What Cat Whiskers Are For: Why Trimming Your Pet's Whiskers Is A Bad Idea - Cat Loaf | kitty bread (2023)

Don't you agree that whiskers add extra character to a cat's facial expression? However, if you've ever wondered what cat whiskers are for, they're not just aesthetic. Cat whiskers perform a variety of functions and your cat would not be the same without them.

Knowing what those cute whiskers are for will help you understand why your cat values ​​his whiskers so much. In fact, you might think of cat whiskers as the reason why cats often display supernatural powers. And it will help you understand why trimming a cat's whiskers is a bad idea.

In this article, we will first give a brief overview of cat whisker anatomy. Next, let's dive into the various ways your cat uses its whiskers. We'll also talk about whisker stress in cats and why you should never trim your cat's whiskers.

cat mustache anatomy

Vibrisase is the technical term for cat's whiskers. There is a big difference between human hair and vibrissae. Or even cat whiskers and ordinary cat hair.

Nº 1: Thickness, Length and Shape

Cat whiskers are thicker because they contain proprioceptors, which can be thought of as tactile receptors.

Also, if you measure your pet's whiskers from the tip of one side to the tip of the other side, you'll see that the overall length matches the width of your pet's body. And there is a special reason for this, which we will talk about later.

The current Guinness World Record for the longest cat whiskers is 7.5 inches. The record holder is aMaine Cooncalled miss.

Not all cat whiskers are straight. EITHERLaPerm,Devon Rex, miCornish Rexthey are all known to have curly mustaches. If your cat doesn't normally have curly whiskers, but some have turned curly, it could be due to damage or stress. It's a little uncomfortable for your pet, but the mustache will grow and straighten.

#2: Nerve Endings

Cat whiskers are also called tactile hairs because they contain nerve endings that amplify a cat's sense of touch. Each wire is connected to your pet's nervous system, while the tip contains proprioceptors that tell your cat the direction and distance of an object.

Additionally, cat vibrissae are securely connected to your cat's nervous and muscular systems. Every time your cat detects something with its whiskers, the information is immediately sent to your pet's sensory nerves.

Thus, all information about your pet's immediate environment is immediately processed by his brain. Basically, your pet's whiskers give him a keen sense of what's going on around him. It's like your pet has its own radar system.


Your cat's whiskers are also connected to your pet's muscles. This means that your cat can move his whiskers as if they were extra hands. And your pet can move the upper lines of his whiskers independently of the lower lines.

#3: The number of whiskers a cat has

The usual number of whiskers found on each side of your pet's muzzle is twelve. However, some cats are over twelve.

When we say cat whiskers, you probably just think of the prominent mixed hairs on your cat's face. But cats also have whiskers on other parts of their bodies. You'll find shorter whiskers above each of your pet's eyes.

Cats also have whiskers on the back of their front legs, as well as on their lower jaws. The ones on the back of their front legs really help them when they are climbing and are also used for hunting.

Cat whiskers, what are they for?

You can think of cat whiskers as additional sensory and communication tools. These are some of the most important functions of cat whiskers.

#1: The Fifth Sense

The area around the roots of each mustache hair is full of sinews and generously supplied with blood. Because of this, your cat's whiskers are extremely sensitive.

In fact, they are so sensitive that they can even detect changes in air currents or the direction of a breeze. This is one reason your cat may develop whisker stress if their whiskers are constantly rubbing against the surface of their food dish.

#2: Adapt to a small space

Have you ever wondered how your cat knows if he is going to fit in a small space or not? Cats can tell this right away through their whiskers.

Since cats' whiskers are as wide as their bodies, the whiskers help your cat judge whether or not to fit into that tight space. If he feels his whiskers press against his face, he knows he won't fit in the space.

Before entering a confined space, your cat will check the whiskers. He first he will test the space with his head forward. If he thinks his head fits and the whiskers don't touch the sides, he'll know he can fit there.

#3: Positioning Prey

Cat whiskers allow your pet to hunt efficiently. Outdoor cats are generally myopic and anything too close to their eyes can be blurred, so they rely on their whiskers.


Your pet's whiskers tell you about vibrations in the air, which is important when your cat is chasing prey.

When your pet is hunting, they will likely point their whiskers forward. Yeah, you can wiggle those whiskers if you want. By having the whiskers forward, your cat can feel what is happening in front of him. He will also be able to feel vibrations in the air caused by running prey.

Whiskers help your cat know if its prey is in the correct position so it can deliver the fatal bite. The whiskers found on the back of your cat's front legs are what primarily help him position his prey. But whiskers on your pet's chin, as well as those on the side of the chin, help too.

No. 4: Emotional Barometer

The way your cat's whiskers are positioned can say a lot about your cat's mood. When your cat is feeling calm, his whiskers will look relaxed and stick out to the sides.

When your pet is resting and satisfied, such as when it has just eaten, its whiskers will be immobile. However, if your pet's whiskers are forward, it means that he is really alert and excited.

When all the whiskers are pointing forward, it could be a sign that your pet is in hunting mode and is wearing its hunting face. Be careful when their whiskers are flattened against their cheeks. It means that your pet is angry or scared.

#5: Accurate Navigation

If you've ever wondered how cats manage to find their way around even when it's pitch dark, they rely on their whiskers as much as their eyes.

Sure, cats can see just fine in the dark, but as we explained above, they can be nearsighted or farsighted depending on whether they live indoors or outdoors, so they need help navigating. When you are in the dark, you grope with your hands. Cats do this by using their whiskers.

The proprioceptors found in cats' whiskers are actually related to the position of the cat's limbs and body. This means that thanks to the whiskers, your cat knows exactly where each part of its body is. This allows your pet to make split-second decisions, especially regarding the next immediate move.

Try to see your pet jump from one place to another in the blink of an eye. How your cat knows exactly where to place his paw next or how to keep his balance is all thanks to his extraordinary whiskers. And yes, cat whiskers also allow your pet to visually gauge the distance to an object.

See also:How cats always land on their feet

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No. 6: Feedback Mechanism

Whiskers provide cats with feedback about their surroundings so they can respond accordingly.

For example, when something brushes the whiskers over your cat's eyes, it triggers a blink response. While your cat blinks, his eyes are protected from anything brushing against his whiskers.

How to care for your cat's whiskers

Yes, there is mustache stress. Any time your cat's whiskers come in contact with objects like the surface of a narrow food dish, the whiskers are stressed. Trimming your cat's whiskers isn't a good idea either, and here's why:

#1: Mustache Stress Prevention

Although cats can control the sensory focus of their whiskers, most of the time they respond to the autonomic nervous system. In short, whiskers respond to environmental stimuli even without your pet's conscious control.

So if there's a lot going on in your pet's environment, it can cause information overload in their whiskers. Also, every time your pet comes into contact with an object, sensory messages are immediately transmitted from the proprioceptors to the brain.

Your cat feels every movement around her, whether it's vibrations in the air, changes in the air current, or even a feather brushing her cheeks. All these sensations are received by the proprioceptors in their whiskers and transmitted to the brain.

This deluge of information can stress your pet, causing stress or whisker fatigue. As mentioned above, even when your cat is simply feeding, if their whiskers are constantly touching the side of your feeder or waterer, this can also cause whisker stress.

If you see your pet walking past his food bowl but hesitate to eat, your pet may not want his whiskers to touch the side of his food bowl again because it's too uncomfortable for him.

Some cats, instead of walking in front of the food bowl, will paw the bowl until the food falls to the ground. So that's when they will start eating. This type of behavior shows that your cat knows that eating from the bowl may cause pain or discomfort. This can also be a sign of mustache stress.

Other signs of mustache stress include leaving food in his bowl even when he's obviously still hungry. Your pet may also soil the bowl while feeding. Or, your pet may approach his food or water dish cautiously, as if he's eager to hurt himself if he gets close.

If you see your cat doing this, consider replacing the food bowl with a shallow dish. For your water bowl, you can replace it with something wider. Even if your cat is not showing signs of whisker stress, it would be a good idea to replace her bowls, just to avoid whisker stress.

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Another way to avoid whisker stress is to provide your pet with a cat water bottle. Many cats prefer to drink from a running fountain rather than a bowl.

See also:homemade water fountain for cats

#2: Why You Should Never Trim Your Pet's Whiskers

Without whiskers, your cat could never perform all the stunts you admire him for. Whiskers provide cats with vital information about their surroundings, and this is just one reason why you shouldn't trim your pet's whiskers.

When you trim your pet's whiskers, they can become dizzy and disoriented. That's because, without the whiskers, you're deprived of all the important navigation cues you need. If you can imagine what it would be like to navigate your environment blindfolded, here's what will happen to your pet if you trim their whiskers.

#3: Know when not to worry

If you see your pet lose one or two whiskers, it is normal. Cats' whiskers fall out, but they also grow back. Your pet's whiskers can also change color. As your pet ages, their whiskers will also turn gray. By the way, oneBombaycats' whiskers are all black, just like their fur color.

If you notice that your pet's whiskers have become curly, don't try to straighten them. It's natural for your whiskers to curl from time to time. As the mustache grows, it begins to straighten.

If you have a Devon Rex, their whiskers will naturally be curly. So it is for that breed, or Cornish Rex and LaPerm. Even if you are tempted to straighten the whiskers for a neat look, avoid doing so as it will be very uncomfortable for your pet.

To involve

Cat whiskers may look cute, but they are actually extremely functional. Do you have any funny stories about your cat's whiskers? Please feel free to share your comments and suggestions with us. To better understand the mechanisms that make up your cute furry friend, check out our next article onhow cats sweat.

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