Have you ever looked at your cat’s cute face and wondered if these mustaches serve a purpose, and what might that be? I have it, so I decided to find out and share it with all of you. Maybe “cool” is a kind of a stretch, but it turns out that the cat’s whiskers are very cool things.
Whiskers – also called vibrations or haircut hair – are thicker and deeper than natural cat hair, and perform many functions. Because mustaches are rich in nerve endings, they are important sensory tools for a cat. Here are five more fun facts I discovered about cat whiskers.
1- Whiskers can be striped
A color gene, called the agouti gene, controls the color of whiskers. This gene also produces color variation such as banding (stripey) patterns in ordinary fur in some cats. Cats that have multiple colors in a pattern, such as tabbies and Abyssinian cats, are produced by this gene because the gene can speed up and slow down the release of pigment. Pigment delivery can switch halfway through the whisker growth cycle, leading to a stripe. It is even possible for cats to have both black and white whiskers.
2- Whiskers can change color
Whiskers can change color as a cat age. A young cat may have white whiskers, which then darken or turn gray like a cat age, similar to a human’s hair. A pure black cat may have entirely black whiskers. If your cat has dark whiskers when they are young, they may turn gray or become lighter as your cat grows older.
3- Whiskers match the size of a cat’s body
The whiskers on a cat’s muzzle grow to approximately equal to her body width. If he’s hunting and wanting to follow a mouse under the house, for instance, he’ll use his whiskers to judge whether his body will fit into the tunnel or hole or whatever he’s encountered. If his whiskers brush the sides, he knows his body won’t fit.
4- Whiskers are highly sensitive
Whiskers are much more than just hair, such as what grows out of a human’s head. Whiskers are “tactile” hairs, also called “vibrissae,” which are thicker, more deeply rooted, and richer in nerve endings than normal hair. Whiskers can even help your cat “see” in the dark!
A cat has four rows of whiskers and most cats have a total of 12 on either side: The top two rows can move independently from the bottom two rows. The sensitive nerves in the whiskers help a cat determine the precise location, size, and texture of an object it’s encountered, even in the dark. Whiskers are also sensitive enough to detect changes in air currents, which is one reason why cats always seem to know when someone, or something, is approaching them.
5- Never cut your cat’s whiskers!
Although the whiskers are attached to nerve endings, they can’t actually feel themselves. This is similar to how it doesn’t hurt if you clip your fingernails or cut your own hair. However, whiskers are sensitive enough to transmit as much information to your cat as your own fingertips do. For this reason, they should never be cut. If you’re grooming your cat or just petting him, avoid his whiskers, because he needs them and it is likely to be uncomfortable.
6- Whiskers communicate your cat’s moods
If you get to know the movements of a cat’s whiskers, you can learn a lot about what your cat is feeling. When a cat’s whiskers are relaxed, meaning simply sticking straight out, as usual, your cat is content and happy. If her whiskers are pushed forward and maybe swishing back and forth, she’s concentrating on something, likely hunting down what looks like a tasty morsel. If her whiskers are pulled back (you’ll also notice another aggressive body language along with this) she’s stressed, angry, or afraid.
7- Whiskers take up 40% of your cat’s brain
Since cat vision is not all that great, they get most of their sensory information from touch and hearing. Almost 40% of the cat’s brain maps to areas that are related to the location of whiskers. Each individual whisker maps to a specific spot in her brain, which makes them a super important part of your cat’s anatomy.
8- Whiskers help a cat land on its feet
The whiskers are attached to special sensory organs called proprioceptors. The proprioceptors send messages to the brain about where in space your cat’s body is. This means the whiskers transmit information about what your cat’s body is doing. This is part of the reason why cats are able to land on their feet.
9- Whiskers are “little brooms”
The word “whisker” comes from the Middle English word ‘wicker’ dating back to around the year 1600 that means “anything that whisks or sweeps.” It makes sense, given the fun facts about whiskers that we have already learned.
10- Whiskers do grow back
Whiskers do occasionally fall out. A malicious child might pluck your cat’s whiskers. Whiskers can grow scraggly and break. Never fear . . . they do grow back.
11- Cat Whiskers Help with Hunting
A cat’s eyes have difficulty focusing on objects that are very close to them. The carpal whiskers aid them when hunting by helping to determine the movement of prey captured in her paws. The carpal whiskers also help determine if their prey is in the right position for the fatal bite.
The whiskers on a cat’s eyebrows can protect the eyes when they are hunting in a grassy or bushy area. These whiskers will trigger a protective blink to prevent being poked in the eye by a branch or other object.
12- Cat Whiskers Detect Changes in Air Flow
A cat’s whiskers are so sensitive that they can detect changes in air currents, which helps them maneuver in the dark. Inside your house, the cat’s ability to feel the airflow around objects helps them avoid bumping into things. Outdoors, being able to determine changes in the air around them can help them escape from predators.
Do cats fart?
The discretion, or lack of audible farts, is probably due to the fact that cats don’t gulp their food like dogs do, leading to less air accumulating in their digestive tract. So, yes, cats do fart. But they do it with the same grace and stealth they use to approach everything else.
Do cats know their name?
Yes, your cat probably understands when you’re calling its name, a new study finds. But it may just choose not to listen. A team of researchers found domestic cats respond more strongly to their own names than to other words in a series. … In a previous study, Saito found cats can recognize their owners’ voices.
Do cats like kisses?
Cats like to act demure, but research shows that they truly do love their humans. … While some cats seem to like and lean into human kisses, others most certainly do not. Chances are, you know which side your cat falls on. A cat’s like or dislike for affection may even change from day to day (or hour to hour.)