Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?
Sensitive, versatile whiskers
24 brilliant hairs at work
You may think a cat can see in the dark, but it’s really the whiskers that are doing the work. Twenty-four mobile hairs, called vibrissae, sense vibrations in the air and can detect the presence, size and shape of obstacles without ever seeing or touching them. This makes whiskers a powerful hunting tool.
There's a ruler on your face
Whiskers help a cat assess if she can make it through a passage. A cat’s body is about the same width as her whiskers, which act like a built-in ruler. The tips are pressure sensitive. Have you ever seen a cat pause at an opening and stick her head through and back before she continues? She's checking the width of the opening and judging if she can fit.
Specially designed hairs
Whiskers are specialized hairs. They're rooted more firmly in the body to connect with muscles and nerves, and are thicker and longer. Cats have whiskers above their eyes, too.
Legs with eyes
Did you know cats also have whiskers on the backs of their front legs? They offer another hunting advantage by telling cats if their prey is moving.
How long can whiskers grow?
If you ever wondered how long a cat’s whiskers can grow, Missi, a Maine Coon living in Finland, holds the record for the longest whiskers of any cat, measuring 7.5 inches long. Hmm, maybe this fella is a relative.