What Is a Cat’s Whisker?

We know that if a cat shows its belly to you, it means it trusts you. Additionally, we love to rub its soft belly. After all, the soft belly of a cat is of great temptation to most humans. But personally, a cat’s selfie with its whole facial whiskers would be more attractive to me. Are whiskers just longer hairs? Obviously not. Now, we will learn more about cat whiskers.

Whiskers, also called vibrissae or tactile hair, are longer and thicker than regular hair. And they are three times deeper down to a cat’s skin. Moreover, each whisker follicle has many sensitive nerve endings. Whiskers are located on the upper lips, above the eyes, on the chin, and on the forelegs (also named carpal whiskers). Most cats have 12 whiskers on each cheek that are arranged neatly in 4 rows.

Functions of the whiskers

Whiskers not only serve as important facial features but also play a unique role in helping cats sense the environment around them. Even though there is no nerve in whiskers, many nerve endings located in each whisker follicle can help sense and detect air vibration, and therefore judge the distance to an object. For example, the whisker around the cat’s upper lip helps them judge if they can pass through a small distance as the whiskers are usually proportionate to their body size. Also, carpal whiskers can help cats climb, hunt, and provide important information about objects within their grasp.



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