Is Whisker Fatigue in Cats Really a ‘Thing?

This article in the New York Times about kitties having “whisker fatigue” during eating may sound a bit new-agey, but does a wonderful job of acknowledge the sensitivity of a cat’s whiskers — and the insult to our cats when we ask them to eat out of bowls that do not recognize the actual physical reality of their faces!

What’s So Important About a Cat’s Whiskers?

The 411 on a cat’s whiskers is that they are super-sensitive, finely-tuned instruments that help a cat feel his way in the dark, get vital information on the movement of prey, and receive facts about his environment. In my The Cat Bible: Everything Your Can Expects You to Know, I have a pretty thorough section describing all the little miracles that make up the feline body and physical abilities, with their whiskers right up on that list. This article shows the species-inappropriateness of putting down a bowl for an animal whose face is not “designed” for that space (especially the flat-faced Persians and Ragdolls, or mixes of those breeds).

A Chance to Remind You About “Kitty Crack”

As always, I’m looking for “teachable moments” to remind people that cats are “obligate carnivores,” who should be eating a wet protein diet. Please look for the best quality canned food you can afford for your cat, with the lowest carbohydrate content, keeping in mind that generally speaking any wet food respects a cat’s true dietary needs more than even the costliest dry food. Weruva’s cans and pouches of cat food are all made in human food facilities so have optimum ingredients and savory aromas! Halo makes many different styles of canned food, with an admirable one being their pate-style food that has as little as 3-4% carbohydrates, a remarkable achievement! And Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat has recently developed a line of “Clean Protein” cat foods, including a dry food that respects the cat’s natural diet by sourcing the protein from meat, not plant ingredients.

What’s Better Than a Bowl?

The New York Times article above is good because it highlights yet another way in which “cats are not little dogs.” However, I do wish that to explore this issue the journalist, Jennifer A. Kingson, had interviewed some feline specialists or behaviorists about whisker fatigue/bowl feeding rather than designers and purveyors of cat bowls, since they clearly have a vested interest in selling their products!

And kitty crack is also part of the answer since feeding dry food requires a bowl or the little pieces will scatter all over the place. You don’t need any sort of bowl if you’re feeding wet food: a small saucer is the perfect flat serving vessel or some people use small paper plates and throw them away. Whether you use a bread plate or one of the saucers from under tea or coffee cups, your kitty can put her face right down on the food and eat the wet, high protein food nature intended for her. And her whiskers remain unchallenged!

—Tracie Hotchner

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photo credit: Marcy Leigh Frankie Cat via photopin (license)