Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?


The Cat’s Whiskers

black_cat_white_whiskers

Those stiff hairs on your cat’s face and legs don’t just add to her cuteness — they have real work to do. Whiskers are GPS and radar systems for your cat.
They are a powerful and important part of how a cat senses the world.

 

How They Work

Each thick whisker is filled with tiny, super sensitive nerves that help cats judge distance and space. It is how they makes decisions like: Is this box too small to get inside? How far do I need to jump to reach that counter? It is also how they detect what is around them. Cats that are blind can navigate rooms very well by just walking around and letting their whiskers get a sense of where they are spatially.

cat-jumping

The follicles, the sacs that hold the hairs, are deep, with lots of nerve endings that send messages to the cat’s brain.
There is also a sensory organ at the tip of each whisker. It picks up vibrations in the environment that help the cat sense where she is and what other creatures are around her.

Most whiskers are rooted in the thick pads on the upper lip, but smaller sets are in the eyebrow area, along the chin, and near the feet.
The ones on the sides of the nose are the same width as your cat’s body; they help her figure out whether a space is wide enough to squeeze through.
Whiskers on the back of the legs help your cat climb trees.

 

hunting cat

What’s Your Cat’s Mood? Watch Her Whiskers

A complex set of muscles on the face moves whiskers back and forth.
The way a cat arranges them will tell another animal, or us humans, how they are feeling. When a cat is relaxed, its whiskers will remain still, sticking straight out from the side of the head. If they are curious or are on the hunt, they will press them slightly forward. Cats that are nervous or upset will pin the whiskers back toward the face.

 

Whiskers Don’t Need Trimming!

Like other hairs on a cat’s body, whiskers shed. That’s normal. But you should never trim them!
A cat with cut whiskers will become disoriented and scared.
If you cut them, that’s like blindfolding someone, taking away one of their ways of identifying what is in their environment.

Source: WebMD Feature – By Suz Redfearn

 

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The information contained in this website is not intended to replace guidance from your veterinarian. Bowen Therapy and Homeopathy are complementary to veterinary treatment and the general care of the animal.