Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?
27 January, 2016

Cats are such beautiful pets and each cat has his own personality, look, and temperament. All cats do have many of the same physical traits and attributes, such as your cats’ whiskers. And most cat owners, including myself, love the look a cat’s whiskers but have never really thought about why cats actually have whiskers.

Cats use their whiskers for a wide variety of functions. Whiskers provide some of the most important way for cats to gather information about their environment. Cats also use whiskers to communicate their emotions. Further, cats use their whiskers as a sort of navigational tool which is why it is critical to never trim or cut them off.

Some fun and useful facts about your cat’s whiskers!

Cats use their whiskers to navigate and feel their way around

Whiskers help a cat feel his way around. Whiskers are so sensitive that they can detect the slightest change in an air current or breeze. The air current in a room changes according to where things are located. As a cat walks through a room and approaches a couch, chair or table, your cat knows which direction to turn based on the change in the air current and/or direction of the furniture.

Whiskers help measure openings

Whiskers also help our cats measure an opening. Our kitties love to climb through things and in and out of closets, doorways and narrow areas. The whiskers give our cats the information they need to make sure that they can fit through the opening. Most cats’ whiskers are approximately the diameter of his or her body width.

Whiskers are used to communicate and are a mood indicator

Cats communicate with their whiskers and are also a great mood indicator. Understanding or being able to monitor your cat’s whiskers will give you some good information about your cat’s mood and if they are open to playing or want to be left alone.

When a cat is angry or feels defensive, his or her whiskers will be pulled back. Frightened cats hold their whiskers back against their cheeks to appear less threatening, while angry cats also pull back their whiskers. Otherwise, when the cat is happy, curious or content, the whiskers will be more relaxed and pushed forward. This is a good time to play, cuddle and hang out with your feline friend.

Cats are unable to function without whiskers

Without whiskers, cats can become confused and often get lost. Whiskers help guide them in the dark to avoid running into objects. Whiskers are a vital part of a cat’s mobility and sense of security. Without whiskers, cats would not be able jump around and/or protect themselves from dangerous situations.

Never cut your cat’s whiskers!

It is important to leave your cat’s whiskers alone and never cut them. Cats are at a great disadvantage without their whiskers as they depend on them for so many things. Your cat may lose whiskers from time to time, but not to worry. Whiskers normally shed like other hairs in your cat’s coat.

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