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Your Cat’s Whiskers

catYour cat’s whiskers aren’t just there to make her look all that much more cute, they actually serve a purpose. Technically known as vibrissae, your cat’s thick, coarse whiskers are just one of the many areas on her body where her sharp sense of touch is manifested.

The follicles from which whiskers grow are deeply embedded in the tissue of a cat’s upper lip. They are supplied with a mass of nerve endings that provide information at the slightest whisker movement. You may notice your cat twitching her whiskers as she sniffs at the air. She is using her whiskers as wind detectors, combined with her sense of smell, to locate the source of an odor. Whiskers also provide protection for your cat’s eyes by triggering a protective eye blink if something sharp or large touches them first.

A cat’s orientation and motions can be impaired if she loses her whiskers, making it very important that you never cut or trim them. On their own, they will occasionally fall out and new whiskers will grow in their place.