“Whisker fatigue” is a relatively new theory which states that cats can become stressed from eating and drinking out of deep food bowls because their whiskers are sensitive and are in constant contact with the sides of the bowl. This is according to Lisa Polazzi, an ER vet. This scenario may cause the cat to avoid the food bowl, and the owner might be tempted to assume the cat is just being a finicky eater.
Of course other problems may exist that cause your cat not to eat or drink from his food bowl such as having dental disease or some other health issues. In such cases, your vet should be consulted immediately.
What are some common signs of whisker fatigue? You cat may paw or pull food out of the bowl to eat it on the floor. Or, she may make a mess around the bowl while eating. In addition, she may leave food in her bowl, but still seem to be hungry. Or, she may approach the food bowl with unreasonable caution. Finally, she may act as though she wants to eat, but just paces around nervously. All of these can be signs of whisker fatigue.
A cat’s whickers not only help with eating, but they also help them navigate in the dark. Whiskers have a special sensory organ on them which sends messages to the brain and nervous system. They are so very sensitive that they can even detect differences in the wind which can help them chase prey.
A special organ on each whisker is a proprioceptor which is a tactile sensor. Because these whiskers have a special sensor on them, they should never be trimmed.
Should you be concerned about your cat having whisker fatigue, it is best to contact your vet for an analysis.
Source: Dr. Norman Booker at Hobart Animal Clinic