I remember a long time ago seeing something on tv with a cat walking across a beam, then they cut off his whiskers and he kept falling off. I don't think they're THAT important, and think I've read things saying they don't affect balance... but still. Why do it anyway?
I wouldn't do it, save for some bizarre medical reason. Cats' whiskers are important to help them better understand their environment and surroundings ("hmm...can I fit through this opening?")...not to mention communication (I use them a lot as a factor in understanding my cat's body language).
I was examining a cat one day and there was just something funny looking about it. I couldn't figure it out. I finally noticed that his whiskers had been "trimmed" to be even with his cheeks. The lady was foreign and thought it looked "cute". I hope I dissuaded her...I was so shocked that anyone would even consider this, I may not have been my most diplomatic!
Several good reasons have been brought up, but one more is that the sensory cells at the base of each whisker are highly specialized and exquisitely sensitive. With the whiskers blunted instead of tapering to that fine, delicate point, each time he bumped up against something, it must have been a very strange and unpleasant sensation, like having a stick jammed into your cheek!
BTW, identical cells are found around the base of each claw -- another reason NOT to declaw!!
Very nice to know the info about the claws. I always heard the "inhumane" argument but never heard any other technical or medical reasoning. This will be good ammo to use when someone doesn't seem to understand that cats NEED their claws. That's the way they come! Take it or leave it.
just out of curiosity, about how much would it cost to have a cat declawed? I only ask because Addison had his front ones removed before I adopted him, and his previous family claimed they couldn't afford a cat anymore. I was just wondering how much it cost because they didn't seem to mind paying for the procedure!
There was a kitten that came in to the place I volunteer with its whiskers only about a centimeter long. His foster parents had no idea how it happened, but they said that his littermates liked to pick on him. Maybe they bit his whiskers off
When we got Sam and Suzy I noticed that Suzy's whiskers were shorter, some even broken off. I think it's because of rough play, but I'm not sure. Now they are growing out, slowly. But I think it does affect the balance since Sam was a lot more balanced and had more cordination than Suzy when they got here, now she's getting better and judges distance as well as him.
I thought whiskers fell out and grew back all the time. At least, I hope they are supposed to....otherwise, I'll have to take another look at Kitty when I get home. Because I've been finding whiskers around the house occasionally for the past 5 years...