What Are Cat Whiskers For?

What are cat whiskers for? Cats often have a reputation for being independent, but they are also charming animals. They are intuitive and good night hunters, moreover, have you ever wondered how your cat moves at night with the lights off? Or why he knows exactly where the mouse is. Many of his characteristics are due to his mustaches, those that he cleans from time to time. And it is that, you have to take good care of them because cats’ whiskers are not only fun, they have numerous sensors that work as an alert of what is happening around them.

What are cat whiskers for?

It allows them to orient themselves even in the dark, detect odors and protect themselves. If you thought that his mustaches were only something physical, you were wrong. In this oneHOWTO article, we explain what are cat whiskers for.

What Are Cat Whiskers For?

Here we have discussed more what are cat whiskers for? For more details keep reading the article.

Characteristics Of Cat Whiskers

We begin by clarifying the main characteristics of feline whiskers:

  • All cats have whiskers on the sides of your nose and on more parts of the body, but there are breeds that even have more than others. Apart from the snout, they are also located above the eyes, such as the eyebrows, on the chin or even sometimes on the back of the cat’s legs or on its back.
  • On the snout, they usually have between 8 and 12 mobile whiskers on each side, but taking into account the breeds that can have them in other parts, we can say that these cats can have a total of between 16 and 24 mustaches.
  • Although they are commonly known as mustaches, the truth is that technically they are called vibrissae and are different from the rest of the animal’s fur. They are much stiffer and longer hairs and are three times deeper than the rest of their hair.
  • These hairs, or vibrissae, that cats care for and wash so much have sensitive cells at their base and act as receptors.
  • They are very important in their function of the sense of touch and make them sensitive to any movement that is near them. That is why they are highly developed organs of felines and should not be cut at any time, even if they are placed above your eyes or seem too long.
What are the whiskers of a cat for - Characteristics of the whiskers of cats

Their mustaches perceive spaces

Normally the length of the cat’s whiskers or whiskers coincides with the estimated width of its body, except in cases of overweight cats. Thus, with the whiskers, the cat can know if it will fit into a hole or gap or you won’t be able to get in.

They act like a meter or ruler with which to know if the space is too small. So you’ll notice that when a cat tries to get into something like a box or small hole he will first explore the area with his head, probably sticking it in and out several times, before deciding to go in.

Overweight cats or obese cats do not take their measurements into account because they are not aware that they are taller than normal and that is why they can get stuck.

What are a cat's whiskers for - Their whiskers perceive spaces

Feline whiskers perceive odors and vibrations

Their whiskers allow them to detect drafts so if there is any odor in the room or area and a current of air reaches them, together with their sense of smell they will quickly detect the smells.

Likewise, when a cat finds a mouse that it thinks is dead, it will first sniff it and brush its whiskers against it. By surrounding the body with the whiskers detects the slightest vibration so you will know if the prey is still alive. This way you can avoid eating prey that is still alive that could bite you.

Whiskers help them to navigate

The cat’s whiskers, as we can see, are very sensitive and therefore act as alert to what is happening around you. They warn the feline that something is approaching its face and thus avoid damage or an obstacle.

This is very useful to them especially when they sleep since they can continue to stay alert even when they are asleep, when their guard is down, or in the dark or at night. For this reason, and thanks to their powerful eyesight, they are good hunters even at night and move calmly from one place to another even when there is no light. We recommend that you also learn about How Cats See and thus you will better understand why they can orient themselves so well when there is hardly any light and we hardly see anything.

When the animal feels something with the whiskers, each whisker sends a signal to an area of ​​the brain, which is called the barrel region. This area is composed of a set of neurons related to a functional cortical column and this helps them orient.

Help them see up close

Cats are hunters by nature and, therefore, among their characteristics is that of locating prey from a distance. In this way, they have evolved to be able to see and focus in the distance and forward. However, they have trouble focusing on closer objects. They see better from afar than up close. Any object that is less than 30 centimeters from their eyes, approximately, will be difficult for them to recognize.

To solve it are their whiskers that compensate for the limitations of the vision of cats to see up close. cats can move their whiskers forward and thus recognize tactile stimuli and they know exactly what is in front of them due to the information that reaches the brain through these sensors.

What are a cat's whiskers for - They help them see up close

They are used to communicate

In addition to acting as sensors and helping them in their daily lives, cats’ whiskers act as communication tools and they can help you know the status of your pet.

If the whiskers are relaxed, it means that it is calm, but if they are stiff and move forward, it means that the animal is on alert. In addition, when cats are frightened or angry, they inertia pull their whiskers back and hit their cheeks, crushing them.

Why you shouldn’t trim a cat’s whiskers

You should never trim the whiskers of a cat even though you think they are too long. If you do, you can break their sensors and that’s it. they will not be able to estimate the space around you so could be trapped when trying to get into someplace where they don’t really fit well. Also, the cat can feel disoriented and fall from somewhere you’ve uploaded it. However, if you see that your cat’s mustache falls out, don’t be scared, they will grow back. Additionally, cats with shorter whiskers also have a tendency to fall from heights or get stuck.

Now that you know more about the whiskers of these felines, you can stay tuned and find out how your pet is doing or why it is prone to get stuck somewhere. Also, we recommend reading these other articles on Do cat whiskers grow back? and Why does my cat lose its whiskers to learn much more?

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