What’s the use of cats’ whiskers

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cats whiskers | by Tomi Tapio http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomitapio/4305303148/ via Creative Commons

Wonder why cats have whiskers? Perhaps, most cat lovers here know exactly the functions of whiskers. In case you miss it, whiskers are part of cats’ tactile sensory system.

Anyway, the major function of cats’ whiskers is to send information to the sensory nerves to let cats get familiar with and to know the surroundings well. They serve as radar of the cats that help them response to changes in their environment.

If you were trimming your cats’ whiskers, I suggest you discontinue it. Your cats need it to accurately sense their surroundings. Without their tactile hair, they feel disoriented and startled. That brings a lot of stress to them, right? Tactile hair also protects our cats from danger; so, just let whiskers lose and grow naturally. Groom them well with brush and nail trimmer; they are fine with it just don’t touch their whiskers.

The end of each whisker has proprioceptor, which is responsible for sending signals to the nervous system. This helps our furry companions to decide what move to make, particularly when it’s dark. We all know that the cats’ eyes glow in the dark – because of tapetum lucidum located at the back of their eyes – which we think assist them in wandering dark surroundings. Yes, that in fact is true. However, the whiskers are also responsible why they don’t bump into any furniture or the wall. Whiskers sense the change in air current that signals the cats where it is safe to walk. This is also the reason why they can catch prey even in a very dark area.

Whiskers, too, serve as the mood indicators of cats apart from the tail. The directions of their whiskers tell their mood. If they are pointing forward, then prepare yourself for the chasing-and-hunting activity with them. (I guess no one resists cat’s charm when the iris starts to get wide.) Cats feel scared when you see their whiskers pull together and lay flat on their face. Besides the hunting mood, when their whiskers point forward and coat stands at the same time, it means they are either startled or excited.

Again, if you plan to trim those 24 strands on the sides of their mouth, think a thousand times.

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