Why do Cats Have Whiskers?

By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
Why do Cats Have Whiskers?

Every detail of a cat's face is simply lovely. Their eyes with their intense gaze, their little pink nose and, of course, their cute whiskers that gives them so much personality. But although to us they may seem like ordinary hairs, they are part of the feline anatomy, you should know that they are not there by chance and that they play some important roles for the animal. Do you know why do cats have whiskers? If you have no idea then keep reading, because at OneHowTo we will explain it in detail.

Are cat's whiskers like normal hairs?

The anatomy of a cat is a perfect machine: they can always land on their feet thanks to their flexible body and keen senses, they are fast, stealthy to hunt better and of course they have a unique sense of direction. And of course all this is owed to a body designed for it, so it is clear that the cat's whiskers are not simple hairs.

These hairs, also known as vibrissae are actually a main part of a cat's sense of direction. Their whiskers are stiff and in the tips they have a sensory organ known as proprioceptors, while the follicles have a large number of nerve endings that connect to the animal's muscles, brain and nervous system, everything the cat senses through their whiskers travels to their brain and allows them to act and move in certain ways.

Through their whiskers cats can sense any changes in their environment and move around while avoiding dangers, getting into tight spots without getting stuck and without losing their direction. Although obviously these vibrissae are also known as whiskers, cats also have these tactile hairs in areas such as their eyebrows, ears, jaws and front legs, which allows them to maintain a sharp sense of direction.

Why do Cats Have Whiskers? - Are cat's whiskers like normal hairs?

The perfect tool for orientation

If anything characterizes cats it is their powerful sense of direction, which allows them to move around the room even in complete darkness, all this is thanks to their vibrissae among other things. One of the reasons that cats have whiskers is because they serve to detect any changes in their environment through such simple details like the wind, allowing them to see if there is an object that they have to dodge or how to get to the point they want to reach.

They may sense the currents of air in a room or their environment and, thanks to the sensors on the tip of their whiskers, pick up on where furniture, obstacles or potential hazards are located, and move according to what they are sensing. This certainly makes them the undisputed kings of the night.

Why do Cats Have Whiskers? - The perfect tool for orientation

Their whiskers help them know where can sneak about

If you live with a cat then you will already know this: cats love getting into all sorts of tight spots in the most intricate hideouts, something for which their whiskers are very useful.

One of the most important functions of a cat's whiskers is to allow the animal to determine whether this gap, hideout or space that they want to get into is suitable for them. The hairs of this area are almost the same width of their body, so that when the animal puts their head into space that they want to enter several times as they normally do, through their whiskers, they are feeling whether it is suitable for their size and shape.

Why do Cats Have Whiskers? - Their whiskers help them know where can sneak about

Cats' whiskers can show how they are feeling

Another reason why cats have whiskers is because they are so useful for this animal in terms of their movement and location, it is not surprising that they also use them to express their mood or feelings. For example, when a cat hunts or plays at hunt it is normal to see their whiskers pointing forward, towards the prey they want to catch. Similarly if the cat is happy or calm, their whiskers are sticking out their face and don't move, whereas if they feel threatened or upset they can lean them back, close to their face.

Sensing those changes will be important to knowing your pet's mood, but that isn't all that's interesting to know about them. If you want to know more about cats then don't miss our articles:

Why do Cats Have Whiskers? - Cats' whiskers can show how they are feeling

Never cut their whiskers!

After finding everything that cat's whiskers are important for, the idea of cutting them is clearly crazy. By doing so you'll be taking away from the animal an important tool that lets them move around and settle in their environment, thereby decreasing their senses. This is a very important area for the animal so it is best to never handle it so in order to avoid causing any problems for your cat.

If you want to read similar articles to Why do Cats Have Whiskers?, we recommend you visit our Pets category.

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