Amazing Feline Sensory Devices
All about cat whiskers is everything every cat owner ever wanted to know about those beautiful whiskers on their cats face. They brush by our face each morning and tickle our nose, but what fascinating facts do we not know about these amazing feline sensory devices? Cats truly are a work of art.
What’s In A Name
The word “whisker” dates as far back to 1600 from an English word “wisker” meaning anything that sweeps like a broom. Technically, whiskers are also called “vibrissae” or tactile hairs.
Location, Location, Location
There are usually 8-12 cat whiskers found on either side of the cat’s nose. These are known as mystacial whiskers. Mystacial whiskers are connected to muscles that allow the cat to move them.
In addition, there are whiskers on the jaw, above the eyes and on the back of the forelegs. The whiskers on the back of the forelegs assist a cat in climbing help when the cat is in contact with prey. The often act whiskers act as another set of eyes.
Cat whiskers are two to three times thicker than regular cat hair and are deeply connected to the cat’s nervous system. The whisker tips have sensory organs that can determine an object’s distance, direction, and texture. These sensory organs are known as the “proprioceptors”.
If a cat is nervous or alert, then its whiskers will be pointing forward at a potential threat. Whiskers tucked close to the face indicate that a cat is afraid. Relaxed and droopy whiskers indicate a calm and happy cat.
Yes – Whisker Stress is a real thing!
If a cat is made to use a narrow food or water bowl, the pressure to its sensitive whiskers can cause what is known as “whisker stress.”
If your cat scoops food out, or is constantly sticking its paw in the water bowl, or knocks food on the floor to eat, consider using a wider bowl.
Remember: The whiskers on your cat’s nose are generally about as long as your cat is wide. They need ROOM to eat – so they need a wide bowl. That does not mean you need to fill that bowl with more food. Same amount of food, just a wider bowl.
I personally use a “raised” food bowl prefer a water fountain for my cat. You can read more about that in and other cat care tips in 9 Tips For Senior Cat Care.
Never Cut A Whisker!
Never, trim, cut, pluck or do anything to remove a cat’s whisker – EVER! It would be the equivalent of a human losing their sense of touch or vision. The cat could become very distraught and disoriented. DO NOT DO IT!
Other Whisker Details
From time to time, your cat may shed a couple of whiskers on their own. They will grow back on when they shed naturally.
Also, as your cat ages, the whiskers may turn grey, This may be difficult to notice, depending on the color of your cat. This is perfectly normal.
I began writing this because I found a whisker on the bathroom floor. So worried by this little whisker, I began to investigate. Then I decided to blog my findings because if it happened to me it surely happened to another cat owner wondering was it ok to have that little whisker on the bathroom floor.
Once again, the feline world is truly amazing and never ceases to teach me something new. I hope you found something here you enjoyed.
Until next time….Happy Tails to you!