Cat Whiskers

What is your favorite part of a cat? Maybe you love the tiny pink paw pads. Or, perhaps, the loving gazes from those all-knowing eyes. How about the soft, buttery fur? There are so many lovely bits from which to choose, not the least of which is your cat's whiskers. They are an essential tool she uses to explore her world. Consider the following fascinating facts about these fabulous appendages.

1. You will find whiskers in many places.
Take a look at your cat. It’s easy to see the 12 whiskers most have on either side of their nose, and you’ve probably noted the shorter whiskers above her eyes. But have you ever marveled at the delicate whiskers on her chin and the backs of her front legs?

2. Whiskers may change color.
Just like our hair, a cat’s whiskers may begin to turn white with age. This is usually only noticeable on black or very dark brown cats. Lucky for kitty, she can consider those greys a badge of honor and leave the Clairol alone.

3. Whiskers are very sensitive.
The roots of your cat’s whiskers are located deep within her skin. The numerous nerves at the base of each root enable the amazing sensitivity of the tips. Because of this, some cats do not like to have their whiskers touched. Others prefer to eat off a flat plate, rather than out of a bowl, to avoid disturbing their whiskers.

4. Whiskers keep her out of tight spots.
In general, the whiskers around a cat’s nose are as long as the animal is wide. This enables her to use her whiskers to gauge whether she can fit through a particular opening.

5. Whiskers help her hunt.
Cats do not see as well up close as they do far away. In human terms, this is called being farsighted. It is thought that the whiskers on the chin and the back of the front legs may be used to help kitty sense the position of her prey before the final bite.

6. Whiskers can smile or frown.
The position of a cat’s whiskers can give you an indication of the animal’s mood. If kitty’s cheek whiskers are sticking out jauntily, it means she is calm and happy. If she pushes her whiskers forward, she is excited (look for this the next time she is ready to pounce on a toy). If she flattens them against her cheeks, as when hissing, she is scared or angry.

Have you noticed these things about your cat’s whiskers? Have we left out any fascinating facts? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Julie Perkins

About Julie Perkins

A self-professed "crazy cat lady" and slave to three furry masters, Julie loves all things fuzzy. Throughout her life, she has been owned by cats, dogs, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, fish and even a hermit crab. A freelance writer who has perfected the fine art of typing with one hand (because there is a cat on top of the other one), she lives in Colorado with her husband and a menagerie of critters.

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