I’m fairly knowledgeable when it comes to all things cats, but when I first heard about ‘whisker fatigue’ I thought it was just another clever marketing gimmick to help drive sales of designer cat food bowls. I’ve since realised there’s more to it than that.
Whilst a cat’s whiskers are essentially just thick, long hairs that protrude from the sides of their face what makes them special and ultra-sensitive is the fact there is a sensory organ called a proprioceptor at the end of each whisker, which sends messages to the cat’s brain and nervous system.
A cat’s whiskers are so sensitive that they can detect movements in the air — sensing the size and shape of nearby objects before they reach them. This allows a cat to sense and navigate around a piece of furniture in a room in the dark of night, judge tight spaces and whether they’ll fit, and sense the outline of prey when hunting to capture and kill in the most effective way (even it’s only a toy mouse in the comfort of your lounge room).
Whiskers are vitally important to your cat, so if they get damaged, fatigued or become stressed by coming into frequent contact with a surface such as the side of a food bowl during meal times it can cause huge discomfort. This can quickly turn meal times from a pleasurable experience for your cat into a stressful and painful situation. A water bowl with high sides can cause the same problem for cats that suffer from whisker fatigue.
Signs of Whisker Fatigue
If your cat exhibits any of the following behaviours at meal times, whisker fatigue could be the problem:
- Paws or pulls food out of the bowl before eating from the floor
- Makes a huge food mess on the floor
- Leaves food in the bowl but still seems to be hungry
- Eats only from the centre of the bowl
- Hesitates before eating – stands near the bowl or paces around the outside
- Insists that the bowl be filled to the brim when it’s not empty
- Behaves aggressively towards other pets at meal times.
Preventing Whisker Fatigue
Cats are known for their finicky eating habits. Often we assume that when a cat isn’t eating at meal times, the problem is the food. But sometimes, and especially if your cat is showing signs of whisker fatigue, the problem could be the food bowl.
Preventing whisker fatigue is simple, you just need to minimise any contact between food and water bowls and your cat’s whiskers. Opt for wide and shallow bowls that allow your cat to eat and drink comfortably rather than deep bowls that force your cat’s whiskers into uncomfortable contact with the bowl as he eats or drinks.
There are many pet food bowls on the market that can help alleviate whisker fatigue or you could simply feed your cat from a ceramic plate or saucer. Personally, we prefer stainless steel food bowls for our cats because they’re easy to clean and dishwasher safe. Amber eats from a low and flat stainless steel bowl by Dr Catsby that is specifically designed with sloping sides to keep the food in the centre and prevent whisker fatigue.
Have you noticed signs of whisker fatigue in your cat? What type of food bowl does your cat prefer to eat from?
WIN a Dr Catsby’s Bowl for Whisker Relief
Pawesome Cats readers can enter to WIN their own Dr Catsby’s Bowl for Whisker Relief, valued at USD $19.99. Enter via the Rafflecopter entry form below.
- There are three (3) Dr Catsby’s Whisker Relief Bowls available.
- The giveaway is open to residents in the United States only.
- The winner will be announced on this page and contacted by the email provided.
- If not claimed within 3 days, the prize will be redrawn.
DISCLOSURE: We received a complimentary Dr Catsby’s Bowl for review. Our opinions and reviews of products and services are never influenced by monetary or other compensation we may receive. We only recommend products we believe are relevant to our readers.