, the cat is more likely to squeeze into a space it can't get out of and starve/suffocate/die in some horrible way. This is allegedly due to the cat's reliance on the whiskers for its sense of width and spatial relations, but my wife can't tell me where she heard it from.
I've been told a similar story, that cutting off a cat's whiskers would cause it to go insane because of the same loss of spacial relations perception. I don't think either scenario sounds that plausible, though. I've known a couple of cats who went blind in old age and just compensated in other ways -- didn't move around as much and relied more on their other senses.
This takes me back! When I was young, my mama told me that you shouldn't cut a cat's whiskers, because they aren't mere "hairs," but have nerve fibers their whole length. It would hurt the cat, just like cutting a fingertip.
quote:When I was young, my mama told me that you shouldn't cut a cat's whiskers, because they aren't mere "hairs," but have nerve fibers their whole length. It would hurt the cat, just like cutting a fingertip. Um...that ain't true, is it?
I'll put it this way: Cutting your cat's whiskers will hurt the cat far less than my shaving my whiskers hurts me.
I have (among other pets) a fifteen-year-old cat who is quite happy, but has some allergy problems that require I give him steriods (orally) about every other day.
If I don't give him the steroids, he scratches himself a lot, gets scabby, and his whiskers snap off (get very brittle). So I give him the steroids, and he's really happy and quite soft and warm.
But at one time almost all his whiskers were snapped off about 1/4 inch from his face. Other than looking comical, and his general unhappiness with his overall condition, he was OK. I didn't find him wedged behind the furnace or anything. I try to give him lots of milk on the theory that the calcium will build up healthy whiskers.
Whiskers are hairs and do not contain nerve endings. The cat senses by the movement of the whisker at the base where it is anchored in the skin.
I have noticed that when cats get really really old and are within a year or so of dying, they get really mellow and friendly and sit around a purr a LOT and LOUDLY - even nasty siamese cats. My old tabbey Dora was that way (bless her heart).
So I think this Russian Blue has not long to live. His disposition has always been friendly, but lately, he won't leave me alone, what with the purring and all.
My dog lost her sight in one eye and it hasn't made much of a difference in her maneuverability. She considers the couch a bit before jumping on it but that's about it. So, if chopping off the whiskers did have an effect, I'm sure the cat would adapt right quick.