Cat whiskers

A cats whiskers 

Vibrissae 

Introduction

A cats whiskers are not just for looks, they are actually very important to the well being of a cat.  Whiskers are a well honed sensory tool that helps them see in the dark and steer clear of predators.

They are highly sensitive hairs that grow around the cats mouth, above its eyes, chin, the ears, jaw, and forelegs.  Whiskers not only help tell a cat where they are going but even depth perception whether they will fit through openings or not.   They even can help determine the mood of your cat.   Because of the sensitivity of a cats whiskers they can detect even the slightest change in direction of a breeze.   Since the whiskers are so sensitive it may actually cause your cat pain if you mess with them, although my boys love when I scratch their whiskers for them, but I have had them since they were 4 weeks old and whole heartedly trust me.   You want to make sure you also feed your cat on a plate or a wide, flat feeding bowl because the pressure of the whiskers against the bowl can disturb their comfort when trying to eat.  Click here for kitty approved bowls

Cats have 8-12 whiskers on either side of their nose,  with shorter ones above their eyes, on the chin, and the backs of their lower front legs.

Whiskers are about as wide as your cat, so if your cat loves to eat like mine and fluctuates with weight, it is said that the whiskers will grow with the size of your cat.  This helps them determine like a measuring stick whether they can fit through certain openings or not. 

Interesting fact about the whiskers on the back of their legs, the nerves that connect them to the body help a cat detect its prey since they are far sighted, with the help of those special whiskers they know exactly where to grasp their prey or toys. 

You are also able to detect the mood of your kitty if you pay close attention to the position of their whiskers.  If they are relaxed and sticking out sideways, that indicates they are calm.  If they are forward that means they may be excited or at full alert.  If your kitties whiskers are flattened agains their cheeks, they may be angry or scared.   You will also want to pay attention to their all around body language though such as the ears and tail. 

Another interesting fact about your kitties whiskers is they can change color as they get older just like we get grey hairs, kitties can start growing grey whiskers.  

The most important thing to learn from all of this though is never cut a cats whiskers or pull them out, they do fall out naturally but if you cut them they will become disoriented and dizzy for a couple of weeks.  Growing up I had a kitten who singed his whiskers on a candle and for a few weeks he walked around like he was drunk.  It may be cute at first but it is not in the best interest for the poor cat.  It would be like a human having to deal with vertigo for a few weeks.  

Please feel free to comment with more fun facts or ask any questions.  Share them in the comments! 

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