Why do cats have such long whiskers?

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Have you ever wondered why your cat has whiskers and why are they so long? Find out why cats have whiskers here...

Whiskers are called vibrissae or tactile hairs. These are extra strong, extra sensitive hairs on the feline muzzle (this area is known as the whisker pad), above the eyes, on the cheeks, and also on the front legs. They are not just ornamental.

If the cat is going through a tight space and the whiskers are pushed backwards, this is a warning that the rest of the body may not get through. Thus, they help cats navigate in the dark and blind cats use their whiskers to find their way around.

Cats also need their muzzle whiskers as an extra sense, because they cannot focus their eyes on the mouse or bird that they have in their mouth or under their paws. Once they have their prey, they must rely on their sense of touch. Whiskers are rich in nerve endings. Contact between an object and a whisker is translated down the shaft to the follicle on the skin and from there by the nerves to the brain. Whiskers can sense not only the movement of the prey but also sense surface textures and even air movements. Each whisker is tapered at the end for extra sensitivity, allowing the cat to probe surfaces with extra delicacy.