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.
Although it’s true that all cats are individuals with unique likes and dislikes, one can reasonably come up with a list of feline pet peeves that will apply to most cats. As with anything, there are exceptions. It’s up to us as responsible pet owners to get to know our BFFs (best feline friends) well enough to recognize what they do and don’t like. We can’t eliminate everything they hate, of course; some things are unavoidable and some are necessary for their wellbeing. Here are 10 things to consider.
Many cats are terrified of fireworks, thunder and loud car noises such as honking, backfires and screeching tires. Raucous parties and arguing humans are also on the list of things that disturb cats. Even a very loud sneeze from you can spook a skittish kitty. You’ll know if your cat hates any of these things, because they will bolt for their safe place at the first sign of them.
Other Cats in “Their” Territory
All cats have a territorial nature; it’s instinctual. Even indoor kitties have what they perceive as their own territory, and they don’t appreciate it when other cats encroach upon it. Luckily, most felines in multi-cat households can learn to share territory and get along. One thing you can do is take care to treat all cats the same; trust me, they do notice inequality, and they definitely don’t like it. Some indoor cats are highly disturbed when they see a cat outside in “their” yard. In that case, close the blinds or distract them with a favorite toy.
Oh, the joy of taking your cat for a ride in the car. Their piercing screams will fray your nerves, but sometimes it’s unavoidable, such as visits to the vet or when you’re moving. For cats who hate car rides, there isn’t much you can to do alleviate their displeasure; you just have to bear it until you reach your destination. I have heard stories about cats who don’t mind car rides, but I’m pretty sure those are fables. If not, and your cat doesn’t pitch a fit in the car, consider yourself blessed.
As I’ve mentioned here before, cat owners and bloggers have their own little language. Actually, there’s nothing little about it, as it consists of hundreds of unique words and phrases, with more being added every week. You probably won’t hear any of them on the street, but Catspeak permeates the blogging world.
One subset of this language refers to the sleeping positions of cats, and these have in turn become popular with the cat meme makers. Just do a Google image search for Cat Loaf, Monorail Cat, or Contortionist Cat, and you’ll be rewarded with countless funny memes. Be forewarned, though – this activity is addicting and can easily eat up half your day. (Don’t ask me how I know this!).
Here are a few common cat sleeping positions.
Picture a big, fluffy loaf of bread, and you’ll have a good idea what this cat position looks like. A Cat Loaf is when a cat sits with all four feet tucked under her body, which forms a rectangular loaf shape. Judging by the number of memes and photos online, the Cat Loaf is one of the most prevalent feline positions.
It should come as no surprise to even the most intellectually challenged human among you that what you believe your cat thinks versus what your cat is really thinking, is never the same thing. Never! We are different species after all; we just don’t have the ability to think alike. Some would argue that cats don’t think at all, but none of those types would ever be reading a pet blog, so they don’t count. Besides, anyone with eyes can see the wheels turning in their cat’s brain, which is surely proof that we are capable of deep thoughts. Right?
For the sake of argument, let’s all agree that cats do think, although I admit it’s not always profound. Sometimes it’s more along the lines of “show me the cat food!” thinking, especially for a self-professed foodie feline like me. Nine times out of ten, I’m thinking of food. When will I eat again? What flavor will I get today? How stinky will the stinky goodness be? If I meow incessantly, will she give me more CANIDAE treats? But I digress.
Cats also act according to our own feline view of the world, which is not the same as the human one. And yet, my own human constantly surprises me with her inability to get that simple concept. She’s convinced that I rub up against her leg out of some deep-seated desire to show her my undying love. Ha ha meow! I only do that to make sure she never leaves the house looking like a person who does not have a cat, which IMO is the saddest human of all!
I put my paws together to come up with some other scenarios to illustrate the difference between what a human is thinking and what a cat is thinking.
When the Human is Eating
Human: “Kitty, I just fed you. Why must you always try to steal my food when I am eating?”
Cat: “Why must you wave that tantalizing piece of chicken in front of my face? How am I supposed to grab it off your fork if you won’t hold it still for me?”
When the Human is in the Bathroom
Human: “Trust me kitty…there is nothing for you to see in here. Please stop scratching at the door to get in.”
Cat: “Human? Are you OK in there? Human? Oh no! I must save her! If she drowns, who will feed me?”
A while back, a certain feline wrote about 10 Purrfect Jobs for Cats. Rocky’s position, I believe, was that there are plenty of jobs cats could do admirably well but that most felines think work is beneath them and looking cute is all they need to do to have us humans wrapped around their paw. I would agree with that last part; Rocky doesn’t lift a claw to help me around the house and yet…I am definitely smitten with the furry boy.
That being said, there actually are some cats with jobs, and mighty important ones at that. Cats have, in fact, been working for us for a very long time. Their skill at keeping the mice and insects away from the granaries in ancient Egypt likely contributed to their high place of honor in that society. Many farmers employ barn cats even today, but rodent control isn’t the only job felines can do. Here are three working cats with very interesting jobs.
Station Master Tama
A calico cat named Tama is the first feline to become an official railroad executive. Tama is the station master and Operating Officer of the Kishi Station in Wakayama, Japan. Moreover, this hardworking feline has been on the job for eight years! In 2006, the Wakayama Electric Railway Company converted all stations on the Kishigawa Line to unmanned posts to cut costs. Station masters were chosen from local businesses, and grocer Toshiko Koyama was selected for Kishi. Koyama adopted the stray kitty and fed her at the station.
In 2007, railway officials seeking ways to boost ridership decided to officially name Tama the station master. It worked brilliantly! Ridership increased dramatically as tourists flocked to see the cute cat. It’s a cushy job, apparently, as Station Master Tama’s primary duties consist of lounging in her office, greeting passengers and posing for photos. Although she doesn’t collect a paycheck, the railway does supply Tama with free cat food.
Tama became the symbol of the railway and still attracts scores of tourists today. In 2008, Tama was given an award for providing an estimated 1.1 billion yen ($10.8 million) economic boost to the region. Now a spry senior at 16, Tama has earned the right to work less and relax more, logging just four days a week and getting help from two “junior station masters” who are, of course, also cats.
An orange Manx cat named Stubbs has served as honorary mayor of a small town in Alaska for 16 years. Talkeetna, a hub for bush pilots to ferry climbers onto Mount McKinley, was reportedly the inspiration for the quirky town of Cicely, Alaska in the 1990s TV show Northern Exposure. So naturally, having a cat for mayor wasn’t a stretch for a town that embraced its reputation for eccentricity.
The roughly 900 residents elected Stubbs as a write-in candidate since he seemed better suited for the job than the human contenders. They say Stubbs is the best mayor the town has ever had, and he’s frequently spotted making the rounds around town.
Unfortunately for Stubbs, his political career hasn’t been all sunshine and roses – over the years he has been shot with a BB gun, mauled by a dog, and fallen into a restaurant’s fryer. Word on the street is that these unfortunate incidents were all assassination attempts by a political opponent. Nevertheless, Stubbs is still on the job, and unlike some human politicians, still maintains a high approval rating after many years of service.
Police Officer Lemon
When an itty bitty stray kitten wandered into the Yoro police station in Kyota, Japan, he was warmly received by the officers, who immediately made him an honorary member of the force. Now a fully grown mancat, Lemon wears a custom-stitched uniform and mostly works a desk job at the station (rather, he keeps the other cops company and chills out on any desk he pleases).
Sometimes he gets to go out on ride-alongs with the officers to help calm people in distress and offer a little feline comfort to victims of a crime. “Purr Therapy” is what every cat does best, so even though Police Officer Lemon is just doing what comes naturally, I think he’s a shining example of a working cat!
Do you know of any other cats with jobs we should feature here?
In my neck of the woods, spring can be a tad fickle. In other words, even though the calendar says it’s officially springtime, the weather may or may not follow suit. In fact, sometimes winter drags on here for what seems like forever.
Thankfully, this year looks pretty good so far (knock on wood) and I am celebrating the arrival of warm(er) weather. CANIDAE is celebrating the season too, with a spring-themed photo contest for all of their customers and fans!
How to Enter
Just grab your camera and be ready to capture your cat or dog doing whatever you think best embodies the spring season. Whether that’s wearing bunny ears, sniffing daffodils, visiting the Easter Bunny, or just exuberantly enjoying the nice spring weather…snap away!
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.