It is desirable that the cat’s mustache remains intact. This attribute is not there to look pretty. Each hair is a organ sensory in its own right, absolutely essential for the kitty in many circumstances. This is why it is essential to teach children as early as possible not to cut their cat’s vibrissae. But it happens that a few hairs fall spontaneously and even a cat can lose its mustache on part of its muzzle. Let’s see what can be the causes, what impact it can have for the animal, and let’s take the opportunity to evoke this famous ” mustache fatigue Which we have been talking about for some time.
Cat’s mustache: a sensory organ
A cat’s mustache is made up of 16 to 24 hairs or vibrissae. Each vibrisse, more or less long depending on the breed, has at its end a sensory organ allowing the small feline:
- To express certain emotions such as fear (flat mustache), curiosity (erect whiskers),
- To communicate with his fellows,
- To find the balance,
- To find one’s way in space,
- To measure the wind speed, which is particularly useful for him before making a jump,
- To remotely detect the contours of a prey,
- To find one’s way in the dark and to avoid obstacles,
- Evaluate the width of a passage before taking it to ensure that it will not get stuck …
In terms of importance, the mustache represents the third sensory organ of the cat.
Falling cat mustache: the different causes
Owners who are aware of the importance of vibrissae for cats are generally very worried as soon as their little companion loses a mustache hair. Before rushing to the vet, it is helpful to identify the cause, because in some cases this vibrissus drop is quite normal.
So don’t worry if it’s a old mustache hair which will eventually grow back in 8 to 12 weeks, or even a little longer if the cat is old. The vibrissae know cycles like our hair, eyelashes and eyebrows … We can also see that in autumn, while moult is important, the kitty may lose several mustache hairs which should therefore be replaced by new ones before spring.
On the other hand, the fall of the vibrissae is sometimes abnormal and do not hesitate to consult the vet if :
- The vibrissae bend or even break,
- The cat loses its mustache unilaterally (i.e. the hair only falls on one side of the muzzle),
- The cat has lost all of his mustache.
This may be the consequence of a health problem. Generally, the cat presents different symptoms that should alert its breeder, namely:
- Skin problems,
- Weight loss,
- Great fatigue,
- A disinterest in the game,
- The tarnishing of his bag,
- A change in their feces and / or urine …
Some pathological causes can explain that a cat loses its vibrissae in an abnormal way. It could for example be:
- From a problem of allergy to a material, to dust, to pollens or to a food allergy,
- From a parasitic infestation,
- From an excess of stress,
- From a nutritional deficiency,
- From a disease that only additional examinations can diagnose.
What about “mustache fatigue”?
For some time now, we have heard frequently about this famous “mustache fatigue”. It is a serious subject which indicates a bad state (or the fall) of the hairs of a cat’s mustache following too many signals sent to the nervous system and at brain by the vibrissae.
This problem which can be considered as a information overload would be common in cats who eat or drink from too narrow a bowl. This leads to very frequent or even continuous contact (or friction) of these sensory organs against the container.
Cats who have this type of bowl are generally embarrassed by the unpleasant side of the sensation they perceive and are increasingly stressed out. They become anxious or nervous when it comes to eating or drinking. Some find a solution, such as putting croquettes or bites on the ground before eating them. Unfortunately, other cats do not resort to this subterfuge, preferring to sulk their meal rather than having to undergo this torture again due to the incessant brushing of their vibrissae against the edges of a too cramped bowl.
“Mustache fatigue” leading to a significant stress in many cats, it could also ultimately explain the loss of vibrissae in some small felines. If you observe your cat when it eats, you can very quickly realize that its bowl is not suitable for it because:
- He eats only what is in the middle of his bowl,
- He remains planted in front of his bowl but does not touch his food,
- He only comes to eat if his bowl is full, but is content with a few bites,
- He lets himself die of thirst while there is still a little water at the bottom of his bowl.
When a cat systematically disperses food all around his bowl, before thinking that he is eating badly, the owner should therefore be keen on hearing it. So that the problem disappears quickly and that his little companion regains his serenity, it suffices to offer him a container simply large enough so that the kitty vibrissae are no longer in permanent contact with the edge.