Feline Fun Friday – The Real Purpose of Cat Whiskers

One of the cutest features of a cat might be her whiskers. A cat’s whiskers add such charm to those sweet kitty faces, but what is their purpose? Why do cats have whiskers?

I always thought/heard/read that whiskers kept a cat from getting caught in a too-small space. Whiskers are a cat’s guide to where they can and can’t—should and shouldn’t–try to squeeze into. Isn’t that what you thought? But if this is true, then how is it that cats manage to squirm into very small vases and jars and boxes like a blob of Jell-O? Have you seen the cats that ooze themselves under a closed door—yes, through a space of mere inches? If the cat were to rely on her whiskers to determine the possibility of scrunching their head and whole body through that space, they’d never try it. So is that bit of whisker information we’ve heard for years a myth?

I suppose whiskers do help cats navigate in the dark. A cat’s whiskers are very sensitive and serve as sensors to the world and atmosphere around them. Whiskers also help with balance. A cat’s whiskers are radar sensors. They’re sensitive enough to detect subtle changes in air currents and vibrations—helping to keep a cat safe, while also alerting them to danger or nearby prey. Yes, whiskers do help to keep a cat out of trouble—aiding in their navigation.

So why do cats sometimes crawl and ooze into small spaces? Why don’t their whiskers warn them not to do that? I guess sometimes their sense of curiosity outweighs the intelligence in their whiskers. Here’s an interesting article about the cat’s whiskers. It even tells us how many whiskers a cat has and how each whisker is connected to the brain. Fascinating stuff. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/why-do-cats-have-whiskers

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