Whiskers make your kitten look extra adorable, but they are not attached for aesthetic purposes. They have an important function. Why do cats have whiskers? Mainly, to keep them safe.
What is the main purpose of whiskers?
Whiskers are highly sensitive. They are touch receptors that grow from the muzzle, ears, jaw, and forelegs. Also referred to as vibrissae, these stiff hairs are embedded deeply in the cat’s body.
Unlike fur, whiskers connect to the cat’s muscular and nervous systems, which sends information about their surroundings to their sensory nerves. When a cat brushes its whiskers against something, it can predict the texture, size, and location of what it has just touched. This helps it move around in the dark.
This is also why cats are able to squeeze into such tight spaces. As soon as its whiskers brush up against a space, it is able to tell whether it could fit or whether it would become stuck.
Their whiskers also help them measure distance so they can tell whether or not they will be able to make a leap across the room or a jump onto a counter. The reason why cats appear so graceful is because of all the information their whiskers provide them with.
What other purposes do whiskers serve?
Whiskers can help a cat detect changes in air currents, which can help keep it out of danger, because it will be able to predict when a predator is approaching. It can also help them chase prey and pounce, because they will be able to tell which direction a mouse or mosquito is moving. They have an extra advantage, even in the dark.
If you pay close attention to your cat, then its whiskers can also reveal its emotion.
When the whiskers are pulled back across its face, it feels threatened.
When the whiskers are relaxed and pointed away from its face, it feels safe.
When the whiskers are pointed forward, it is ready to hunt. You will probably notice this happening the next time you throw a toy around for it to chase or when it spots a fly buzzing around the house and hopes to catch it.
Can you trim a cat’s whiskers?
Although you might head to the groomers to have your cat’s fur trimmed, you should never cut their whiskers.
Without their tactile hairs, they will have a harder time moving around. They will become disoriented. They will become scared. They might end up bumping into objects when they walk around in the dark and they might end up getting themselves stuck somewhere they cannot fit.
Even though a cat will grow back their whiskers eventually, they are going to spend weeks without proper knowledge of their environment, which could put them in danger. Taking away a cat’s whiskers is like taking away a human’s sense of touch.
Make sure you never trim your cat’s whiskers, because they serve an important purpose. They make it much easier for your cat to explore your home safely. They keep your kitten healthy.