Cat Whiskers Facts and FAQs

What are cat whiskers – meaning?

Also known as vibrissae or tactile hairs, whiskers are the thicker, longer, deeply embedded hairs that have many nerves and muscular base (in their follicles)

They are made of keratin and found on various animals including cats, dogs, rabbits, rodents, hamsters and so on. Human beings do not have them.

Where do cats have whiskers?

They have them on the side of their face on the upper lip (whisker pad), above their eyes (eyebrow area) and on their chin or jaw areas.

Additionally, these animals have the carpal whiskers located on the back side of their leg, just beneath their wrist or above their paws.

Cat whiskers
Cat whiskers

Are there whiskers on kittens?

Yes, just like in the case of adult cats, kittens also have them. Those on kittens play a similar role and they are on similar locations as an adult cat. They are also found in the same locations as adult felines.

What do cat whiskers do or what do they use them for?

They are important in giving your furry friend a sense of security and help in navigation especially in places they cannot see properly. Some of their main purpose or functions include the following:

a). Sensing and feeling

By touching or brushing against objects, these pets will know not only the location but also texture and size of various objects without even seeing them. This makes them be aware of their surrounding environment and they can detect even subtle changes.

This helps in gauge if they can pass through an opening, in hunting, detect any approaching predator by sensing air movements, among other sensory roles.

b). For communication

They are used to relay various cat moods such as whey he or she is scared, startled, excited, about to be aggressive, hunting and so on.

For instance, when these pets are scared or nervous, they will tend to bunch them together and flatten them back next to their face and their ears will also be backward. However, if they are hunting or playing, they will be pointed forward.

Also, if they are on high alert, they will be pointing completely forward, and their fur ends will stand up.

Finally, if you notice their vibrissae pointed outwards and are less spread, your feline friend is probably relaxed.

How many rows of whiskers does a cat have?

They have four rows on each side of their muzzle i.e, on the sides of their upper lips. Each of this side has 12 vibrissae.

Additionally, they also have others on their jaw, above eyes and on the back side of their front legs.

Do cat whiskers have nerves

No, they do not have nerve inside them. However, their hair follicles have the proprioceptor, a kind of nerves that detects movement and position of the vibrissae with the help of the muscles found on the hair follicle.

When the vibrissae move, the muscles in their follicle vibrate and the proprioceptor picks the signals and sends them to the nervous system.

Do cat whiskers help them balance?

No, they are not involved in balance it occurs in the inner ears. Therefore, cutting them off will not make your feline friend lose balance.

However, as already mentioned, they have vital roles and trimming them off may make this animal feel disoriented and as well as afraid. However, they will not lose balance if they do not them.

What is the approximate cat whisker length?

Their longest vibrissae are located on either side of their mouth, specifically on the upper lips. Their length or how much they project outwards is comparable their body width. Usually, those above their eyes, on chin and forelegs are much shorter.

However, their length and width seem to be genetically controlled since they do not increase in length or decrease as felines gains or losses weight.

How long is the longest cat whisker?

The holder of the Guinness World Record for the longest whisker is a cat known as “Fullmoon’s Miss American Pie” or “Missi” owned by Kaija Kyllönen.

Missi’s longest vibrissae measured 19cm or 7.5 inches measured in 22nd December 2005! This Maine coon breed is from Finland, was born on December 30th, 2001.

Why are my cat’s whiskers so long?

Their length will depend on its size genetics as well as breed. Some feline breeds with long ones include the Maine Coon. They have been noted to have longer vibrissae when compared to others.

There is nothing such as very long vibrissae since they are comparable to their body width.

Finally, while being longer may make them look unique, their length is not always a good thing since it increases the chances of them being entangled in things and breaking off.

Why are my cat’s whiskers greying?

In most cases, they tend to have a similar color to their coat or lighter. However, it is possible for you to notice grey whiskers on cats that are totally black especially as they age or color change especially to those with a black solid color.

If you carefully observe, you will notice that most felines have white whiskers or much lighter except for those with densely black or dark colors.

Do cats have whiskers on their paws?

The most precise answer is no. They have them on the backside of their forelimbs just above their paws and not on their paws.

They are essential in detecting prey movement and if it is in a position when your cat can bite it.

Are cat’s whiskers sensitive?

Yes, they are highly sensitive owing to the dense nerve network they have in their follicles. They also have a dense blood vessel network.

They can detect texture, size, and proximity of objects as well as pick wind movement. Any of their movement will be detected by the touch receptors at its follicle. However as already noted, the vibrissae themselves do not have nerves and are not painful if you cut them.

Do all cats have whiskers?

Nearly all breeds have them. Perhaps the Sphynx cat breed which is a hairless breed which whose “whiskers may be present, either whole or broken, or may be totally absent, notes Wikipedia.

Do queens chew their kitten’s whiskers

It is a very rare happening. The exact cause is not known. However, it is assumed is a means to stop them from wandering too far.

See also

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