Why do cats have whiskers?

Why do cats have whiskers and what do they use them for?

Whiskers are not like normal hair. Whiskers are sophisticated sensory aids. Whiskers are three times thicker than normal hair and they are also longer than the rest of the hair on the cat. Most cats have 12 whiskers below the nose on each side of the face. In addition there are whiskers above the eyes and on the side of the head.

Whiskers are also called vibrissae and are an important part of the cat's body. Unlike regular hair, whiskers connect to the cat's nerves and help them in many ways.

The purpose of whiskers is to help a cat "see" their surroundings better. Whiskers can sense the breeze from movement, they can measure openings where the cat wants to enter, they can determine distances, and they aid the cat in the dark. All this explains why cats can leap from table to table, or walk on a counter full of stuff, yet not knock over or touch a single thing - even if it is dark.

We have also found that by looking at our cat's whiskers, we can tell what mood she is in. If the whiskers are pulled back and strained, that means leave me alone.

I am not in the mood to play or be petted now. However, it the whiskers look relaxed and in their normal position, it means the cat is open for interaction.

PS. Whiskers are like a sense to the cat and you should NEVER cut or trim its whiskers. If you already trimmed your cat's whiskers and feel terrible, give it lots of love and know that the whiskers will eventually grow back. But NEVER trim the whiskers again!

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