The cat’s whiskers

A cat's whiskers are extremely important to her.

A cat’s whiskers are extremely important to her.

A cat’s whiskers add to her looks, but they also do much more! Read all about it in your August 2016 issue of Animaltalk. Here’s a sneak peek:

Do whiskers keep kitty upright?

It is actually a myth that whiskers assist the cat with balance. Like all mammals, the inner ear regulates balance and tracks movement. Think about it – many mammals in fact have no whiskers at all, and their balance is fine. When a cat happens to be off-balance, the inner ear will signal to the body to right itself. This process will then start with the head, then the front feet and after that the body. Kittens can already right their bodies this way from birth, but the cat’s ability to right her body in mid-air before landing only develops after around four to six weeks.

Ever wondered why cats are fussy eaters? Read more here.

 

So what do the whiskers do?

Whiskers, technically called vibrissae, have a sensory function in helping the cat find her way. A cat’s whiskers are patterned – she generally has 12 whiskers on each side of the nose, placed in four horizontal rows. They are used to determine distances and the sizes of objects – very useful in the dark! A cat will also use her whiskers to test how big an opening is, to make sure she will fit into tight spaces and not get stuck. This explains the natural grace of the cat – her whiskers help her to avoid clumsy accidents. Cats also have vibrissae on their paws, eyes, chins and legs.

 

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