Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

Like human beings have grown an external GPS as their body part, i.e., the usual smartphone, even our feline friends treat their whiskers as their GPS. Although stiff hair seems to do nothing more than make our feline friends cuter, it seems to have an extremely important function in a cat’s anatomy.

When a cat ‘smiles,’ their whiskers serve as a kind of eyebrow-like framing for the eyes and draw attention to the snout. However, as has been mentioned previously, whiskers are more than simply cosmetic features. The instant article will discuss all such reasons associated with this theory in brief.

Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

What are Whiskers?

Whiskers are unique strands of hair that stand out in a cat’s face, which has an integral function other than enhancing the cat’s adorability. Due to the dense concentration of blood vessels and nerves in their follicles, whiskers are more sensitive than normal hair.

It is imperative to mention that a cat’s whiskers are just as delicate as a human being’s fingertips. Thus, when a human being can claim that he/she gains the sense of touch through his/her fingertips, our feline friends gain the sense of touch through their whiskers, quite literally. 

Cat Whiskers are Body Balancers

In close contrast to a cat’s anatomy, our feline friends have specialized sensory organs called ‘proprioceptors,’ which are found near the tips of their whiskers. This organ is considered to be of imperative importance when it comes to keeping our feline friends conscious about what each part of its body is doing while it simultaneously does the job of communicating the position of its limbs and its body to its brain.

Cat Whiskers are Radar Sensors

Our feline friends have compromised vision. In this instance, a cat’s whiskers assist it in helping it see objects lying right under its nose. This is primarily done with the help of a cat’s specialized organ, i.e., proprioceptors.

Moreover, with the help of whiskers, cats can detect faint vibrations in the air and consequently act as radar detectors. This is especially useful to a cat in the wild since it can alert our feline friend when a predator is on the round. 

Cat Whiskers are Mood Detectors

The whiskers of a cat are considered to be comparatively more relaxed when it is comfortable and relaxing on a lazy afternoon. However, when a cat is more active, its whiskers will rise above its eyes.

In furtherance to this, when a cat senses danger and feels a threat approaching, it will pull its whiskers on its muzzle taut, flare them, and subsequently point them toward the direction of the incoming threat. In this manner, whiskers are considered to be the ultimate mood detectors of our feline friends.

Cat Whiskers Protect Cats, Just Like Human Eyelashes

Even the tiniest particles trigger a response from these delicate hair strands. In case a cat blinks or moves its head to get rid of a dust particle that lands on its whisker above its eye, its eye is shielded as a result.

Thus, cat whiskers have the same function as human eyelashes. Anything that comes in the way of our eyes is flicked off by our eyelashes, or in a cat’s case, by its whiskers.

Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

The Function of Whiskers For Cats: A Short Overview of Cat Anatomy

  1. The whiskers of a cat help it balance its body, largely because of its specialized organ, “proprioceptors’ which are attached to the tips of its whiskers.
  2. The whiskers of a cat help it locate objects near and about it as compensation for its compromised vision.
  3. The whiskers of a cat act as radar detectors by detecting faint vibrations in the air.
  4. The whiskers of a cat are largely credited for being a tell-tale sign of what a cat may be feeling.
  5. The whiskers of a cat act as a shield against harmful dust particles that can go inside the cat’s eyes.

Why Do Whiskers Need To Be Protected?

As has been elaborated in the present article, cat whiskers are essential to a cat’s anatomy in allowing them to function properly, both in a physical as well as a mental sense. Thus, cat whiskers should be diligently protected from any kind of harm. One should not pull on their whiskers since it could inflict a great deal of pain on our feline friends.

Can Cats Injure Their Whiskers?

Cats have extremely high chances of accidentally injuring their whiskers, especially when having a sip of water or eating food through wide-faced dishes. A responsible caretaker of a cat shall ensure not to provide food in dishes that touch its whiskers every time it attempts to take a bite or a sip since the same may lead to repetitive contact and unnecessary signals to its brain. This may be extremely uncomfortable and overwhelming to a cat.

How Many Whiskers Do Cats Have?

The roots of whiskers are three times deeper than those of normal hair, rougher as well as thicker. In contrast to normal hair, whiskers do not completely cover the entire body of a cat but are strategically placed on the chin, on the forelegs, over the top lip, next to the ears, and above the eyes.

Different kinds of breeds of feline organisms differ in the particularly precise arrangement and placement of whiskers, but most cats have 12 whiskers on each cheek, grouped in four rows.

Do I Need To Trim My Cat’s Whiskers?

A caretaker of a cat should keep in utmost consideration not to trim or cut a cat’s whiskers to avoid decreasing its awareness, which may further lead to disorientation and discomfort, both physically as well as mentally.

Jane Brunt, who identifies as a leading veterinarian and an advocate for a cat’s health, claims that if a cat’s whiskers are cut, it is no less than blindfolding a cat and taking away its sense of touch. 

Can A Cat’s Whiskers Grow Back?

Any reason that your cat gets its whiskers cut, whether it be due to underlying medical reasons or simply because your cat’s whiskers are broken in an accident, it is safe to say that they will grow back as long as the hair follicles remain unharmed.

In this context, it is of pertinent importance to note that most feline friends also experience shedding of whiskers, just like other hairs on their feline body, but only about 1 to 2 at a time. 

If your cat accidentally breaks or injures its whiskers or has it cut due to medical reasons, they generally grow its whiskers back in a period of about six weeks to 3 months, in an approximate sense. 

How Do Cat Whiskers Work?

  1. Cats have whiskers on their faces, above their eyes, ears, and jaw, as well as their forelegs, and are not limited to covering their noses.
  2. Cat whiskers are always symmetrical, i.e., cats have 12 whiskers on each side of their face.
  3. Whiskers assist a cat in assessing how much space it needs since its whiskers are built-in rulers.
  4. Whiskers help a cat see and locate its surroundings at night time, thus acting as a robust night vision.
  5. One should avoid trimming the whiskers of a cat to not make them feel blind and disoriented.
  6. When a cat grows old, it is evident that its whiskers will also change color, most probably to a dark gray or black color.


Could you have ever imagined how advanced a GPS our feline friends have been using since even before human beings invented Google Maps? It is often stated if not, human beings and cats could have been the smartest and cleverest species on Planet Earth, considering their sharp skills.

They have their sensory organs located at the end of their whiskers to thank for being empowered with such sharp skills. A cat’s whiskers might not just be the cute accessory to a Halloween outfit but, perhaps, the sole sense of direction for our feline friends. 


Why are my cat’s whiskers changing colors? Should I be worried?

It is extremely normal for an aging cat to witness the changing colors of its whiskers. Just like human beings, even our feline friends are prone to certain changes in their bodies when experiencing old age. When it comes to our feline friends, however, it is evident that their whiskers will also change color, most probably to a dark gray or black color.

Why does my cat grow whiskers on its forelegs? Is it normal, or should I contact the veterinarian?

The whiskers of our feline friends are not only limited to the muzzles on their faces but also grow on their forearms aside from other areas. Cats have whiskers on their faces, above their eyes, ears, jaw as well as their forelegs, and are not limited to covering only their noses.

Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment