When the whiskers break off in the cat, it is often only noticed when they are very pronounced. But what is behind it?
This is not so easy to answer, because many reasons can be responsible for it. It is a reason for concern in any case.
Therefore you should control environment and nutrition as well as visit a veterinarian. In this guide, we will show you what is important.
In this article you will learn which reasons are possible for the whiskers to break off and why it is a disadvantage for the cat. We also tell you important information about the whiskers and their function.
Why do whiskers break off in cats?
There are various reasons for this – and: not always do the vibrissae, as the tactile hairs are also called, really break off.
Even if you notice a kink or see a blunt tip beforehand, another reason may be responsible. But more on that later.
First, here are the most common causes of broken whiskers:
Contact with zinc oxide
Biotin deficiency as a cause for broken whiskers
If your cat’s vibrissae are breaking off, it may be due to an insufficient supply of biotin.
It belongs to the B vitamins and is also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H. It is significantly involved in the formation and maintenance of healthy hair, skin and nails.
If it is lacking, hair and nails become brittle and the skin cracked. Especially during growth, but also during pregnancy and the coat change, the vital substance plays a decisive role and is needed in larger quantities.
An undersupply leads to the rapid breaking off of vibrissae under the slightest stress. In addition, they often grow back weaker and finer and with a delay.
Malnutrition or deficiency symptoms as a reason for breaking off vibrissae in cats
There are numerous causes for malnutrition or undernourishment in cats. These include:
ailments in the area of the teeth
In addition, cats are picky by nature. What is devoured today, is tomorrow uninteresting.
If an animal had few reserves or was fed incorrectly, deficiency symptoms are not uncommon.
Even high-quality food can be insufficient, if it is offered in too small quantities, the cat does not take it up or the feeding turns out to be one-sided.
Another problem is that many types of food have only a low content of biotin. However, you can change this by a simple addition.
You should also take into account that malnutrition is not always accompanied by (visible) underweight.
There can be other signs besides the breaking whiskers. These are:
significantly reduced defecation
increased susceptibility to infections
poorly healing wounds
All of these can potentially be deficiency symptoms that manifest themselves in a variety of ways.
Contact with zinc oxide as a cause
Zinc oxide is toxic to cats. If they have contact with it, for example in the form of ointments or oxidized zinc, this can cause symptoms of poisoning and deficiencies.
This can manifest itself, among other things, in the increased breaking off of the vibrissae.
The prevention is very simple.
This applies at least with pure apartment attitude. Because what your cat comes into contact with and what it has access to, you can easily control here.
Treat broken whiskers
If the whiskers of your velvet paw break off, the cause must first be investigated.
This requires an examination by a veterinarian. Is your cat getting enough nutrients and calories? A blood count, palpation and other tests, if necessary, will provide information.
Has she possibly had contact with zinc oxide and even ingested it? If so, there may be poisoning and associated deficiencies of various important vital nutrients.
With the right therapy, the hair will grow back stronger as soon as the cause is eliminated.
Prevent breakage of the whiskers
Preventing the breakage of the vibrissae is possible through a species-appropriate, healthy and balanced feeding as well as a cat-safe home.
Against the biotin deficiency it helps if you add brewer’s yeast to the food once or twice a week. For a general deficiency, high-calorie paste for cats or vitamin pastes for cats may prove useful.
Discuss these supplements with your veterinarian to avoid risking oversupply. Because such a supply can also have a negative effect on the health of the animal.
A special case: When whiskers are chewed off
Whiskers that appear to be broken off are not always really broken off. If you keep several cats, it is possible that the hairs have been chewed off.
This can also be observed in mother cats, for example. They trim the tactile hairs so that the young do not move so far away from the nest.
However, this also occurs rarely and is therefore a special case.
Watch your animals closely when they groom each other. If you notice that one cat chews the hair of the other, you can exclude health causes for the hair breakage.
What are the disadvantages of broken whiskers for cats?
Cats use their whiskers for orientation. They can use them to sense subtle air currents, find their way around better in the dark, and even get help climbing by using tactile hairs outside their face.
Depending on the breed and the individual, as well as the habitat, the vibrissae are very important for some cats, while for others they hardly play a role.
Whiskers that are cut or broken off can no longer perform their functions. If only one or two hairs are affected, this is not problematic.
If it spreads more strongly, on the other hand, you must take countermeasures quickly, especially with free-rangers.
This is always important, because in most cases there is a health problem behind the hair breakage. This can spread to much more than the whiskers and must therefore be treated quickly.
When the whiskers break off
If you notice several broken whiskers again and again, you should immediately consult a veterinarian.
This is because deficiency symptoms are always a cause for concern and can be attributed to an underlying disease, among other things.
An adjustment of the diet and if necessary medicinal treatment or the administration of supplements is usually necessary.
Unless the vibrissae have been chewed off by another cat, breaking off is always a sign of a problem. You should take this seriously.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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