You might have wondered why cats have whiskers. It looks like a mustache on a cat. Like humans, cats have hair covered with whiskers. It is the most intriguing thing about the cat’s facial features.
Cat whiskers, which are known as vibrissae, derive from the Latin word “vibrio,” which means vibrate.
Whiskers are receptive tangible hairs that appear on a cat’s muzzle. It covers the eyes and other parts of the body like ears, jaw, and forelegs. There is a follicle filled with nerves at the root of these stiff hairs.
A cat whisker is not for style; instead, it is like a tool that performs many functions. It serves as a sensory tool. Whiskers are more coarse and sensitive, unlike other hairs.
Cats usually have around 24 whiskers on their face. Each side has 12 whiskers. The muscle and nerve endings connect with whiskers. The main reason why cats have whiskers is to feel and sense what is around them.
How do whiskers work on cats?
Your cat’s whiskers are a multifunctional tool and function in various forms. Let’s find out the purpose of whiskers on cats.
Whiskers are an equipped sensory tool that helps a cat throughout everyday tasks. These individual hairs assist in insight and allow a cat to navigate through the environment. It provides extra sensory input and acts as a receiver. That’s not all; it also transmits information to sensory cells if an object is spotted.
When an item brushes up against a whisker, the hair shakes and excites the hair follicle nerve. A cat’s whisker sends details of the size, shape, and movement of close objects.
Cats have specific sensory body parts known as proprioceptors. It forms at the ends of their whiskers. The proprioceptors transmit messages to the brain to keep the cat conscious of every aspect of his body. It helps the cat land on its feet.
Cats have a fantastic sense of smell, but they have low vision. Whiskers assist cats in spotting things that are behind them by delivering signals to the brain.
Whiskers detect vibrations caused by airstream and act as a beacon. It alarms the cat to the presence of prey, predators, or the place of his pack. It assists a cat hunt at night by providing vision and prevents the cat from hitting something.
Emotional communicational tool
Whiskers can state mood. If the whiskers are sticking out sideways, it indicates that the cat may be feeling happy and calm. The cat gets excited when whiskers move forward. Stay alert if they lay flat against the cat’s cheeks- the cat is angry or scared.
Whiskers have sensitive hairs that give a quick response when it touches an object. When a tiny particle that could be harmful falls on a cat’s whisker, it will shake its head and throw it off. This quick response saves the eye from even a tiny dust particle. This is how whiskers help the cat stay out of trouble.
Whiskers help with hunting
The whiskers on the leg of a cat aid in climbing; it allows the cat to contact the prey. In other words, it acts as another set of eyes when determining where to deliver the attack.
Whiskers assist in orientation
Whiskers help a cat to position itself in the surroundings. They help your cat determine where the body and limbs are, which gives the cat better stability.
Distance measuring tool
Cat’s whiskers help him in measuring distance. It can assist him in judging how long he needs to jump on an object. Moreover, whiskers also give the cat precision and agility while moving around.
However, whiskers have another significant function. It helps the cat determine whether it can fit into a specific space. When a cat is attempting to get into a room and feels force against his whiskers, he knows the space is tiny for him.
Whiskers can change color
Like human hair go grey with age, a cat’s whisker can show signs of aging. It does not happen, but sometimes their whiskers can change to dark or grey.
It aids with close up vision
The cat’s close-up eye is not very good, and they cannot see objects that are closer than around 30cm in front of them. So, they use their whiskers to navigate intimate items by touching them. They can also tell the size of the object, place, and even texture.
Whiskers are very sensitive
Cat whiskers connect with the skin more than other parts of the body. It has an ample supply of blood and nerves and is very sensitive. They also enable cats to detect even the minutest of change in their body. Due to its sensitivity, it can sense pain if you mess with its whiskers.
Cat whiskers connect with the brain, which helps in transmitting data from touch sensors. Around 40% of the brain’s auditory area sync with body parts, which consist of whiskers. It shows that whiskers play a crucial role in neurological function. Since’ whiskers are so vital to a cat’s ability to function well, it needs protection.
It would be best if you never cut your cat’s whiskers. Because of all the superpowers it provides, it is important not to mess with them. They are vital for various things that if you trim them off, the cat can get disoriented and scared. They would be unable to gauge or sense their environment.
Whiskers are not only exclusive to cats; most mammals have whiskers in their body. They help the animals find food and navigate through dark terrain. It explains why whiskers are essential for animals to function better.
So, now you have come to know how vital whiskers are for cats. Track the cat’s behavior and notice how it uses its whiskers as they are a crucial part of them, enabling them to survive in their surroundings!