A closer look at cat whiskers
19 June 2019
A cat’s whiskers are a well-honed sensory tool and they are used to detect changes in their surroundings, helping them steer clear of threats, even in the dark. These whiskers can pick up on even the slightest change in wind.
We take a closer look at a cats whiskers and why they are so unique.
The most common mistake is that the whiskers are embedded only into the top coat of fur. They are actually deeply embedded into the muscular and nervous systems and send information directly to the cat’s sensory nerves. Whiskers are not only present on the nose. They also have smaller ones above the eyes, on the chin and on the back of the front legs. Whiskers work as a cat’s own personal measuring tape. Generally, the width of the cat’s whiskers is the same as the width of their body. Cats use their whiskers to know if they will be able to fit into small spaces. So if the whisker fits, the cat fits. They also help cats visually measure distance, allowing them to leap quickly into small spaces.
Whiskers are a great mood detector and a perfect way for you to interpret how your cat is feeling. If the whiskers are pointing out or relaxed, this means the cat is quite content with it’s surroundings and is feeling relaxed. If they are flat against the face then your cat may be feeling anxious and scared about something. And if they are pointing forward, you best watch out as your cat is about to pounce! Forward pointing whiskers mean the cat is excited and preparing to act.
As pets get older, the colour of the whiskers can change. Although the change is small and can be sometimes hard to detect, cats do grey with age. White whiskers can appear to change black.
It is highly important to never cut your cat’s whiskers. You may think you are doing best by them, giving them a grooming. But this will leave your cat disorientated and frightened. It will feel as if they have been partially blinded for weeks. You can care for your kitty best by not touching the whiskers at all.
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