Help Your Cat Avoid “Whisker Stress”
A cat has approximately 12 whiskers arranged in neat horizontal rows on each side of the face. These whiskers, also known as “vibrissae” are very sensitive, and provide sensory feedback about the environment to your cat. The whiskers are deeply-rooted and rich in blood vessels and nerve endings which provide your cat with information about surrounding objects and air movement; this assists your cat in navigation and in judging the width of an opening.
Because a cat’s whiskers are so exquisitely sensitive, if your cat’s food or water bowl are narrow enough that his whiskers touch the sides of the bowl, it can be very irritating to your cat. In fact, you might think your cat is being finicky with his food when your cat actually has a problem with the feeding dish, not the food itself. If you have ever observed your cat using his paw to scoop out the food, this is another sign that your cat could be experiencing whisker stress. Similarly, many cats fed from a deep, round bowl will only graze on the top layer of food avoiding the food on the bottom because of the more steeply-pitched sides of the dish.
Luckily, the solution to whisker stress is simple: feed your cat from wide, shallow food dishes. There are many cat food dishes designed specifically to reduce or eliminate whisker stress, or you can simply feed your cat from a wide, shallow dish, a saucer or even a paper plate.