Why Do Cats Have Whiskers

Why Do Cats Have Whiskers

Discover the vital role your cat's vibrissae, or whiskers, play.  

There are a lot of amazing things about cats, including that they are excellent climbers, to the fact that their purrs vibrate at 25-100Hz, and are known to have a healing quality to humans. Oh, and they are pretty cute as well! However, one of the most amazing things about cats are those hairs that poke out of their face. Their whiskers or vibrissae as they are also known. A topic you can read all about in the post below.

All about whiskers

There are several reasons that your household kitty has whiskers. The first is that they are essential to the way they sense and function in the world. While the second is that they act as excellent signifiers of your kitty/s current mood.

You'll find your cat's whiskers mainly on their face next to their nose, although that is not their only location. Whiskers also appear above the eyes and on the back of the lower legs just above their feet.


You can think of your cat's whiskers as a type of radar. That is, they use them to gain a sense of their physical position, and whether there is anything dangerous in the vicinity.

Whiskers are so sensitive because they are connected to your cat's nervous system, continually delivering messages about changes in the environment, as well as distance and location of other objects and animals.

This is the reason why your cat is excellent at jumping and climbing because they have an extra sense system to help them make more accurate calculations. Similarly, our feline's ability to squeeze through seemingly impossibly small spaces is mostly to do with their whiskers. The reason being is that they help them judge whether their body can safely fit or not.

Of course, their whiskers and the associated sensory system are also essential for hunting, as it helps our feline friends locate and successfully track prey. Something vital for the survival of wild and feral cats, and still used by most domesticated felines today.  


Your cat's whiskers aren't only used as touch sensors. They are also significant indicators of the emotional state of your pet. Angry cats or those about to leap at prey will display whiskers that are spread out and erect. In contrast, a more relaxed moggy's whiskers will be relaxed and droopy.  

Top whisker tips

Never cut your cat's whiskers

Whiskers will naturally shed over time, and you may find one or two around your home. However, you absolutely should never cut or trim your cat's whiskers. The reason for this is because they are such a vital part of her navigation system that without them, she will feel almost blind! Not being able to correctly judge distances, gaps, or receive signals that tell her whether the situation she is in is dangerous or not.  

Whiskers can change colour

Just like their hair on human heads, whiskers can go white as your cat ages. However, this is nothing to be concerned about, as it is just a natural part of the ageing process. The whiskers themselves will still be able to do their job!

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