Many people wonder why cats have whiskers. Unlike humans, they do not have to be trimmed. They may get wet or have food left on them. So why have them?
Whiskers also known as tactile hairs are sensory organs that become sensitive when something comes close. They help identify an object especially in the dark. By sensing changes in air currents with them, objects can detected and avoided.
There can be up to 12 long whiskers on the upper lip, shorter ones above the eyes and back of the forelegs. They are deep rooted in the face and up to three times thicker than normal body hair. The tips are sensitive to pressure. The ones on the lip will fan out enabling the cat to determine if it can fit through an opening. It can twist it's body through an opening because it has a collar bone. Even a blind cat can get around very easily by using them.
The ones on the forelegs can determine the size of an animal that has been captured. This helps keep control of the captured animal. A cat has is a natural hunter. It depends on it's ability to move undetected in the dark to capture it's prey. They help navigate as it is stalking it's prey.
A cat will use them to communicate. Depending on the mood, the position of them will change. If it is walking, they will be fully extended. They are held in tight when feeding, around another animal or angry. If it is content, they will be pushed forward and relaxed.
Some are straight and some are curly. Never cut or try to rearrange them. Some maybe lost when shedding but that is nothing to be concerned about. It takes several months for them to grow back. There is still enough left to navigate with until the new ones grow back.
Every feline has whiskers. Even on a lion or tiger, they perform the same functions in the animal. They are dependent on them for survival especially in the wild. They can be found in other animals and are usually used for sensing purposes.
So now you know that whiskers play an important role in everyday life. No human intervention is needed because a cat will maintain them. If there is a significant loss of them or they are damaged, go to a veterinarian immediately. The veterinarian can determine why the loss or how to repair the damage.