Have you ever looked at your cat’s cute face and wondered if those whiskers served a purpose, and what that might be? I have, so I decided to find out and share it with all of you. Perhaps “fascinating” is a bit of a stretch, but it turns out that cat whiskers are pretty remarkable things.
Whiskers – also called vibrissae or tactile hairs – are thicker and more deeply rooted than your cat’s normal hair, and serve several functions. Because whiskers are rich in nerve endings, they are important sensory tools for a cat. Here are five more fun facts I discovered about cat whiskers.
Cats Whiskers Measure an Opening
There are four rows of whiskers on each side of a cat’s muzzle; the top two rows can move independently from the bottom two rows. Because the whiskers on a cat’s muzzle are approximately equal to her body width, they help to determine how wide an opening is. When a cat puts its head through the opening, she’s checking out the surroundings while simultaneously doing a “whisker check” to see if she can fit through the hole. If the whiskers brush the sides of the hole, the cat knows her body won’t fit.
Cats have 12 whiskers on each side of their nose. These whiskers help a cat navigate through darkness, and they can also tell us how the cat is feeling. A cat would be lost without their whiskers, which are remarkable communication antennas that make it possible for a cat to “see” in the dark.
Each whisker on a cat’s face has nerve endings that lead to the brain. Cat’s have reinforcement whiskers on the back of their front legs, a few on the cheek, under their chin and above their eyes. The whiskers on each side of the cat’s face are set in four rows. Most cats have 12 on each side, 24 in total, but some can have more. The whiskers on the top two rows can move independently from the bottom rows and the middle is where the strongest whiskers are found.
Cat whiskers are super sensitive, and cats receive valuable information via their whiskers by picking up air pressure and air currents. Changes in air currents and vibrations help cats locate prey in the dark. They can’t see a mouse rummaging around at night or in a darkened room, but they can feel its presence via their whiskers which also help them smell. Cats are able to navigate around the furniture or outside the home at night because as air currents move around objects, the whiskers pick up the change in the current which tells them exactly where an object is. It’s the same for a mouse or other small animals cats prey on. Their whiskers tell them how far away the prey is and even “shows” them the shape of the prey.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.