Me and Ow here. We are guest writers for the week thanks to Watson. It is National Pain Awareness Month, and we would like to introduce our readers to a painful condition known as whisker fatigue.
We know that there will be disbelievers in whisker fatigue, but we are not making this up!
Whiskers are cute, but they are actually high-powered antennae that pull signals into our brain and nervous systems. At the base of our whiskers are proprioceptors that are ultra-sensitive sensory organs.
Proprioceptors tell us a lot about the world. They provide us with information that helps us manipulate the environment. Whiskers allow us move around in the dark to hunt fast-moving prey. They also let us know if we can squeeze into tight spots.
We can turn on the sensory focus of our whiskers when we want, but mostly they respond to our autonomic system, which we have no conscious control over. Try to imagine your brain being flooded with messages every time you contact an object or detect a movement. It is very stressful! Whisker fatigue is a term to describe this stress.
One theory about whisker fatigue is that the whiskers are constantly being stimulated even in the most common situations. Every time our whiskers touch the sides of our food or water bowl we get bombarded with messages, which in turn causes overload.
The Me and Ow method to bring this to our mom’s attention is to push all the food out of our bowl, so we don’t have to put our head into the dish. Fortunately, it worked and we now have flat plates. Instead of a water dish, we lap water from a cat fountain.
Luckily, preventing stress related to whisker fatigue is as easy as replacing your cat’s food and water bowls. Provide wide-enough bowls so that whiskers don't touch the sides and supply a fresh water source for drinking. Problem solved!
Me and Ow
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