Whiskers are one thing that every cat has in common. And they’re not just decorative long hairs sprouting from Fluffy’s snout—your feline friend’s whiskers are essential tools for her daily life! Below, your veterinarian tells you more about your cat’s whiskers and why they’re so important.
The whiskers are rooted more deeply into the skin than a cat’s normal hair strands. There is a follicle full of nerves at the base of each one, which makes them extremely sensitive. And surprisingly, whiskers aren’t just found on your cat’s snout. They also sprout from Fluffy’s chin, ears, eyebrows, and even her forelegs!
Your cat uses the whiskers to figure out the location, size, and texture of objects around her. She can also use them to detect changes in air currents. This sensory information combines together to help paint a clear picture of your cat’s surroundings, even when it’s dark. Fluffy can even use this information to determine if she can fit into tight spaces—that’s because the whiskers along the nose are about the length of her body’s width. Who knew?
Your cat’s whiskers can give you some insight into how she’s feeling. When the whiskers are pulled back across the face, your cat is probably feeling alarmed or threatened. (Look for wide eyes, raised ears, and a puffed tail at the same time.) When the whiskers are relaxed and pointing sideways away from the face like they are most of the time, your cat is comfortable.
Take note of your cat’s whisker position every now and then. It can give you an insight into how she’s feeling in the moment.
Cats shed whiskers occasionally, and you might find one on your floor now and then. Never, under any circumstance, attempt to cut or trim a whisker yourself. You would be blocking your cat’s access to crucial sensory information, and a cat could even experience dizziness, confusion, and disorientation as a result. It would be like suddenly losing your sense of touch or sight. You wouldn’t like it much either!
Does your cat need a checkup? Give us a call to schedule an appointment.