Cat Whiskers: Must-Know Facts About Your Pet’s Sensory Hairs

Here are the fun facts about cat whiskers

Cat whiskers are among the cute features that your feline pet can have and there are amazing facts about their sensory hairs.

The word “whisker” is an old one. It can be traced back to around 1600. This came from the Middle English word “wisker,” which is anything that whisks or sweeps and this was originally used to describe the human mustache or beard, based on the article in Treehugger.

The sensory hairs of cats are also called “vibrissae” and they are two to three times thicker than regular cat hair. Their roots are three times deeper. Mystacial whiskers are those found on either side of the muzzle but also appear on their jaws, above the eyes, near the ears, and on the back of the forelegs. These are present in every cat’s portion that would help it gather information.

Normally, a cat has 24 mystacial whiskers—12 on each cheek, arranged in four horizontal rows of three. Sometimes, they are more than 24 but the number is always even.

The cat whiskers are deeply embedded and connected to the nervous system and equipped with sensory organs called proprioceptors. Through these, messages are sent to the brain and help the cat determine the distance, direction, and even surface texture of an object.

Whiskers can experience stress and it is when the cat’s food or water bowl is too narrow. If you see your cat scooping food out with its paw or knocking food on the floor to eat, it is a sign that it is having “whiskers stress.”

The size of whiskers correlates to the size of a cat. It means that the fluffier a cat is, the longer its whiskers. The whiskers on the legs are helping the cat for hunting. The whiskers located at the back of its front legs, on the undersides of its wrists help in climbing trees and killing their prey.

The whiskers are connected to the muscle “sling,” which allows the cat to move them independently. These sensory hairs can reveal the mood of a cat. Your pet is likely scared when its whiskers are pinned back while it can mean that it is on alert mode when the whiskers are in a forward position with ears erect and pointing forward.

Cat whiskers have their natural growth, dormancy, and shedding phases. That is why they should not be trimmed.

Whiskers are for the sensory perception of cats and their senses are being challenged as well when they are around with dogs. It is because some people think that cats and dogs are enemies.

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