What do cat whiskers do – More than a cute face

What do cat whiskers do – they have some very important functions!!  Cat whiskers are actually incredibly sensitive and provide the cat with a lot of information about their surroundings (similar to horse whiskers).  Personally, when I think of whiskers I think of the long ones on the head, but cats actually have whiskers on their forelegs as well!

All About Cat Whiskers

If you’ve ever spent time around cats you are probably quite familiar with their facial whiskers.  They tend to come out on either side of the face, with the most prominent ones just behind the nose and above the upper lip. While most cats are pretty furry all over their whiskers are significantly longer, thicker, and courser than the surrounding hairs. They are also embedded deeper and have quite strong sensory capabilities due to the nerves at their roots.   Since there are so many functions that a cat relies on it’s whiskers for they should never be trimmed.

Now let’s get to the function

Cat whiskers are incerdibly sensitive.  They can be used as a basic measuring tool ot see if the cat’s body is likely to fit through a small space.  Or, on a more detailed level they can even sense their surroundings by the virbrations created as the cat moves through space.  Think about how on a windy day you may be able to feel differences in the air when certain objects are blcoking the wind.  At an incredibly basic level the whiskers function with a similar idea at a drastically increased sensitivity to help the cat navigate its surroundings.  Facial whiskers can even help make up for the cats poor clsoe up vision!

Leg whiskers – what?!!  The whiskers on a cats leg are actually super functional for hunting!  One of their main benefits is allowing the cat to know whether prey they are hunting/have caught is still alive and moving or not.  Pretty cool, eh?

Thanks for reading!  If you liked this articles don’t forget to leave a comment and check out some of our others!


Further Reading on the Topic:

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2 Responses

  1. Michel says:

    I learned something new today, as I never knew a cat’s whiskers were so important or that you shouldn’t ever cut them. I was wondering whether or not to trim our cat’s whiskers the other day, as they are extremely long, and a lot longer than they used to be. I didn’t realize that they were used to measure the width of openings so that cats could judge whether or not their bodies would fit into a crevice. No wonder they can afford to be so agile.

    • admin says:

      Hi Michel, I am so glad you learned something new :).  It’s never a bad idea to check with your vet but as a general rule cat whiskers are best left alone and trimming can actually be quite detrimental to their many senses.

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