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Whiskers Turning Black

February 21st, 2008, 11:46 AM
Hello, I have had cats all my life, my last one lived to 19 years old, but I have never seen anything like this. I have searched the internet for answers. I have a cat who is 2 years old. All his whiskers are white. When he was approx. eight months, one of his whiskers started turning black, from the inside(closest to his fur). The black slowly over weeks spreads down to the end of the whisker, till the whole whisker is almost all black, then it falls out. After he lost his first whisker, I thought maybe kittens loose their first whiskers, but then another one started. This happened a couple times then stopped. It recently has started again only more now. He had two whiskers on the right side of his cheek turning black, one fell out last weekend, so now he is down to one turning black. He also has one whisker above each eye turning black now. These ones above his eyes are extremely long whiskers. Has anyone ever heard of this? Is it normal for whiskers to slowly turn black and fall out? Any help would be appreciatated, thank-you.

February 21st, 2008, 12:27 PM
This happens to mine all the time, sometimes they are all white then the black creeps out then they are white again. I think they lose whiskers all the time, as evident by all the ones I find around the house. I'm sure it is nothing at all to fret about. They grow, fall out and new ones grow in.

February 21st, 2008, 12:40 PM
I have a dog who had all black whiskers but one of them is turning white (he's 2 yo).

It is normal for cat whiskers to fall out (I think). At least, it happens to my cats all the time, perhaps in the same way hairs are shed and grow back. Are they not hairs, however specialized?

The same things happen to the hairs on my head, in fact. Brown hair turns to white. Hairs fall out and fortunately grow back... if only I could get the white ones to grow back in brown!!

February 22nd, 2008, 01:18 AM
Yes it's normal, and cats do constantly lose their whiskers. Whiskers are a special kind of hair follicle, it grows just like hair but has more functions. The change in colour is not uncommon. My cat had all black whiskers when she was a kitten, then for years she had only 1 white whisker, she now has about 6 white whiskers. Some are full white, some are black @ the root & white on the tip half, the rest of her whiskers are all black. When she loses a white one it is more noticeable & take a little while before another white one replaces the one she lost.

Some info on cat whiskers:

A cat has about twenty-four movable whiskers, twelve on each side of its nose (some cat's may have more). Whiskers are more than twice as thick as ordinary hairs, and their roots are set three times deeper than hairs in a cat's tissue. Richly supplied with nerve endings, whiskers give cats extraordinarily detailed information about air movements, air pressure and anything they touch.

The scientific word for whiskers is vibrissae, a name that suggests their exquisite sensitivity to vibrations in air currents. As air swirls and eddies around objects, whiskers vibrate too. Cats use messages in these vibrations to sense the presence, size, and shape of obstacles without seeing or touching them. Whiskers are also good hunting tools. A cat whose whiskers have been damaged may bite the wrong part of a mouse it's attacking, indicating that signals from these delicate structures provide cats with vital information about the shape and activity of its prey - interestingly, whiskers also help cats smell odours.

Whiskers can also be a bother to a cat, especially if he tries to eat food out of a bowl. The end of the whiskers touching the side of the bowl transfer irritating sensations to his brain, making it hard for him to continue eating.

Whiskers are extremely sensitive as they are closely connected to the nervous system. Any damage to his whiskers will cause your cat discomfort, and he may become confused or disoriented. DON'T ever trim his whiskers, and DON'T ever wash them, he will keep them clean himself.

When kittens are cleaned by their mother, she may chew off some or all of the whiskers - don't worry, this is normal and they will soon grow back.

Cats also have a number of reinforced hairs similar to whiskers on other parts of their bodies: over the eyes, on the chin and at the back of the legs.

February 22nd, 2008, 07:47 AM
That's a great quote, growler. You're so resourceful!

Small change of subject, not to threadjack or anything, but has anyone ever noticed their cat's eyelashes? They're located in the same place as people eyelashes, right on the edge of the lid, and it's just fur that's a little longer than their regular face fur.
So cool! Although the cats don't really like it when I admire their eyelashes.:laughing: They're like, "WHAT?"