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What is Whisker Stress?

Posted by Jennifer on April 30th, 2012

Do you have or have you seen a cat that doesn’t want to eat their kibble in their bowl, preferring to pull it out one piece at a time with their paw, then eating it off the counter or floor? Or maybe a cat that only seems to like to eat the top layer of food out of her bowl, acting like she needs to get a refill, even when there is still plenty of morsels left on the bottom of her dish? You may be witnessing Whisker Stress!

Cat’s whiskers are very sensitive. Whiskers are rooted very deep in the cat’s face, in an area rich in nerves and blood vessels. Cats use their whiskers to move around in low or no light without bumping into anything — not like feelers, but they actually are so sensitive that they detect how currents of air move around objects in their path, and use that sensory information to avoid the objects! The tips are also sensitive to pressure, so a cat uses them to judge if their body will fit through an opening. That is why you should never trim a cat’s whiskers!

So imagine what forcing those delicate instruments into a food dish must feel like. Ouch! The good news is that cat-friendly designers have come up with lots of beautiful flat feline feeding dishes to help your cat avoid whisker stress. They look like elegant serving platters, wide and shallow, with plenty of room for your kitty to pick up the food with their mouth, without their whiskers touching anything.

I first learned about Whisker Stress from reading about it on the ModernCat.net blog here back in 2007, and they recently featured a new fancy whisker stress-free feeding bowl here. You can also improvise with human ceramic food dishes to accomplish the same effect, you may just have to search around a little for ones that are the right size and shape to prevent kibble scatter while being flat enough to fit your cat’s whiskers!
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