Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

You might think all the facial hair you’re seeing on your feline friend is a way of attracting a mate. What is the point of a cat whisker? Cats can have different shapes of whiskers from straight to curl but you shouldn’t trim them, they fall off and grow when it is necessary. Have a walk down some streets these days and you’ll be confronted with all sizes and shapes of groomed cats. Cats are generally furry and hairy, there’s no denying that.

What are whiskers?

Whiskers are hairs that grow out of the face or snout. Whiskers themselves don’t ‘feel’ anything, but they do vibrate. There are nerves in the hair follicle from which a whisker grows, and those nerves send sensory-related messages to the brain of the cat. Cats have the sensory capability which send sensory messages to the brain when need be as they serve as touch sensors.

Cat’s whiskers are highly sensitive “organs”. The roots of these whiskers go much deeper than regular hairs, and at the base have very sensitive nerves.

Where are cat whiskers found?

Cats’ whiskers are visible in a cat’s body but mostly they are rooted much more deeply in your feline friend skin than her ordinary fur, and the area around them has a very generous supply of nerves and blood.

The cat can detect even the slightest change in the direction of any item or wind as the whiskers tips are so sensitive. Cat whiskers can be found on your cat nose sides, chin, above her eyes, and behind her front legs.

Importance of cat whiskers

  • Hunting prey

Cats like hunting for their prey, it could be a rat or their favourite mouse toy and whiskers help sense that their prey is in the proper position for the fatal bite when chasing them as they assist when navigating their way in the dark.

  • Measuring spaces

In cats, whiskers are a way of measuring the size of a space that the cat is considering entering. The cat can tell, by how much his whiskers are pushed back, whether he is likely to get trapped in a passage that he is putting his head into.

  • Guide in dark places

The cat uses the whiskers to sense movement and also to feel out its surroundings especially in dark places and changes in balance and depth perception or a shift of anything makes her alert. The whiskers give a cat it a heightened sense of feeling and helping the cat to detect and respond to changes in its surroundings.

  • Approximating distance

Cats have a sensory organ at the end of their whiskers called a proprioceptor, which sends tactile signals to the brain and nervous system.

Whiskers also serve as a way for cats to visually measure distance, which is why they are able to leap so quickly and gracefully onto a narrow ledge or out of harm’s way.

  • Shield eye from debris

The eyebrow whiskers protect cats’ eyes by triggering a blinking response when debris touches them and keep it safe from hurting his eyes.

Cats use whiskers to take in information about their immediate environment and perform many important functions as listed above. Hope this articles has given you more insight on why cats need whiskers and you will stop wondering on this mystery anymore.