Kitties come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. One thing they all have in common? Those cute whiskers! These are much more than decorative long hairs sprouting from Fluffy’s face. Your cat’s whiskers are essential for all sorts of daily functions. Read on as your veterinarian tells you more about these important—and super cute—sensory tools.
Kitties’ whiskers are rooted more deeply into the skin than normal hairs. Plus, there are many nerve endings at the base of each one. This is what makes them extremely sensitive. As you probably have noticed, cats have whiskers on their chins, ears, and eyebrow areas. You might also be surprised to learn that whiskers also sprout from your kitty’s forelegs!
Fluffy uses her whiskers to determine the location, size, and texture of objects in her nearby environment. She can also use them to detect changes in wind currents. All of this sensory information helps her to paint a clear picture of her surroundings, even when it’s pitch black. Fluffy also uses this whisker information to determine whether or not she can fit into tight spaces. The whiskers along the nose are about the length of her body’s width. (This of course doesn’t always work with chubby kitties.)
Did you know that whiskers can give you some insight into how your kitty is feeling? When the whiskers are pulled back tightly across the face, Fluffy is feeling alarmed or threatened. (This whisker position might be accompanied by widened eyes, raised ears, and a puffed tail.) When the whiskers are relaxed and pointing sideways, as they are most of the time, it means your furry little friend is content. Cats sometimes point their whiskers forward when they are tracking prey or predators.
Take a look at Fluffy’s whiskers the next time she hears a strange sound or the bark of a neighbor’s dog. They’ll probably be adjusted a bit from their normal position.
Cats do shed whiskers, but you should never cut or trim them yourself. If you do, you’re removing crucial sensory information that your feline pal really needs, and she could experience dizziness, confusion, and disorientation. It would be like suddenly removing your sense of touch or sight—you wouldn’t like it, either!
Does your pet need veterinary care? That’s where we come in. Make an appointment at the office today.