Can You Trim Cat Whiskers? (Important Facts)

If you want to trim your cat’s whiskers, you can, but you shouldn’t. Like other hairs on your pet’s body, whiskers also shed and grow back if you cut it. Still, it would be best if you never trimmed it. Doing so will make your cat disoriented and even scared. The reason is that it’s one of their ways to navigate around.

Your pet’s whiskers are more than a unique and exciting facial feature. It works as a tool for them to sense things around, making them easily navigate.

At the same time, it also coordinates their movements to have an outstanding balance.

Aside from these things, whiskers serve more purpose to cats than just a display. Thus, cutting it either accidentally or intentionally can cause them harm.

Let’s get into it more!

Do cat whiskers hurt when cut?

It does not hurt cats if you cut their whiskers. Thus, if you’re worried about breaking your cat by doing so, it won’t.

Cat whiskers don’t have nerves in it like other hairs. Of course, if you pluck it out, it will be quite painful. The reason is that a cat’s hair follicles have lots of nerves.

Now, it doesn’t mean that you can cut your pet’s whiskers just because it won’t hurt them.

True enough, it won’t hurt your pet, but doing so can make your cat disoriented and lose balance.

If you cut it by accident, then don’t worry. It did not hurt your cat. However, you should expect it to be distant from you. It can also make your pet roam around and lose balance.

In simple terms, cutting the whiskers is like putting a blindfold on your pet. As I said earlier, it’s one of their instruments of navigation.

Now, what exactly is the whisker’s purpose?

Four functions of cat whiskers

Cutting a cat whisker produces a lot of adverse effects on your pet. To understand it further, you should know the purpose of a cat whisker.

Here are four reasons why whiskers are essential in a cat and why you shouldn’t cut it.

Whiskers act as body balancers.

The ends of the whiskers have these so-called proprioceptors. These are some particular sensory organs that help felines move around.

These organs send messages to the brain about the position of the body and limbs. Its purpose is to keep the cat aware of what its body parts are doing in simple terms.

If you would observe it, cats always land correctly on their feet, no matter what height they jumped. They can even run in narrow paths correctly without slipping. It’s all thanks to the whiskers.

Whiskers act as radar sensors.

Cats are famous for their great smell and hearing senses. However, their vision isn’t that great.

Felines see better at a certain distance. However, they find it difficult to focus on nearby objects. Through their whiskers, cats can sense even the things underneath their noses.

A cat, approaching something in his path, stirs up air currents that bounce back if hit by solid objects. Their whiskers act like radar detectors that determine faint vibrations.

In the wild, these long hairs can identify the presence of prey nearby. Further, it can also detect potential enemies and even their pack.

In captivity, whiskers help cats locate food bowls and toys even at night.

With the whiskers, they can navigate through the night without bumping into any object around.

Whiskers respond to their emotions.

Whiskers somehow mirror how cats feel. If a cat is taking a break, the hairs do as well. If they are active and playful, these whiskers rise as well.

When a cat is happy or curious, the whiskers automatically elevate above his eyes. Thus, it produces that famous cute, wide-eyed appearance we usually see.

However, if a cat feels threatened, it pulls the whiskers on the muzzle taut. It flairs the hairs and directs them toward the potential threat.

Whiskers act as protectors.

Whiskers are quite sensitive that they respond even to the smallest particles.

Even if it’s a speck of dust, as long as it touched the whisker, a cat will blink or even shake its head to put it off.

With such a reaction, the whiskers protect the eye since even the smallest particles can harm it.

When playing outdoors, the whiskers also guard the eye against getting poked by grass as it walks.

Further, these long and sensitive hairs also prevent felines from getting stuck. Typically, cats encounter small or narrow passages from time to time. In these instances, the whiskers help them judge if they can pass through it or not.

With such a powerful technique, cats almost always keep themselves out of trouble. It’s also a good trait that makes them great hunters.

Now that we have understood the purpose of a cat whisker let’s see what happens if we cut these hairs.

cat whiskers

What happens if you cut cat whiskers?

If you cut your cat’s whiskers, it will lose all its functions that can take a toll on your pet.

True enough, a lost whisker will grow back eventually. However, losing even a single one can already take a toll on your pet. Thus, you can say that cutting it is like losing one of your fingers.

Here are some probable effects that can happen to your cat if you cut its whiskers:

Your cat will lose balance.

Taking away the whiskers means you also remove one of their primary navigation tools.

Since whiskers help them balance, your cat may fall off and become disoriented.

It won’t be able to run swiftly and with finesse. Instead, it’ll seem a bit groggy.

It’s also possible that your pet won’t land perfectly on its feet.

If your pet is a jumper, make sure it doesn’t jump from a height.

Your cat will be clumsy and disoriented.

Since whiskers act as radar sensors, your pet may find it hard to navigate and detect nearby objects. Thus, it may be a little bit disoriented and even clumsy.

We all know how cats run and walk without damaging anything. Removing the whiskers takes that ability away.

Your cat may get angry with you.

Cutting off the whiskers may make your cat distant from you or from the one who cut it.

Worse, it can even get angry and hiss at you. Whiskers play an essential role in their daily activities.

Thus, taking it away can affect how they act and can make them aggressive.

In general, your cat may lose the sense of control in its movement. Thus, it’ll have trouble walking straight and may even find it impossible to run.

Cutting the whiskers isn’t exactly painful. However, your cat’s reaction may seem like it does. The reason is that it’s more of losing one of its senses than just getting a wound.

Thus, it would be best to keep in mind that you should help your pet protect it instead of cutting the whiskers.

Is it illegal to cut a cat’s whiskers?

There’s no particular law that includes cutting a cat’s whisker illegal. However, there’s such a thing as animal cruelty. Thus, cutting such sensitive hair is akin to hurting your pet.

You may not get arrested by cutting your cat’s whisker in particular. Still, you can get sued for hurting an animal.

It’s also one important thing to remember with your pet. Just like you, no one else should cut a cat’s whiskers.

If you’re giving your pet a trim, be cautious not to include the whiskers. Even if it eventually grows back, your pet still shouldn’t have its whiskers cut.

Moreover, if you touch its whiskers, do it the gentlest way possible to avoid an adverse reaction.

How long for cat whiskers to grow back?

In general, it would take an average of 2 to 3 months for a set of whiskers to grow back. It also varies in age, being longer than three months for senior cats.

Other pet owners report having their cats’ whiskers growing back in just as short as four weeks.

It will also depend on how long the cut part was. It will take a while if it gets plucked out. Or, it may only be soon if it gets only a trim.

Whatever the case is, you should always avoid such unwanted incidents from happening.

Letting your cat’s whiskers get trimmed can lead to more harm for your pet.

If you want to read more, check out if cat whiskers grow back.

Do cat’s whiskers grow back if burned?

Whiskers can still grow back even if it gets burned. However, that will only be applicable if the skin where the whisker’s roots stay unburned.

Like us, our hair grows back even if it gets burned. Still, it’s only possible if the skin where it grows remains untouched.

If the skin gets burned, the pores might close, preventing the hair from growing back.

If your cat’s facial skin gets burned, it’s less likely that the whiskers will grow back.

What to do if you accidentally cut a cat’s whiskers?

Accidents happen every time, and you can’t help it if you are trimming your cat. Now, if you did it by accident, then there’s no need to worry since it’ll grow back.

Of course, your pet will react to it and may get distant from you.

In general, there’s nothing you can do about the whiskers aside from waiting for it to grow back.

Still, what you can do is help your pet cat by being its guide since it’s lost one of its senses.

Since your pet will be a bit more clumsy and disoriented, it would be best not to allow it outside to play.

Your pet may get distant and even angry with you. Don’t worry about that if it happens.

The best thing you can do is leave your cat for a while and let it cope up independently. It will come back to you once it gets used again.

The important thing here is that you should be there to guide your cat since it’ll be a bit more out of tune.


A cat’s whisker is something that serves a lot of purposes, and it’s not just another facial feature you can cut whenever you feel like doing so.

As pet owners, it’s our responsibility to take care of our pets, and we’ll fail if we decide to cut those hairs. Of course, it can happen by accident. However, when it does, we should be there for our pets as support.

This way, our cats won’t be in further harm just because it has lost a whisker.


Image credits – Canva, Wikimedia

[1] Whiskers – Wikipedia

[2] Why Do Cats Have Whiskers? – WebMD

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