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Why Cats Have Whiskers PDF Print E-mail

Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

cat_whiskersCats use whiskers to take in information about their immediate environment—that is the primary purpose of whiskers.

Whiskers are also part of cats' body language. If you can read what these revealing appendages are saying, you're on your way to becoming a "cat whiskerer."

Of course, whiskers look great, too.

Where are Whiskers Located?

We're all familiar with cats' prominent whiskers on their muzzles, which fan out starting near the nose. Did you know that cats also have whiskers above their eyes, on the sides of their faces, on their chins, and on the back of their front legs?

Whiskers Are Like Antennae

Whiskers are highly sensitive, filled with sensory nerves that detect not only surfaces, but vibrations (the scientific name for whiskers is vibrassae) and subtle wind currents. Whiskers are like sentries sending back a steady stream of data to the cat's brain (Central Command).

Since cats' facial whiskers, on average, extend out to about the width of their bodies, cats use them to gauge whether they can fit through a narrow passage.

Cats also consider the feedback from their whiskers in addition to what they see, smell, hear, and touch with their skin when exploring unfamiliar terrain.

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Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.

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