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Albuquerque VetCo

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Why cats have whiskers

albuquerque catWhiskers are such fun things that stick off your cat’s face in all direction. As a kid, we often loved to pet them or touch them to watch the cat twitch. It was almost like they tickled. But whiskers are more important than just tickling devices.

How They Work

Each thick whisker is filled with tiny, super sensitive nerves that help your cat judge distance and space. Is this box too small to get inside? How far do I need to jump to reach that counter?

It’s also how she detects what’s around her. Cats that are blind can walk around a room just fine by using their whiskers to sense the space.

The follicles are little sacs that hold the whisker hairs. These are deeper than regular fur and these sacs have nerve endings that send messages to the brain. There is also a sensory organ at the tip of each whisker that picks up environmental vibrations which give more information about her surroundings.

Most whiskers are in the cats upper lip, but there are smaller ones in their eyebrows and around their chin. There are even whiskers near their feet. The ones on the sides of the nose are the same width as your cat’s body; they help her figure out whether a space is wide enough to squeeze through. Whiskers on the back of the legs help your cat climb trees.

Whiskers the feline mood ring

Whiskers have complex muscles attached to them. By watching what their whiskers do you can tell what mood yoru cat is in. If she is curious, they will be angled forward. If she is relaxed they will stick straight out. If she is nervous or upset she will pin them back towards her face.

Don’t cut her whiskers!

Whiskers do not need to be trimmed. They will shed, and this is normal. But cutting their whiskers changes their ability to sense their surroundings properly. It can cause them to become anxious and disoriented. It is similar to blindfolding them.

If you have questions about your cat’s whiskers or their health, please call our Albuquerque veterinary clinic: 505-292-3030.