Whiskers, tactile hairs or vibrissae are the long, thicker, highly sensitive hairs commonly found on the face and other places on most mammals such as cats, dogs, rats, rabbits, chinchillas including all primates except human beings.
They usually have deeper hair follicles with a dense blood capillary and nerve networks to help them detect any of their movements.
In cats, they are found on the sides of their upper lips, on their chin or jaw area, on the backside of their front limbs just above their paws and above their eyes.
Those above their eyes are those that are found where eyebrows are often found on human beings. They are somewhat long and points upwards.
Like other vibrissae, their primary role is to help in sensing and feeling. However, owing to their location, they may also help in protecting this animal’s eyes in various.
They “help when the cat is hunting in grass or bushy areas.” They do so by triggering a blink should any grass, twig or branch tough them hence protecting eyes from injuries including scratches.
Similarly, they also help in case of contact with another animal or object since they will detect the moving animal and trigger blinking including when you try to carry them or go near their eyes or there is falling dust, particles, specks, and so on.
Owing to their above importance or functions, it is advisable you do not try to cut or trim them off even if they look long or curled such as those found on Devon Rex, Selkirk Rex, Cornish Rex or the LaPerm. Your kitties will feel insecure and may be very disoriented.
However, in cases they accidentally break or get plucked, do not be worried, they will grow back after some weeks.
Finally, it is normal for a few usually one or two to be shed. This is a normal part of the shedding process that occurs to every other fur on your feline friend’s coat.