Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

Whiskers. They make your nose tingle when cats come in for a kiss and appear funny when sprinkled with dusty bunnies that are found under the bed. What is the reason cats have whiskers at all?

We’ll first talk about the characteristics of these whiskers. Nachamari Rivera-Rios DVM is part of the team of vets at the Riverside Cat Hospital in Okemos, Mich. She says that cat whiskers can be located on cheeks, the upper and lower lips, and on the brows. They’re composed of protein keratin is also present in the feline’s claws’ and sheaths as well as fur. It is the Latin word for whiskers scientifically are vibrissae and the root which means “to vibrate”.

What is Cat Whiskers For?

In essence, cat whiskers function just like tiny sensors for the radar that aid in navigation. “They’re closely linked to sensory hubs like the fingertips of our fingertips. They aid cats in the perception of space and surroundings,” Rivera-Rios says. “Cat whiskers can also tell whether a surface is smooth or hard.”

Through being able to detect changes in airflow whiskers aid cats in determining the size, shape, and speed of the objects in their route. This is an essential aspect of a cat’s ideal life. It includes assessing the “if I fit and sit” response, and whether they’re able to move through an entrance to can balance themselves when they leap and climb up various heights.

The issue of the reason cats have whiskers, and, even more, important the things it is that they can do using them has been researched for a long time including recently by an interdisciplinary team from Northwestern University. In April 2021, the university published findings from its research into how whiskers relay information about touch to the brain of a cat. This is a challenge, as it takes place in the “base of the whisker…hidden within the follicle an incredibly deep pocket that encases the whisker inside the skin.” The team’s findings are “when whiskers are in contact with objects they create an “S”-shaped bend inside the follicle. Through bending in the “S” shape the whisker pushes and pulls on the sensor cells which transmit touch signals for your brain.”

Rivera-Rios claims that, unlike other hairs on their body, cats have the ability to move their whiskers at will, which allows them to communicate their mood through the position of their whiskers. Also… and…she states that your cat’s whiskers could speak to you! “Whiskers can be curved forward and in your direction to signify a hug from a cat,” she says.

We’re likely to spend many hours just watching this subtle shift in our cats.

The reason the Cat’s Whiskers are So Long

“Whiskers are generally about the same length as the body of a cat is large,” Rivera-Rios says. “The whiskers’ tips are slim, flexible, and extremely sensitive. Although the whiskers of mammals are longer, they are only found in species that require three-dimensional orientation when in complex environments.”

It is important to remember that some cats have curly or short whiskers that could not be as beneficial as whiskers that are standard. Therefore, breeds such as the Cornish Rex, Devon rex, Selkirk Rex, and Sphynx must boost their senses in different ways, maybe depending more on scent or sight.

If your cat is dropping to the chunky end and their whiskers will not expand to keep up with the expansion. Develop a nutritional plan with your vet to ensure that your cat isn’t becoming overweight and keeps their whiskers in great shape.

Cats also can develop “whisker fatigue” an illness that causes them to be stressed or agitated in the event that they’re constantly overwhelmed by everything their antennae’s wisps detect, and they cannot bear to be near anything. Cat Hospital of Tucson mentions that you may experience this in particular if your cat refuses to drink or eat from the usual bowls or walks before the cat as well as is meowing. A simple fix? Change to more shallow and wider bowls and plates, so that whiskers can float freely above them.

Why you shouldn’t cut Cat Whiskers

Cutting or trimming the whiskers of a cat is a no-no.

“Cutting whiskers isn’t required and can affect your cat’s ability to these vital sensorimotor structures” the Rivera-Rios claims. “For instance, if young kittens are having their whiskers cut and they are less active. Whiskers are among the most crucial sensory inputs prior to kittens being able to open their eyes and ears wide!”

There are times when cats’ whiskers break or fall out But Rivera-Rios advises to fret since cats have plenty of whiskers to make up for the one that is missing until they grow back. “A new whisker is expected to emerge in about 7-10 days however, it could take several weeks to fully extend,” she says. “However If your cat’s whiskers have been falling out in a significant amount, it is recommended to seek medical assistance.”

Find out more about keeping the BFF (best furry friend!) well-behaved and healthy with our exclusive collection, Feline Fine.

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