Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

Wondering why cats have whiskers? What purpose do they serve?

The definition of “Whiskers” by “”….”whiskers or vibrissae serve as delicate sense organs of touch and are the equivalent to our fingertips. These whiskers are sensitive to vibrations in air currents:as the air moves, the whiskers vibrate, and cats use messages in these vibrations to sense their presence, size and shape of nearby objects without seeing or touching them” The article goes on to say that “whiskers are richly supplied with nerve endings…..they allow your cat to sense even the smallest changes in environment, such as air currents, changes in air pressure, temperature or wind direction”

Think whiskers are just on the cat’s face? Think again. Cats have small clusters of whiskers located high on their cheeks, above the eyes (for protection) and on the back of their front legs.

Whiskers are kind of the GPS navigators in the cat world. They help them to see in the dark (and you thought that cats see better than us in the dark! Wrong!!) It is their whiskers that help them to navigate, they help them judge the width of spaces for them to enter…..amazingly the length of whiskers are determined by genetics and if you have a fat cat his whiskers can lose this important function.

Don’t bother buying a mood ring for your cat to rate whether they are having a good day or bad. First, they have no fingers to put the ring on (surprise!) and second the position of their whiskers will give you this vital information. Kitty is feeling loved? The whiskers will point forward and down. Aggression? The whiskers will point forward and up. Your favorite cat is having a really, really bad day and is angry or finds his safety threatened? The whiskers will lay flattened back against the cheeks and he will take on more of a stalking posture.

Yes whiskers do add flair to your kitty’s appearance but they are also an essential component to his safety and ultimately his survival!!

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