Monday, February 27, 2012
Cat whiskers are extremely cute, but they don't exist just to make Kitty look gorgeous. Whiskers are found on Kitty's cheeks, eyebrows, chin and behind his wrists. They're easy to spot - they are 2 or 3 times thicker than normal cat hair, and a lot longer (especially on his cheeks).
Cat whiskers are very deep rooted into Kitty's skin. They're rooted at a level that's very rich in blood vessels and nerve endings, so they are very sensitive.
So let's look at how Kitty uses his whiskers on his cheeks in his day to day life.
1) Judging if he can fit through an opening
If you look at Kitty's whiskers, you'll notice they extend out to about the same width as his body. The tips of his whiskers sense pressure, so Kitty will use this to see if he can fit through a space. A cat will often stick his head into an opening before he goes through it; he's using his whiskers to judge the space.
Whiskers grow to the width of the cat for this reason. So fat cats have longer whiskers than thinner cats.
2) Navigation, especially in the dark
Have you ever marveled at how a cat can confidently trot through a room in the pitch black and not bump into anything? Cat eyes are designed for great night vision, but this isn't the only reason cats are so skillful in the dark.
Cats' whiskers detect tiny changes in air currents, which helps them to locate where people and objects are. So as your cat approaches a chair, for example, his whiskers will detect air current changes which are present as a result of the chair being there. The result? He'll walk round the chair rather than into it!
3) Cat Body Language
Kitty's whiskers can act as a measure of his mood. If his whiskers are in a forward position, he's relaxed, happy or curious. If they're pulled back, he's defensive or aggressive.
What if his whiskers fall out?
Cat whiskers fall out from time to time, but they are replaced just like all other hair. Kitty's whiskers should never be cut or trimmed, as they're such an important navigation and spatial tool for him. Cutting them could put him in danger.
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Source: cat behavior explained