What Happens If You Cut Off A Cat’s Whiskers?

The presence of whiskers typically marks the cat’s facial appearance. They are found around their eyes, the similitude of the brows in humans.

Longer and firmer whiskers are found around the muzzle. It is why you never confuse a cat with other species.

What happens if you cut off a cat's whiskers

Apart from giving a cat a unique appearance. But did you know the function more than just features on the face of cats; whiskers play a vital role in the survivability and adaptability of cats?

Can cats survive without their ‘signature’ whiskers? What happens when you cut off a cat’s whiskers?

As whiskers display such versatility, it is important to understand their functions to illustrate what happens in their absence.

Cutting Off A Cat’s Whiskers Will Cause The Following Predicaments In Your Cat


The function is just like antennae in insects, functioning as sensory organs. Though whiskers are called ‘tactile hairs’ in reality, they cannot feel anything.

They merely transmit sensory impulses detected from the external environment to the sensory receptors and thus navigate and guide a cat through its daily activities. They provide additional sensory input.

When external stimuli such as touch and pressure, brought about by air or objects, come in contact with a cat’s whiskers, it vibrates.

It is why whiskers are also referred to as vibrissae, coined from which the Latin word vibrio, meaning to vibrate.

This vibration stimulates the nerve in the hair follicles and communicates information to the brain about the shape, size, and speed of the object initiating the stimulus.

Thereby, whiskers enhance the cat’s movement and sensitivity.

When you cut off a cat’s whiskers, you have inhibited this pathway of stimulus reception, thereby affecting its sensitivity.

Your cat might have difficulties being aware of objects in its environment. Cutting off a cat’s whiskers causes disorientation.

The presence of whiskers is also the primary reason why you can’t sneak up on your cat. They are constantly aware and conscious.

Whiskers prevent them from collisions and jamming into objects in the wild.

Loss Of Balance

It is amazing how a cat has such incredible balance. Did you know cats land on their feet regardless of where they are falling from?

Thanks to their whiskers, cats have improved their balancing ability. Special sensory receptors, called proprioceptors, are found at the end of a cat’s whiskers.

These receptors constantly transmit impulses to the brain, giving information about the body positioning of the cat.

If you cut off those beautiful whiskers of your cat, maybe it won’t be such a perfect athlete anymore. It finds it more difficult to balance.

Poor Vision

You’re probably wondering what whiskers have to do with vision. The eye is the primary organ of vision for most animals. However, in cats, their vision is not as developed.

It’s easier for cats to see what’s far away than directly under their nose! Whisker serves as radar sensors. They help the cat see nearer objects by sending impulses to the brain.

Whiskers are capable of picking up the slightest vibrations.

When a cat moves, it disturbs the air balance in its surrounding, which bounces back and notifies the cat of objects immediately around him.

You might have wondered why your cat sometimes doesn’t see its feed when it’s yet so close. There you have it; it’s because they are ‘long-sighted’!

Their whiskers prevent them from ramming or bumping into walls in dim light.

Even the loss of a single strand of whisker causes a significant impediment in a cat’s sensitivity.

So, when next you get the thought of trimming or cutting off your cat’s whiskers, be aware you are cutting away an angle of its vision. Your cat may also find it tedious to see and pick up feed.

Communication Defects

In a pet-owner relationship, the relevance of communication cannot be overrated; as you know, these animals cannot express their feeling and emotions.

Hence we must watch out for their body language. There are multiple ways by which your domestic cat expresses how it’s feeling- purring, puffing, meowing, growling, hissing, etc.

The position and angling of a cat’s whiskers are also important to understand how they’re feeling at the moment.

A cat communicates its emotions using whiskers. The whiskers are relaxed when a cat is resting and content. However, the muzzle whiskers are firm and taut when excited or feeling threatened.

Also, the whiskers around the eyes are lifted up-elevated when a cat is happy and curious.

If the whiskers are cut off, it means you have to pay more attention to the other signs to understand how your pet is feeling.

What happens if I cut off my cat's whiskers

Exposure To Damage

Perhaps you’ve always thought the whiskers were only an enhancement of the face, or probably just vestiges. Well, whiskers also help in protecting the cat.

Whiskers around the eyes help prevent them from dust when a cat roams and wanders about a sandy field or finds itself in an old, dusty attic.

Whiskers help prevent dust from entering the eyes, thereby causing irritation. Also, the whiskers’ sensory activity helps it navigate and avoid danger from thorns and woody stems as it moves through the bush.

When you cut off a cat’s whiskers, you’re exposing it to many forms of potential injuries.

Reduced Hunting Efficiency

Whiskers are used as feelers. During hunting, with the aid of whiskers, a cat can judge the speed and size of the prey through vibrations in the air.

This makes cats such excellent hunters. The absence of whiskers makes cats less calculative and causes redundancy.

They are less able to perform effectively during hunting. The prolonged defect may be fatal for a cat in the wild due to starvation.

Will A Cat Die If It Loses Its Whiskers?

Cats lose strands of whiskers periodically, which are eventually replaced with new strands, and there is little to no significant damage.

However, sudden loss of many strands simultaneously will cause disorientation and loss of balance, along with all the effects listed above.

Cutting off your cat’s whiskers will not solely cause immediate death. Your cat may find it difficult to carry out the daily activities required to sustain survival.

What Will Happen If You Cut Off A Cat’s Whiskers On One Side?

Suppose you cut off your cat’s whiskers on one side. In that case, your cat will show similar signs to those listed earlier- disorientation, loss of balance, poor vision, defect in the communication of emotions, exposure to damage, and reduced hunting efficiency.

The whiskers will regrow, and your cat may find living uneasily through the whiskers’ growth phase. The whiskers left on the other side will have to function to maintain balance optimally!

You should also know that the whiskers on either side of the cat’s nose and above the eyes aren’t the only ones it has; whiskers can be on their chin and jawline and the back of their front legs.

Whiskers should be protected and not cut!

A part of the brain is devoted to analyzing data from touch sensors. Whiskers are important sensory receptors; hence, up to 40% of the brain’s sensory area is aligned with areas with whiskers.

Since whiskers are highly important for executing a cat’s daily function, they should be treated with care and subtly attended to.

When you’re petting your cat, be careful around the whiskers and gently caress them.

Apart from causing physical pain to your lovely pet when plucking, you’re causing physical, psychological, and neurological damage to your cut when you cut off your cat’s whiskers!