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Felinexpress.com home > Cat Care > Why Do Cats have Whiskers?

Why Do Cats have Whiskers?

Recently, a stray kitten was brought to me who had seen better days. The woman who was handing the kitten over to my sanctuary explained that her daughter had gotten a hold of a pair of scissors and given the kitty a haircut. Not only was the fur missing in patches but also missing were the kittenís wonderful whiskers. The six-week old kitten with stubby white whiskers sticking out of his face made him look a bit unbalanced.

A catís whiskers are imbedded deep into the skin attaching to the arrector pili muscle. This muscle allows the catís hair to stand on end and controls the movement of the whiskers. The muscle is located in the middle layer of the catís skin. The whiskers are used to measure the catís environment. They allow the cat to sense prey, investigate where the prey is hiding even test the air current. When you see a cat sniffing around a mouse hole, she is not only trying to smell her prey, but her whiskers are measuring the hole to see if she could squeeze through it or not to capture her prey. If her whiskers donít touch the side of the hole, she will dive in and capture her prey.

Whiskers are very sensitive on the tips. Putting food into a small bowl can stop some cats from eating. If their whiskers brush against the lip of the bowl, the sensation becomes too intense for the cat to enjoy her dinner. If you cat stops eating and you are feeding her out of a small bowl try feeding her off a plate or small saucer instead.

The cat also has whiskers located under her front legs. These whiskers are used to aid the cat in leaping and landing correctly and in stalking her  prey. After a cat captures and kills her prey, she will use her whiskers to see if the prey is dead. Since all cats are far-sighted their whiskers help them explore objects that are close at hand.

If you look closely, you will see that cats also have whiskers over their eyes. When a cat is angry, not only does she pin her ears back, but you will see her whiskers flatten back into her face. A calm catís whiskers are forward, relaxed and still. A curious cat will bring her whiskers forward and if you look carefully you will see the whiskers tremble a bit.

Do Whiskers Grow Back?

India, the little black kitten who got such a creative hair cut got her whiskers back but it took in a few weeks. Because her whiskers were so short, India was unable to judge distances and would frequently fall when she tried to leap on top of something. She would wobble a bit when she walked resembling a kitten with an inner ear infection. All of this stemmed from her missing whiskers. She likely experienced pain when her whiskers were cut. The whiskers are associated with nerve receptors and are extremely sensitive. She would frequently vomit which the vet attributed to the stress related to the missing whiskers.

A catís whiskers are as important to the well-being of the cat as the catís claws. Neither should be removed intentionally. They use both for balance and equilibrium.

  1. Korat
  2. Balinese
  3. Javanese
  4. Japanese Bobtail
  5. Somali
  6. Abyssinian
  7. Turkish Van
  8. Siamese
  9. Egyptian Mau
  10. Oriental Shorthair
  11. Tonkinese
  12. Bengal
  13. Norwegian Forest Cat
  14. Cornish Rex
  15. Siberian

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