Cat Questions
do cat whiskers grow back

Do Cat Whiskers Grow Back - How Long Does It Take?

Written by Steph McCulloch


Do you look at your cat’s whiskers and think ‘what are they?’ If so, you’re not alone. Whilst they might just look a bit mysterious and weird, cat whiskers actually have a greater purpose and are a fascinating part of feline anatomy.
A cat with long whiskers


Do you look at your cat’s whiskers and think ‘what are they?’ If so, you’re not alone. Whilst they might look a bit mysterious and weird, cat whiskers actually have a greater purpose and are a fascinating part of feline anatomy. 

We’re here today to break it all down and find out what these little feline antennas really do, what it means when they move around, and how long they take to grow back if they’re cut or fall out. Interested in reading more so you can become one step closer to Leading Cat Expert? Come on then, let’s begin.

What do cat whiskers do?

close up of cat whiskers

Cat whiskers are actually hair. The biological name for them is vibrissae - fancy, right? Whilst they’re prominent around the mouth and nose, you’ve probably noticed that your cat also has a few whiskers by their brows and chin. 

Like any sort of hair, they fall out, which is why you may notice a rogue whisker laying about every now and then. However, the similarities between whiskers and fur end there. 

Whiskers have a few essential jobs on the face of a cat. Firstly, they help your cat move around and navigate spatial awareness in tight spots, like when they slither behind the couch. They contain special receptors at the ends of the whiskers which act as sensory organs called proprioceptors.

Secondly, they can detect changes in air current which helps them to move around at night with ease. During the nighttime, the whiskers act like little radars and help to feel air currents as vibrations. This, in turn, alerts them to prey.

Whiskers can also be used as feelers when a cat’s view is limited. By brushing into objects and feeling around, they can find their way back home or wherever it is all the cool neighbourhood cats hang out.

And finally, they act as part of your cat's body language so once you learn to read whiskers you can determine if your cat is in a good or bad mood and if it is the latter, we advise you to stay away.

Whiskers can indicate a whole host of emotions but generally speaking, if they’re relaxed, your cat feels content and happy. When they’re angled more forward it indicates a more inquisitive mood where your cat may be on high alert. 

If your cat’s whiskers are flattened down towards their face, they are not a happy chappy and could be feeling very frightened.
Note that cats can also suffer from whisker fatigue or whisker stress if their whiskers are overstimulated. 

What happens if cat whiskers are cut off?

A cat looking up

Uh oh, step away from the scissors. Cat whiskers aren’t just for aesthetic purposes, they help them to navigate safely. Cutting them is never advised and can actually be very painful as the base of these long stiff hairs contain blood vessels and nerve endings.

Because they are a sensory mechanism, cutting these tactile hairs, even if by mistake, can cause cats to feel very disoriented and wobbly on their legs. 

Cats without facial whiskers often struggle to estimate the size of certain openings and face a loss of balance meaning they’re far more likely to fall and hurt themselves.

Can cats feel if their whiskers are cut?

A cat laying down with its long whiskers bent

Whilst the actual whisker doesn’t contain any nerves, the repercussions of cutting a whisker can cause cats to feel distressed. Plucking a whisker can cause agonising pain as the hair follicle at the bottom of the whisker contains nerve endings.

Cutting a cat’s whiskers means depriving them of sensory information and can cause them to struggle to navigate their environment - essentially placing them in danger.

The only time a cat’s whisker should be cut is when deemed appropriate by a vet. For example, if your cat was diagnosed with a follicle infection, trimming the whiskers would probably be deemed necessary for treatment. Again, this would only be performed by a qualified professional in a strict medical setting.

Do cat whiskers grow back?

close up of cat whiskers

One of the most searched questions around whiskers is ‘do cats grow back whiskers?’ Thankfully, cat whiskers do grow back if they’ve been cut or naturally fallen off. Phew.

However, it can take some time and, as we’ve discussed above, whiskers are a key part of cat communication so a loss of whiskers can affect how your feline friend navigates their environment and how they feel within themselves.

Whilst it might not cause physical pain, cutting whiskers can cause emotional pain for your poor kitty so they might feel a bit down in the dumps until their whiskers come back.

It usually takes around two to three months for whiskers to grow back but this is determined by other factors such as breed, diet, and health issues. Cats who are unwell might not regrow their whiskers until they are healthy again.


So there we have it - the rundown on cat whiskers so you can be the cat's whiskers.

Just to recap, cat whiskers are a prominent feature that gives cats an agile, athletic ability, especially when it comes to squeezing into spaces and navigating the world at night.

Cutting them is never advised and can cause way more harm than good. A genuine groomer would never suggest trimming their whiskers as this can make your cat vulnerable to dangerous situations. 

Cutting or removing a cat's whiskers is like placing a blindfold on a human. We’d fall over everywhere and wouldn’t be able to go far without hurting ourselves. 

However, if their whiskers fall out or are damaged by cutting they will tend to grow back within due time, so try not to stress!

Whiskers are a fascinating part of a cat's anatomy that helps them to communicate with us, see in the dark, and act on their hunting instincts. Very impressive if you ask us. 

If you do find your cat has excessive whisker loss, we recommend a trip to the vet. If you’d prefer to seek advice at home then you’re in luck as all Waggel members gain exclusive access to an online 24/7 vet service just by taking out a policy.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

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