The muzzle of our feline friends, as well as other animals (rodents, dogs and seals) is characterized by the presence of long and thick whiskers.
The cat’s whiskers, as they are commonly called, have a specific function and tell us a lot about the cat’s state of health.
What are cat whiskers?
What we commonly call cat whiskers are actually vibrissae. The term comes from the Latin word “vibrate” and they are tactile and sensory organs made up of stalks, the end of which is sensitive to external stimuli. The cat’s whiskers are long, pointed and twice as thick as those of other felines. Each cat has 24 whiskers, 12 on each side, distributed in four independent rows, with deep growing roots to increase the transmission of nerve impulses.
What is the function of the cat’s whiskers?
The primary function of the cat’s whiskers is to provide information about its environment. Through their whiskers, cats detect the presence, the distance and the size of objects in front of them or air movements that signal possible prey and the room temperature.
It is thanks to their whiskers that cats are able to move around safely even in the dark and in unfamiliar places, as they do not need to see or touch things to understand their size.
How important are whiskers for cats?
Because of their function as a sensory organ, a cat’s whiskers are essential. Without them, the cat cannot live independently and therefore they should not be cut or shortened. It is normal for cats to lose a few whiskers, which then grow back, but if they lose a lot, it is advisable to consult your vet. Dropping whiskers can be a sign of allergy, infection or stress.
What do cat whiskers tell us?
Your cat’s whiskers give us important information about his mood. If they are stiff, curled up towards each other or pulled back, the cat may feel threatened, upset or anxious and may even attack. If, on the other hand, they are turned forward and outwards, then the cat is calm and at ease.
It can be said, therefore, that the cat’s whiskers receive stimuli from outside and are indispensable for its life.