Why Cats Have Whiskers

Here is why you should never touch the whiskers of your cat!

Cats are very adorable domestic animals hence the reason why most people keep them as pests. Their elegance coupled with a unique fur of variant colours gives them a beautiful physique. These animals are very agile though with a high sense of tranquility. For some reasons, cats have whiskers that contribute to their impressive athletic abilities. But why do cats have whiskers?

What are whiskers?

Most people confuse them to be similar to human hair. However, unlike the moustache of a man, they are not to be associated with fashion. Whiskers are tactile hair like projections from the muzzle of a cat. They can also grow behind the front legs, in the ears, jaws and above the eyes.

Are cats the only animals with whiskers?

Of course not! Some species of mammals also have whiskers. A very good example is the primates. Scientists believe that these animals developed whiskers particularly as a nocturnal sensory adaptation. Some other animals like the dog also have whiskers.

Why do cats have whiskers?

The whiskers of a cat are very important for a variety of reasons. The following reasons summarizes what a cat uses its whiskers for.

Hunting

Whiskers enable cats to understand their environment. They are useful in detecting the location and size of an object. They can also detect texture. Usually, the cat achieves this by brushing its whiskers against an object, or feeling the air currents. Hence, the cat is also capable of detecting approaching objects even with the eyes closed.

Means of communication

When a cat feels threatened, it will retract its whiskers and make them stout. This clearly warns the intruder to stay away lest they experience the true opposite of mercy. However, when the whiskers of a cat are relaxed, it indicates that the cat is peaceful and satisfied.

For navigation

The length of the whiskers of a cat is equally as long as the breadth of a cat. This not only helps the cat to move around but also enable the cat to figure out if it can fit in a certain space.

Athletic abilities

The acrobatics of a cat do not just come easy. It takes accurate calculation of location and acute sense of touch to help the cat manoeuvre through the almost impossible angles.

Here is what you should not do

  1. You should not shave the whiskers of your cat

Cutting, shaving or trimming the whiskers of your cat will interfere with the sensory mechanisms of your cat. Your cat will then cease to perform any awesome manoeuvres. Besides, it will be difficult for them to locate prey or find their way in the dark.

  1. You should not pull the whiskers of your cat

This is very dangerous. The whiskers are very sensitive. You can agitate your cat and it can bite you or you can escape with minor scratches and bruises if you are lucky. Additionally, those whiskers are deeply rooted in the skin of a cat close to the nerve endings. Therefore, you can not only unnecessary pain your cat but also cause damage to the skin of your cat.

It is important that you take good care of your cat. Feed them well and always ensure that they are clean. Above all, thou shall not shave the whiskers of your cat! Because you now know why cats have whisker, right?