why does cats have whiskers

Why do cats have whiskers?

Whether it’s for guiding them through tight spaces, or just to make them look even cuter, you might have wondered why does cats have whiskers… read on to find out.

Some cats are pets, while others live in the wild. Regardless of where they live, all cats have whiskers. This article will explore the purpose of a cat’s whiskers and why they’re so important to these furry creatures.

What are Whiskers?

Whiskers are long, thick hairs that grow on the sides of a cat’s face. Unlike the rest of a cat’s fur, which is soft and silky, whiskers are coarse and stiff. Whiskers are also much longer than the fur on a cat’s body, with some measuring up to four inches in length.

While all cats have whiskers, not all whiskers are alike. There are three different types of whiskers on a cat’s face:

Front whiskers:

These are the longest and most prominent whiskers on a cat’s face. They grow just above the eyes and are used to gauge the width of openings and passages.

Middle whiskers

Also known as vibrissae, these whiskers are shorter than front whiskers but longer than back whiskers. Middle whiskers are located on the cheeks, just below the front whiskers.

Back whiskers

These are also called bristle hairs. These are the shortest and least noticeable whiskers on a cat’s face. Back whiskers grow on the jawline and help a cat sense movement behind it.

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Why Do Cat Have Whiskers?

While whiskers may seem like nothing more than long hairs, they serve an important purpose for cats. Whiskers are highly sensitive and help a cat navigate its surroundings, hunt for prey, and communicate with other cats.

1. Navigation

One of the most important functions of a cat’s whiskers is navigation. Whiskers are sensitive to touch and can detect even the slightest changes in air currents. This allows cats to gauge the width of openings and passageways and helps them avoid getting stuck.

2. Hunting

Whiskers also play an important role in hunting. Cats use their whiskers to detect movement and identify prey. When hunting, a cat will lower its head and bring its whiskers forward. This allows the whiskers to act as feelers, helping the cat locate and capture its prey.

3. Communication

In addition to navigation and hunting, whiskers also help cats communicate with other cats. Whiskers are used to convey various messages, such as aggression, fear, and submission. For example, a cat that lowers its whiskers and flattens its ears usually feels threatened or aggressive.

4. Grooming

While not as common, some cats also use their whiskers to help groom themselves. A cat will often use its whiskers to remove dirt and debris from its fur when cleaning.

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5. Temperature Regulation

Whiskers also help cats regulate their body temperature. Whiskers are filled with blood vessels and are very sensitive to changes in temperature. When it’s cold, the blood vessels in the whiskers constrict, trapping heat near the face and helping keep the cat warm. When it’s hot, the blood vessels dilate, allowing heat to escape and help keep the cat cool.

6. Sense of Touch

Lastly, whiskers help cats detect changes in their environment. Whiskers are connected to the cat’s nervous system and are very sensitive to touch. This allows cats to sense even the slightest changes in their surroundings, such as a gust of wind or a nearby predator.

Final remarks on why cats have whiskers

Despite their small size, whiskers play a big role in a cat’s life. These furry creatures use their whiskers to navigate their surroundings, hunt for prey and communicate with other cats. So the next time you see a cat with its whiskers out, remember that these furry creatures are relying on them to help them get through the day.