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Your Cat’s Whiskers

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A cat’s whiskers… what do they do besides tickle our faces in the middle of the night?

Known also as vibrissae or tactile hairs, the whiskers serve several functions and are highly sensitive. Thicker than the cat’s normal hair, the whiskers are really touch receptors that are rooted more deeply than normal hairs and are rich in nerve endings.

Whisker Navigation

The whiskers are so sensitive they can aid the cat in detecting changes in air currents. This ability helps the cat navigate in a dark environment. Your cat uses her whiskers in the dark in the same way you would hold out your arms so your fingers could feel for objects. By determining changes in air currents, the cat can avoid walking into an object. This ability to detect air currents also helps when hunting because the cat can detect the potential swift movement of prey.

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