Are your domestic cat’s whiskers longer than expected? Did you know your cat’s whiskers house a variety of functions? They serve as a facial compass, a covert communication device, a stalking/monitoring device, and a method of maintaining your cat’s stable body weight.
Is your cat suffering from whiskers that are too long? If so, your veterinarian may recommend trimming your cat’s whiskers.
Where Are a Cat’s Whiskers?
Cats have neatly organized whiskers on both cheeks, sometimes also on their foreheads.
Their whiskers are most visible when a cat is alert or scared.
Whiskers are thicker and longer on the left side of a cat’s face, known as his “dominant side,” and thinner and shorter on the right side, known as the “non-dominant side.” The whiskers are not all the same.
The two outer rows, which lie higher than the two inner rows, are longer and thicker. Many cats, especially kittens, have prominent Whiskers when they are born.
These thick, coarse, and deeply implanted hairs may also be found on their upper legs, face, chest, and ears.
Whiskers are specifically adapted for climbing, tracing, and marking objects.
The Whiskers are particularly useful for marking objects when their fur gets matted or tangled since they can pull the fur off the object. Whiskers also help cats find hidden objects as they run back and forth across their fur.
Why are my cat’s whiskers so long?
Whiskers aren’t merely long, sharp protrusions from the cat’s face, though they do serve a purpose.
Whiskers are highly specialized sensory structures since they contain hairs that are fractal and can respond to very small stimuli.
Cats have 29 whiskers on their face, 61 on their upper lip, and 30 on their lower lip.
These whiskers are made of the same material as hair and skin and have about the same density (thickness). Whiskers on the upper lip are shorter than whiskers on the lower lip.
The ultra-sensitive nerve terminals and numerous blood vessels in the whiskers react instantly to the sensory information they sense.
Instinctively, cats can tell whether the item they are investigating is edible, dangerous, or merely interesting.
Whiskers, often known as ‘tactile hairs,’ serve an important function in cats as sensors of movement.
Cats use their whiskers to detect changes in their surroundings, such as changes in temperature, texture, and movement. Whiskers, which grow from a cat’s jawline, are sensitive to changes in the movement of the cat’s face or head.
When a cat’s whiskers brush up against anything like a cupboard, a furry friend will turn its head in order to examine what it has touched. Whiskers can also sense whether nearby objects are moving.
In the veterinary world, a feline is said to be able to maintain a full balance if it can move its whiskers straight ahead or parallel to its body without bending or swiveling them.
Resembling fine hairs, cats’ whiskers help the animal feel its way about its environment. Whiskers serve two functions by balancing a cat’s center of gravity and senses.
Balancing itself gives the cat better stability so that it can run faster and jump higher.
Proprioceptors (sensory organs) in these tightly packed hairs might allow a cat to maintain balance and even quickly shift it.
Whiskers provide structural support for a lean feline and aid movement. And, of course, the long whiskers allow a feline to feel objects like prey, footing, and walls.
A cat that knows where all four paws are at every moment is less likely to twist or break its back.
Whiskers also play an important role in maintaining cat health by stimulating a cat’s immune system. They give it a “feet on the floor” sensation that helps it feel safe and secure.
Feel Nearby Objects
When it comes to seeing racing rodents in the wild, cats have an advantage over their wild counterparts, having raised whiskers on their heads that help them feel the movement behind, above, or to the side of an object.
With these nerve-dense hairs, a kitten can detect small vibrations, ranging from the hiss made by a mouse running beneath a piece of furniture to the slight rustling of a leaf in the wind.
Even the slightest of sounds can be detected by her whiskers.
Kittens use their whiskers to learn more about their surroundings.
Cats use their whiskers to determine where a cat’s head is in relation to the rest of her body, which lets the cat determine when to turn her head and look in another direction.
Humans can also use their whiskers in a similar way if their hands are in the right position.
Although a cat’s whiskers are twice as thick as human hair, they are also sensitive to vibrations. If a cat gets too close, it will move away from the object or person it is approaching, using its whiskers.
Even the tiniest breezes and nudges can be detected as whiskers are very sensitive.
Cat whiskers are also quite flexible, especially if they are long. Whiskers are even able to conduct pulses of electricity as the whiskers are stimulated by a slight breeze.
While asleep, a cat that detects these vibrations may spring into action to defend itself from its predator.
Unfortunately, these vibrations can also disturb the cat’s sleep, causing it to rub its whiskers against the floor.
Are My Cat’s Whiskers Too Long?
Your cat’s whiskers are also responsible for tracking prey. When a cat is stalking an animal, it moves its whiskers back and forth to follow its movements.
Instead, since your cat’s whiskers develop in proportion to his breadth, they’re the ideal length.
To complement their larger physique, a larger cat will also need longer whiskers.
Whiskers assist your cat in determining whether or he can squeeze through tight spaces.
As the tips of their whiskers brush against obstacles, your cat uses that information to decide whether or not it’s possible to go through. Whiskers also help your cat judge his environment.
They have hairs that can reflect light.
If your cat uses his whiskers to collect sunlight, they act like a mirror to help him determine where the sun is and if he can safely access it.
What Happens If You Trim Your Cat’s Whiskers?
Cats without whiskers may have difficulty orienting themselves and may lack self-confidence.
As a result, whiskers should not be clipped, and we just might learn something in the process.
Trimming a whisker is not unpleasant, but it is time-consuming and must be done by a professional.
Cats, for example, utilize their whiskers to detect infrared light that is undetectable to the human eye.
Cats use their whiskers to detect heat and balance.
Whiskers are very sensitive, which is why trimming them can be dangerous.
When a cat’s whiskers are trimmed without the proper tools, the cat may feel pain and be susceptible to infection.
So, although we may assume they have a problem, it is best to trim the whiskers to keep them healthy.
Also Read: Do Cats Have Ankles?
Larger breeds, such as Ragdolls and Maine coons, often have longer whiskers, but this breed isn’t the only one. Groups such as Maine Coons or Ragdolls are bred specifically based on large, long whiskers.
It’s a cat’s ‘guide sheet’ for determining if she can safely slide through an opening without getting hurt.
Short whiskers on the cat’s upper lip or the cheek, may also be caused by a tumor, though your cat may not show any signs.
Roughhousing and excessive grooming are harmless when they are left alone, but they could be signs that your cat has become injured or is in pain.
However, your cat may get confused, depressed, or even develop risky behavior if the whiskers are so long that they’re rubbing your cat’s eyes or nose.
If your cat’s whiskers are damaged, it could mean that they’re suffering from baldness or have a condition like anemia.