A Pet’s Mustache


“How about getting my dog a new look by trimming this mustache or plucking it?”

“My cat refuses to eat its favorite food, although I have just bought it an attractive deep food plate.”

“My pet looks scared and confused after removing its mustache, etc.”

These sound like different situations and stories, but somehow they are all related. It is a myth that a pet’s mustache is like a human mustache and can be trimmed or cut without causing the animal any problem; as a matter of fact, this will drive the animal into a stressful state. Those tiny stiff hairs found around the pets’ mouths are not just hairs or resemble mustache man’s facial hair. They are whiskers, which are rigid hairs, three times thicker than normal hair. They can be found on the two sides of an animal’s muzzle, which is the protruded part of the face that contains the nose and mouth, on the back of the limbs, above the eyes, and on the chin. Your pet can move its whiskers as they are connected to muscles; also their arrangement can say something about the pet’s mood. One whisker can normally shed leaving others to do the job till it regrows back.

Whiskers, also known as vibrissae, are well fixed and connected to the animal’s nervous system with a sensory organ found on their tips called proprioceptor. They act like antennae that allow the animal to know distances and directions. Once the whiskers touch something or even sense air movements around them, they send signals to the brain to transmit it into an action; like get closer or move away. They also help them in hunting fast-moving preys by feeling the air current changes.

Muzzle whiskers are about twelve on each side and are considered the longest. Moreover, they are of the same width as the cat’s body, helping them recognize whether they would fit to enter any narrow space or not; whiskers on the back of the legs help animals climb trees.

Whiskers can help a blind cat walk in a room without hitting objects around by feeling how far they are. The same occurs when a cat tries to eat from a deep narrow plate; its whiskers hit the plate’s wall causing a pressure on this sensitive area. This is called whiskers’ stress, which results in many physical and mental disorders. You will notice that the animal will refuse to eat, or it will try to scoop food out of the plate by its forelimbs, or it will just keep pacing around the plate confused and afraid to get closer. What happens is that the animal focuses on eating, but it keeps hitting its whiskers on the wall of the plate many times. This sends many signals to the brain and stresses the animals; it is better to put your pet’s food in a wide shallow plate.

Cutting, trimming, or plucking those whiskers will leave the animal under unwanted stress and discomfort. If you want to give your pet a new look, trim any part of its hair but never touch those whiskers.




Top image: Dog nose created by frimufilms. Credit: Freepik.

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