Is Whisker Fatigue Real?

Is Whisker Fatigue Real?

In the field of veterinary medicine, some evidence is scientific and some are anecdotal.

Especially regarding cats, science and anecdotal information often clash.

For example, many cat owners fear contracting Toxoplasma gondii.

However, scientific studies show Toxoplasma gondii is only a risk for pregnant women with no history of infection, babies under 6 months old and household members with compromised immune systems from cancer treatment, transplant therapy or infections like H.I.V.

So what about whisker fatigue?

What Is Whisker Fatigue?

It do not have a scientific diagnosis.

However, anecdotally, cat owners and some veterinarians describe the phenomenon as stress caused by the interaction between a cat’s whiskers and his or her food bowl.

Why do cats experience this?

Cat whiskers are like antennae giving the cat’s brain and nervous system important signals regarding spacial awareness.

The whiskers send signals through proprioceptors, which are sensitive sensory organs at the base of the whiskers.

The information from whiskers helps cats move in dark spaces, hunt prey and fit into tight spaces.

During meal times, whisker fatigue causes cats to paw food on the floor, appear anxious at mealtime or fight with other cats.

Has Science Proven their Existence?

No, science has not yet proven the existence of whisker fatigue.

The New York Times recently published an article on this, which caused other publications, such as Boston Magazine, to call out their reporting.

The New York Times did not cite studies or quote veterinarians.

Has Anecdotal Evidence Proved the Existence of Whisker Fatigue?

Anecdotally, many cat parents experience it with their furry friends.

Although scientific studies have not proven it, some cat parents solve their cat’s food anxiety by providing him or her with a wider bowl or flat plate.

How to Address This Issue?

First and foremost, take your cat to the veterinarian if he or she experiences problems eating.

If your veterinarian rules out health problems, consider a solution related to whisker fatigue.

Provide your cat with a wide bowl or flat plate.

If changing the bowl helps, perhaps the anecdotal evidence is right!

Sometimes we just want relief for our pets.

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