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Home / Pets Health / What Is a Cat’s Whisker?
What Is a Cat’s Whisker?

What Is a Cat’s Whisker?

We know that if a cat shows its belly to you, it means it trusts you. Additionally, we love to rub its soft belly. After all, the soft belly of a cat is of great temptation to most humans. But personally, a cat’s selfie with its whole facial whiskers would be more attractive to me. Are whiskers just longer hairs? Obviously not. Now, we will learn more about cat whiskers.

Whiskers, also called vibrissae or tactile hair, are longer and thicker than regular hair. And they are three times deeper down to a cat’s skin. Moreover, each whisker follicle has many sensitive nerve endings. Whiskers are located on the upper lips, above the eyes, on the chin, and on the forelegs (also named carpal whiskers). Most cats have 12 whiskers on each cheek that are arranged neatly in 4 rows.

Functions of the whiskers

Whiskers not only serve as important facial features but also play a unique role in helping cats sense the environment around them. Even though there is no nerve in whiskers, many nerve endings located in each whisker follicle can help sense and detect air vibration, and therefore judge the distance to an object. For example, the whisker around the cat’s upper lip helps them judge if they can pass through a small distance as the whiskers are usually proportionate to their body size. Also, carpal whiskers can help cats climb, hunt, and provide important information about objects within their grasp.

What can whiskers tell us about a cat’s mood?

The rows of whiskers on cheeks move forward and backward. Their position changes with the cat’s mood as the movements allow whiskers to communicate what it is feeling. Whiskers of a calm and friendly cat are in a neutral position and relaxed slightly to the side. Whiskers of a fearful cat are flattened to the face, and their ears are also flattened. When a cat shows offensive aggression or is angry, it will try to make himself/herself look bigger and more intimidating. The facial whiskers will point backward. When a cat is attracted by something, the whiskers will also pull forward and fan out. 

Can a cat’s whiskers be trimmed? 

It doesn’t hurt a cat if you accidentally cut its whiskers off as there are no nerve endings in the whiskers themselves. But since whiskers are so important for cats to sense the surroundings, they should never be trimmed. They do shed as a cat grows older, just like fur. So don’t worry or panic if you find a whisker around your house.

We hope you have now gained information about a cat’s whiskers. Cute and functional as whiskers are, why not share your fury baby’s whiskers pictures with us? Click here to share.