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Why do cats have whiskers?

Posted: 5am 21 May 2022
By Kylie Mackay at Northshore Pet Resort 


We know their itty bitty whiskers are super cute, but they are much more than just a tickly accessory. These incredible sensory tools serve a very important role.

Whiskers help cats measure spaces:

You have probably seen your cat pop their head into an opening before the rest of its body. They do this as it allows their whiskers to work as a ruler to help them gauge how tight the space is.

Whiskers help cats to see up close:

Cats' close-up vision isn’t very good - less than 30cm in front of their face. By using their whiskers to touch objects close to them, they can help determine the location, size and texture of the object. This also helps cats protect the sensitive parts of their faces as well.

Whiskers help cats to see in the night:

Cats have much better night vision than humans so paired with their whiskers they are able to navigate their way around in the dark with ease. The air currents in a room are different depending on where furniture is placed and their whiskers pick up on this and communicate this with their brain, like radar.

Whiskers show cats emotions:

If their whiskers are rigid and pulled tight around their face, this can indicate they are feeling threatened. If their whiskers are relaxed, this can indicate the cat is feeling relaxed. Pushed forward can indicate curiosity and interest.

Whiskers are incredible things!

Did you know?

  • Whiskers are very sensitive!
  • Whiskers, unlike our hairs, are deeply embedded and connected to the nervous system. The tips of whiskers are equipped with sensory organs called proprioceptors that send messages to the brain and help cats to know more about the environment around them such as an object's distance, direction and even texture.
  • Whiskers are vital to cats and this is why whiskers should never be trimmed. Trimming them would disorient your cat and make them feel scared. Don’t worry if they fall out though - they do grow back.

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