Why Do Cats Have Whiskers? What Makes Them So Amazing?

A grey cat with green eyes and long whiskers

Cats are mysterious creatures, and no part of their anatomy is more mysterious than their whiskers. Why do cats have whiskers? How do they use them? What are the different types of cat whiskers? We will answer all these questions in this blog post!

So, why do cats have whiskers? Whisker length and density varies from cat to cat, but generally speaking, they are an indicator of the animal’s health. Whiskers have three functions: they are a sensory tool that helps the cat understand its environment, an essential part of their self-defence system. Finally, whisker length is related to hunting. 

Whiskers Are A Sensory Tool:

Cats use their sensitive facial muscles for them a sense when something is near or coming towards it- this can be helpful since predatory animals like tigers rely on stealthy moves to catch their prey.

The whiskers on a cat’s forehead are the longest, and they act as an extra set of antennae, sensing changes in air currents. You can often see them twitching when your pet is about to pounce!

Why Do Cats Have Whiskers? What Are They Used For?

Cats Use Their Whiskers For Hunting:

Cats use their whiskers when they are hunting, too. The whiskers are spread around the cat’s face and act as a radar, or kind of sixth sense that can tell them when there is something dangerous near (like an owl) so they know to stop what they’re doing!

Cats Use Their Whiskers For Navigation:

 Cats also use whiskers for navigation, using their facial muscles’ sensitivity as a kind-of radar system that can help them avoid obstacles while they’re walking or running around and exploring!

What does it mean to have “cat-whisker radar?” One way for cats’ sensitive facial muscles and nerves in their nose area is through sensing air currents with that fur, as mentioned earlier structures called ‘vibrissae’.

This allows them an uncanny ability much like human’s echolocation: As long as there’s breathable oxygen around (which would be close enough at about 30 metres), these animals can detect anything up ahead or behind!

It also helps determine if something has approached too closely without being seen yet – usually by feeling vibrations on objects nearby before seeing what caused any bumping noises just.

Cats Use Their Whiskers For Balancing

They can also be used as a counterbalance when walking on narrow surfaces, such that the cat’s weight is distributed more evenly over its paws instead of just its front legs or hind ones alone – which helps them stay upright in tight spaces like under furniture! 

Cats Use Whiskers For Social Interactions:

Studies have shown that mother cats will trim their kitten’s whiskers whilst weaning. As this behaviour has only been seen a handful of times, researchers are still unsure of the meaning behind this social interaction.

why do cats have whiskers? A tabby cat with very long whiskers

What Are Whiskers?

Cat whiskers are made of the same thing as hair: a robust and protein-based material called keratin. But each strand is thicker than other strands in your cat’s coat and often reaches lengths two to three times longer.

Cat whiskers differ from other hairs on a cat’s body in several ways. They are coarser and thicker than regular fur and have roots that are three times deeper. Whiskers are also more sensitive than other hairs and have nerve endings that relay information about the cat’s surroundings.

Cat whiskers are unique because they don’t cover the entire body like other hairs. They’re strategically located above the eyes, on the chin, on the forelegs, near the ears, and above the upper lip.

Are Whiskers Only On A Cats Face?

Cat’s whiskers can be found all over the body, not just on the face. They can be located on the chin, forelegs and anywhere else that’s uncovered.

There are three types of whiskers: tactile (sensitive to air currents), signal or vibrissae( sensitive for touch) and thermoreceptors- these have nerve endings in them which relay information about a cat’s surroundings back up into their brain so they can be read as if it were from sight.

Are Cat Whiskers Symmetrical?

Cat whiskers are usually symmetrical. There are exceptions to this, however, for example: in the case of a two-tone cat with one black and white side whisker or if there have been any injuries that may cause asymmetry.

When cats shed their hair, they will lose some hairs from each type on either end so it’s not apparent when looking at them because all three types grow back equally quickly. This is also why you might notice your kitty trying out different postures – as he adjusts his body position, more visible whiskered tips emerge, giving him a better sense of feedback about what his body is doing.

Can Whiskers Change Colour?

A cat’s whiskers can change colour (usually to a white or cream colour) if the cat has experienced trauma, stress and illness or old age.

The whiskers can also change size when an animal is under duress due to injury from fighting with other animals for territory, etcetera.

Whiskers help feel the air and sense vibrations on different surfaces to get a better idea of what’s going on around them when they’re out hunting for food (due to this ability, cats are often called ‘crepuscular’)! They’ll even use their whisker hairs as feel-safe ropes during climbing or swinging from things like trees – it might not sound that clever, but you know how strong those claws have now become? It just helps create more grip before dropping down onto his feet again so quickly!

why do cats have whiskers? A close up tabby cat looking up with white whiskers

Should You Trim A Cats Whiskers?

You should never trim your cat’s whiskers unless its essential to their health. Before you decide to trim your cats whiskers for medical reasons you should seek advice fist from your vet.

Whiskers are a sensory organ for your cat, and trimming them could hurt their ability to hunt, detect prey nearby, or explore possible areas around themselves at night!

Cats will lose balance so quickly when whisker hairs aren’t there as well, which can result in cats hurting floors from scratching too hard – not good if you have just had those carpets cleaned!!

What Is Whisker Fatigue?

A cat’s whiskers can feel very fine bumps and are therefore used for sensory input. When a cat has “whisker fatigue”, they have too much sensory input from their whiskers, making them upset or stressed out. Whisker fatigue can be caused by the over touching of whiskers by humans, bushes, furniture, and their food and water bowls.

Some of the most common symptoms of whisker fatigue include:

  • Refusing to eat or drink from their usual dishes,
  • Pawing at food and water, trying to draw them out,
  • Being more aggressive around other pets at mealtime
  • Innately pacing in front of their food bowls and meowing for attention
  • Making a mess around the food bowl.

Do Cat’s Whiskers Grow Back?

Cat’s whiskers can grow back; they usually take around 2 to 3 months to grow back. Whiskers fall out periodically throughout the year

Some breeds have been found to grow back their whiskers at a quicker rate. The rate that a cat’s whiskers grow back will also depend on the cat’s age and health of a cat. Older or sicker cat’s whiskers usually grow back at a lower rate compared to healthy cats.

The whiskers grow back in a way that is different from how they were before, as their new ones will be shorter than those on top and below them to allow for more protection against injury when exploring objects around its face area or nose bumping into things, too many times during playtime with its owner.

Why Are My Cat’s Whiskers Curling?

You may have noticed that your cat’s whiskers might be curling. This is caused by either the cat getting older and having less than their original number of whiskers or a lack of grooming on your cats’ behalf.

When playing with an owner, for example, they might get too close to objects which will cause them pain if it happens more often than what is necessary because this can make its new set grow back slower by bumping against stuff.

As we know, even though all breeds have different lengths depending on how long theirs were before growing again, some just don’t last very well, giving us many reasons why our feline friends may curl up one side better over another given periods.

Can A Cat’s Whiskers Be Too Long?

There is no need to worry if you think your cat’s whiskers are too long. The average length of a cat’s whiskers is about three inches, but the whisker can grow as long as six or seven. The length of a cat’s whippers depends mainly on their breed; some breeds such as Maine Coons have really long ones, and others, like Persians have shorter ones.

Whisker lengths are not usually an issue for most domesticated kitties though they’re super-long because felines use them to sense movement in the air while hunting prey by detecting vibrations from insects and other small creatures moving through it.

Can A Cats Whiskers Show How A Cat Is Feeling?

As we have explored, a cat’s whiskers are a cat’s lifeline to the world. Cats use them when they explore places that they wouldn’t access otherwise, such as high places or thin branches. Additionally, cats can showcase their feelings using facial expressions with their whiskers!

A cat’s whisker can reveal its mood or how they are feeling. For example, if a cat has its whiskers pulled back and tight to the face, this is likely indicative of an angry or scared mood! In contrast, when cats hold their whiskers at an angle away from their faces, they are expressing a relaxed or content state.


So there we have it! Why do cats have whiskers? Whiskers are an essential part of a cat’s anatomy and play a crucial role in the feline’s day-to-day life. From helping them hunt prey to keeping them balanced, whiskers are essential for cats. Now you know!


Look What Whiskers Can Do book by DM Souza

What can whiskers tell us about mammalian evolution, behaviour, and ecology? a study by Robyn A. Grant, Victor G. A. Goss

Whisker trimming by mother cats A Study by S.Ehrenlechner & J.Unshelm


Rochelle is a self-claimed crazy cat lady and proud cat mum to Owlie! She has owned, rescued, and fostered cats throughout her whole life. Rochelle created Cats On My Mind as a hub for likeminded cat parents to get all the information they will ever need to give their fur babies their best life!

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