Each whisker is rooted deeply in the skin and is surrounded by a group of highly sensitive nerves and blood vessels. This makes whiskers incredibly sensitive to even the slightest touch or changes in the air.
Cats use their whiskers to determine if they can fit through openings. The whiskers are roughly as wide as the cat's body, acting as a natural ruler to help them gauge and navigate tight spaces.
A cat's whiskers can move forward and backward. When they're relaxed, the whiskers are still. If a cat is hunting or feeling threatened, the whiskers will push forward. This movement helps them assess their environment and express their mood.
While the most noticeable whiskers are on either side of a cat's nose, they also have shorter whiskers above their eyes, on their chin, and even on the back of their front legs, called carpal whiskers.
Just like hair, whiskers fall out and regrow. This is a normal process, so there's no need to worry if you find a whisker around your home. However, whiskers should never be cut, as this can disorient and stress a cat.
Changes in a cat's whiskers can sometimes reflect their health. For example, whiskers that are constantly drooping might be a sign of illness or malnutrition. Always take note of significant changes and consult a vet if concerned.
The position of a cat's whiskers can help you understand how they're feeling. Forward-pointing whiskers indicate curiosity or excitement, while pinned back whiskers might signal fear or aggression.
Whisker fatigue occurs when the whiskers are over-stimulated by touching surfaces too often. This can make cats feel disoriented or stressed. That's why some cats prefer not to eat out of deep, narrow bowls.