Maine Coon whiskers sit prominently on a cats face, and are not simply there for aesthetic reasons alone. Instead, they have many functional purposes too, which help your cat to hunt, explore and feed.
Maine Coons have the longest whiskers, of all cat breeds. Their whiskers are as wide as their body, and highly sensitive. Whiskers should never be trimmed since this is both harmful, and painful, to a Maine Coon. Deeply rooted within the skin, whiskers offer a mass of sensory information to cats, enabling them to effectively hunt and explore.
There’s more than meets the eye, when it comes to Maine Coon whiskers. Keep reading to discover everything there is to know about your cats precious whiskers.
How Many Whiskers Do Maine Coons Have?
If you look closely at your Maine Coon cat, you will notice that their whiskers are not only positioned either side of their nose. Instead, they also have other whiskers across their bodies!
The average cat has between 8 – 12 whiskers, which are located on either side of their nose. If you look a little closer at your feline friend, you will also be able to see shorter whiskers on the backs of their lower front legs, chin, and above their eyes (source).
Unfortunately, I have not been able to find specific information relating to the number of Maine Coon whiskers. I have made the assumption that this breeds whiskers are the same as other cat breeds you will encounter.
Why Do Maine Coons Have Whiskers?
If you’ve ever seen a Maine Coon cat, your attention was likely drawn towards their impressively long cat whiskers. Sitting prominently on the front of every Maine Coons regal looking face, owners would be forgiven for assuming that their Maine Coons whiskers are simply there to look good!
Take a look at the table below, which summarises the functional purpose of Maine Coon whiskers:
|Highly Sensitive||Whisker tips are very sensitive. Maine Coon can sense even slight changes in the wind|
|Help Cat Gauge Sizes||Cat uses whiskers to determine if they can fit through a doorway, or not|
|Help Cat Hunt||Maine Coons use their whiskers, to detect nearby prey|
As the table above shows, there are more to Maine Coon whiskers than you might first assume. So, let’s take a closer look at these fascinating facts in greater detail below:
1. Highly Sensitive
Maine Coon whiskers are extremely sensitive, since they are rooted deeply within the cats skin. The area where the whiskers grow also has an increased number of nerves and blood flow, which helps your feline sense even the slightest changes in the wind around them.
Highly sensitive whiskers are extremely beneficial for your feline friend, since it enables them to detect potential threats nearby, from predators. They also help to heighten the breeds hunting skills, because the Maine Coon is able to detect prey nearby.
2. Help Cat Gauge Sizes
A Maine Coons long whiskers are functionally important, since they help your cat determine whether they can fit through an opening, or not. This is particularly useful for cats, since these intelligent felines are then less likely to get stuck in a small space, which they cannot escape from.
If you own a Maine Coon cat, avoid feeding them from a narrow cat bowl. Feeding them from a bowl like this is advisable, since their whiskers are intrinsically linked to their nervous system, so pressure on them will cause ‘whisker stress’.
3. Help Cat Hunt
Maine Coon cats are well known for being excellent hunters, and this is partially thanks to their massive sensitive whiskers that help them detect nearby prey. Without whiskers, Maine Coons would struggle to sense prey, cats are unable to see things close up, due to their far-sighted eyes.
It is thought that the whiskers on the back of all cats front legs, further help them to hunt prey and climb.
Do Maine Coons Have Long Whiskers?
Maine Coon whiskers are usually as long, as your cat is wide. Their whiskers are therefore likely to be far longer than other normal cat breeds, since they are one of the largest cat breeds in the world, reaching anywhere up to 25 lbs in weight.
For more information on the size of Maine Coon cats, check out my article: ‘How Big Can A Maine Coon Cat Get?‘.
Longest Maine Coon Cat Whiskers
There is no single expected length for a Maine Coon cats whiskers, due to their varying physical proportions. However, this website claims some Maine Coon whiskers have been measured at an incredible 6.5 inches! They also claim Maine Coon whiskers are the longest, of all cat breeds. If this is correct, it isn’t too surprising since they are one of the largest domesticated cat breeds in the world.
What Does The Position Of Maine Coon Whiskers Tell Us?
If you watch your Maine Coon cat carefully, you will notice that they move their whiskers back and forth. The position of their whiskers signifies to owners what mood their cat is in.
The table below indicates what the position of a Maine Coons whiskers actually means (source):
|Whiskers flattened against cheeks||Maine Coon is scared, or angry|
|Whiskers stick out sideways, looking relaxed||Maine Coon is calm|
|Whiskers facing forwards||Maine Coon is alert and excited|
Owners should not rely completely on the position of their Maine Coon cats whiskers though. Instead, they should also take into consideration the cats overall body language, to fully gauge their cats emotions e.g. are their ears pulled back too?
Can I Touch My Cats Whiskers?
Due to the highly sensitive nature of Maine Coon whiskers, it is recommended that owners do not touch their cats long whiskers.
Owners touching their Maine Coons whiskers might actually be causing their treasured feline friend pain, without realising it. This is because the whiskers are deeply rooted within the cats skin, next to a high number of nerves.
Should You Cut Maine Coon Whiskers?
It is important that owners never trim, or cut, their Maine Coon cats whiskers. This is because trimming a cat’s whiskers, whatever the length, will cause them pain.
Cat specialists recommend that owners do not cut their cats whiskers, for the following reasons:
- Leads to confusion, and disorientation
- Causes them pain
- Loss of vital navigation abilities i.e. ability to sense size of opening
- No medical benefit
Do Maine Coon Whiskers Change Color?
Yes, they do! Just like a humans hair color changes as they age. Therefore, don’t be worried if you see your older Maine Coon beginning to grow white whiskers.
Do Maine Coons Shed Whiskers
All cats shed whiskers from time, to time. Provided your Maine Coon is in good health, these whiskers will naturally grow back in time.
Owners should expect to find their Maine Coon sheds between 2-3 whiskers at a time.
Maine Coon cats do not shed more whiskers, as they age.
Do Maine Coons Develop Whisker Fatigue?
Whisker fatigue occurs when a cat becomes overwhelmed by the sensory input received from all internal, and external sources.
Their massively sensitive whiskers flood them with information, without their control e.g. wind changes, or prey nearby. Some cats can find this information overload too much, and feel stressed (source).
Maine Coon Whisker Issues
There are a few health issues relating to a Maine Coons whiskers, that owners should watch out for. Keep reading to discover if you need to be worried, at all.
1. Why Are Maine Coon Whiskers Curling?
Maine Coon cats are not known for having curly whiskers, like some other cat breeds. Therefore, if their whiskers have recently begun to curl, first check that you are feeding your cat using an extra wide shallow bowl. If the issue continues, you might need to wait for your Maine Coon to shed their curly whiskers, and regrow straight ones.
2. Maine Coon Cat Whiskers Falling Out
Owners need not be too concerned, if they notice their Maine Coon cats whiskers falling out, because cats naturally shed 2-3 whiskers at a time. Shedding is completely normal, just like cat hair sheds. Whiskers will regrow, in time.
However, if you particularly concerned that your Maine Coon is losing too many whiskers, please contact your veterinary professional, to rule out underlying health causes. This is particularly important, should you also notice your Maine Coon has become lethargic, or lost their appetite.
Check out my article ‘Top 7 Maine Coon Health Issues‘, for more common health concerns to keep in mind, with this particular cat breed.
3. Maine Coons Whiskers Are Bent
A cat’s whiskers might become bent, if they are being fed from a narrow, deep bowl that bends their whiskers as they eat. To fix this issue, swap your bowl for an extra wide shallow cat food bowl, like this one.
Maine Coon whiskers are not only extremely cute, and loved for their aesthetic beauty. They are also important functional value too, since they help your cat navigate, and effectively hunt their prey.