Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?


Much like human finger prints, every cat’s whisker pattern is unique. Whiskers are a sensory organ, so cutting them off would be comparable to humans cutting off their senses such as sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste.

Cats have whiskers in various locations; in horizontal rows on the whisker pad of their cheeks, there are also whiskers between the corner of a cat’s mouth and the outer corner of the nose, on the chin, the eyebrows, and on the back of the front legs. These whiskers all play a very important role in a cats daily life.

Cats whiskers are so sensitive, that cats can even pick up air movement indoors, such as air flowing around objects, which lets the cat know there is something in their path, even when it is pitch dark. Cats are nocturnal creatures, so this also helps them navigate more easily at night while they hunt. This is important for cats because they are far sighted and have trouble seeing things clearly close up. For blind cats whiskers are extremely important as they rely almost solely on their whiskers to navigate.

When you cut or trim a cat’s whiskers it will cause them not only discomfort, but also to become confused and disorientated, among other negative side effects. Research has shown that cats whose whiskers have been cut have trouble estimating the size of openings which can cause them to easily get stuck and unable to escape from dangerous situations.

Experiments with cats whose whiskers have been cut short also show that cats have trouble measuring distances correctly which will cause them to misjudge jumping distances as well as occasionally run into things.


Written by Melonie Fischer, ACA