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Vibrissae. That is the technical name for a cat's whiskers. These amazing whiskers are not what you think. They are not fancy decorations, or just facial hair growth. They are embedded quite deeply into the cat and reach the muscular and nervous systems, providing a truly remarkable sense of their surroundings. Did you ever wonder how your cat can find his way around in the the dark when you are stumbling until you see the night light? Her whiskers tell her everything she needs to know. They are extremely sensitive and you may also notice some sticking up like eyebrows. They are extremely sensitive. If you didn't know this before, I want to you to know it now because, as a cat owner, you must be aware of their sensitivity in order to keep kitty happy and healthy. The position of your cat's whiskers will also tell you what her mood is like. If she's chasing a toy or another cat around the house, you'll see that her whiskers are forward, as they will be when she's startled. When she's relaxed, her whiskers will be in a normal position.
|Photo Courtesy of Lisette Brodey|
What has made me even more aware of this sensitivity and the thought that my readers might not understand, was a recent trip to my local pet supply store, part of a large National chain. I was buying food for Aimee and as I came around the aisle, I saw and end cap display of cat dishes. The problem with this prominent display is that there were only a couple of dishes - almost the entire display consisted of bowls, may of them with cat designs on them. Innocent owners buy them without knowing that that's the last thing you should buy for your cat. It's nearly impossible to find a photo of a proper feeding dish for a cat. They are almost exclusively bowls. Why is this wrong?
|Photo Courtesy of Claire Clayton|
Cats are not dogs. Dogs do very well eating from a bowl. Cats, however, find their very sensitive whiskers rubbing against the bowl with every mouthful of food. Is it any wonder that some of these cats scoop out the food with their paw and put it on the floor to eat? Owners think this is some sort of cat trick, or a weird idiosyncrasy. No, it's not. The cat cannot be comfortable eating from a bowl. Imagine having something hurt you every time you ate. You wouldn't be very happy, would you? It puts stress on the cat.
The correct feeding dish for a cat is wider and has very low sides, or you can use a plate. Plates don't have to match your dinnerware. You can find perfectly acceptable plates in discount stores. Be sure that they are safe for you cat.
As for the water dish, a neighbor recently asked me why Aimee's dish could be a swimming pool for a cat whose weight hovers between 8 and 9 pounds. Simple: whisker stress. So what if it was meant for a big dog? She loves it. The same with a water fountain. The big one is preferable to a small one for a cat's whiskers.
|Photo Courtesy of Shara Rendell-Smock|
And one more warning: Do NOT ever cut your cat's whiskers! Don't interfere with feline whiskers. You can look, you can admire them, but for cat's sake, leave them alone!
Now for the winners of last week's contest
Each has won one of Morris The Cat's Well-Groomed Kitty Kits Provided by Morris and his human friends at 9 Lives Cat Food!
Drum Roll Please!
And The Winners Are:
Congratulations, Ladies! Please e-mail me via my website: www.darlenearden.com with your mailing address so Morris can have his personal assistants get a kit off to each of you! Thank you for entering the contest!!