Long, short, wondrous, colorful, adorable, wispy and wiry. These are all words used to describe whiskers. Yes whiskers, special hairs that all cats have and need.
I have stared at the beautiful strips coming out at a hundred different trajectories, watching kitties play or bask in the sun, and wondered what exactly they were for. As a human female I do not want any whiskers on my own face, where as men’s whiskers can often be quite attractive. Men sometimes use facial hair as a measure of their masculinity. As for felines, it is definitely more than just for vanity, as beautiful and cute as they may be. Whiskers are very important—probably much more important than one would initially realize.
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1. They are a cat’s sixth sense.
Kitty whiskers are coarser than the rest of the fur on the body because it provides tactile ability or an extra sense, if you would. In the dark it helps kitties navigate and get a feel for their surroundings. It works by having the whiskers connected deep into the cats muscular and nervous system. This then provides information back to the brain. If you notice your cat poking her head into a space before fully entering, that is your smart little fur-ball letting the whiskers do all the complicated calculations before proceeding into the space. Access granted!!
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2. Whiskers detect the wind.
Not only does this help your cat fit into tiny little boxes or in between fence posts, these wispy strands of hair also feel changes in the air currents. This allows a cat to feel enemies coming their way or a piece of furniture that the human unexpectedly moved in a dark room. It’s pretty amazing that so much feedback can be stored in such a small little group of fibers.
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3. Body whiskers aid in the hunt.
Most people have certainly seen whiskers on the face, probably the chin and above the eyes, but I bet you didn’t notice the ones behind your cat’s front legs. That’s right, go ahead and have a look and I’m sure you’ll find some there. It has been said that these are the special whiskers that help a cat grab her prey in close range when eyesight isn’t as strong.
With all that being said, please do not trim your cat’s whiskers! They are very important and they would be lost without them. Imagine being stuck in the dark with no way to see. It leaves animals lost, scared and helpless without their natural ability to navigate. With your newfound appreciation for whiskers, go ahead and watch your cat. Observe the amazing relationship that they have with their little feelers now that you understand what they are doing with them.