What is a cat without their whiskers? While there is no doubt it would be a funny looking cat, it would also be a cat that is missing a fundamental piece of its anatomy. A cat’s whiskers are more than just an adorable face adornment. They actually serve a very important purpose. So, let’s find out why do cats have whiskers.
Why Do Cats Have Them?
They help them with touch and sight
Most importantly cats have whiskers to help with their senses. They are unlike their fur or human facial hair. A cat’s whiskers are stiffer, longer hairs called vibrissae which are more deeply rooted in their body. They go deeper than their fur and are connected to a cat’s muscular and nervous systems which makes them much more sensitive. Whiskers send information about a cat’s surrounding directly to their sensory nerves, giving them a better sense of the environment around them.
Even more intriguing is that whiskers have a sensory organ at the tip called a proprioceptor. This sends tactile signals to the cat’s brain and nervous system. It helps a cat determine where every part of the body is so they know how to move, even when they can’t really see. They actually help cats visually measure distance without their eyes. This is how they can fit into tight spaces and jump on narrow ledges.
They should never be trimmed
Some cats have longer ones by their mouths and even over their eyes. This can sometimes lead owners to think that these long hairs need a trim. However, that is not true at all. In fact, don’t ever trim your cat’s whiskers. While they do grow back, they need them to sense the world around them. Regular grooming for your cat is always a good thing, but make sure to leave the whiskers alone.
They convey their feelings
Along with other body language, cats use their whiskers to show their feelings. When they are engaged and playful, their whiskers are often pointed forward. If they are scared you’ll see them both scrunched up and flat against their face. If your cat is excited then you’ll probably notice that they are standing out. This also goes for all of their body hair when they are startled.
A cat’s whiskers are a little mysterious and very important for our feline friends. They need them for their agility, their senses and also to help protect them in dangerous situations. Let their whiskers grow and learn a little bit more about your cat through them.