Our feline pals come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but they have some things in common, such as cattitude, a love of boxes, and whiskers! Whiskers are much more than decorative long hairs sprouting from Fluffy’s adorable face. They are actually essential for all sorts of daily functions. Read on as your local veterinarian tells you more about these important (and super cute) sensory tools.
Fluffy’s whiskers are rooted more deeply into the skin than her normal hairs. There is a group of nerve endings at the base of each one. This makes them extremely sensitive. Whiskers are found on the chin, ears, eyebrow area, and even the forelegs.
Your feline buddy will use her whiskers to determine the location, size, and texture of objects in her environment. She can also use them to detect changes in air currents. All of this sensory information helps your little buddy get a clear picture of her surroundings, even if it’s pitch black. Fluffy will also use this information to determine whether or not she can fit into tight spaces, as the whiskers along the nose are about the length of her body’s width. (This sometimes backfires for fat cats, but that’s another topic.)
Your cat’s whiskers can give you some insight into how she’s feeling. When Fluffy’s whiskers are pulled back tightly across the face, she is probably feeling alarmed or threatened. This ‘purrticular’ whisker position might be accompanied by wide eyes, raised ears, and a puffed tail.
When your cat’s whiskers are relaxed and pointing sideways away from the face area, as they probably are most of the time, it means your furry friend is content.
Try to get a good look at your kitty’s whiskers the next time she hears a strange sound or the bark of a neighbor’s dog. If you look closely, you’ll notice that they will probably be adjusted a bit from their normal position.
Cats do shed their whiskers occasionally, but you should never attempt to cut or trim them yourself. If you do, you would be removing crucial sensory information that your cat needs. Your furball could experience dizziness, confusion, and disorientation, and she could have trouble jumping or balancing. It would be like someone suddenly removing your sense of touch or sight—you wouldn’t like it, either!
Does your cat need veterinary care? That’s where we come in. Make an appointment at the office today.