Decided that today was going to be a two for one post: a new photo and then some of the science behind the topic. So I decided for the first double Sunday post, it would be on cat’s whiskers.
Most of us think of the cat’s whiskers as the pointy hairs on their faces (namely around their muzzle), but they can also have on other areas of their bodies such as their ears, around their jaw, and their forelegs. These hairs are actually called vibrissae and are used as sensors in their day-to-day lives.
When a cat brushes up against an object their whiskers allow them to determine the texture of the object, its location, and size—and it doesn’t matter if it’s light or dark around the cat.1 They’re also extremely sensitive, which makes sense if they’re sensory organs and have a higher supply of nerve endings and blood to the area. I know for a fact that my cat doesn’t like to drink from the water bowl if it’s too low as it presses against her whiskers.
They can also serve as one of the many emotional barometers for cats (along with ear and tail positioning). For example in the picture, Pancakes’s whiskers were standing out sideways, meaning she was relaxed (and totally use to me taking pictures of her—though she was still giving me a dirty look—probably for waking her up). Though if the cat pushes their whiskers forward this could mean they’re excited, and if they’re flat back against the their cheeks, it mean they’re scared or extremely irritated.2
Have you paid attention to the directions of your cat’s whiskers?? How often are they forward or flat against their cheeks?