Sometimes you look at your cat and ask yourself, wondering why are my cats whiskers so long? It sure sounds random, but it’s still valid nonetheless. The more you pay to look at them, the more you will notice the length and start to wonder.
Our furry feline friends have a lot of curiosities. You see many cats with unique coat colors and patterns such as tuxedos and socks. Or completely bald like the Sphinx cats. There are also cats with heterochromia also known as odd-eyed, or cats with different eye colors.
Among their genetic magics, the whiskers are the ones that all cats share. Even though other animals have the same facial feature, but they have different functions. In cats’ case, they are crucial and have multiple functions.
Why whiskers are crucial for cats
Unlike the coat, cats can be very protective with their whiskers. They won’t allow you to touch it no matter what. It’s even more off-limit than the belly. And you know the length they will go to avoid a belly rub.
It’s the protective gear
It sure sounds weird to you. How come whiskers protect the cat? Even though they are only a few hairs, but they are much thicker than the coat. Each hair also connects to the facial muscle that the cat can move around. They work like a sensor where they notice any surface differences and thus protect the face.
As your cat grows older, they will be more reliant on their whiskers to understand the world around them. An elderly cat may lose eyesight and leave them with other senses such as smell and hearing. Still, their other senses are not as strong. That is when the facial hair comes to the rescue.
Another function is to help them hunt. Yes, it’s more than just facial hair that protects the eyes and nose area. They also work to hunt.
This time, the ones working are the leg whiskers. These are on their feet, mainly near their paws. Unlike the facial ones, they are much harder to notice.
Anyway, you know that cats are using their whiskers as a moving sensor. They use it to feel whether their prey is still alive or not. A short touch from the bristle sends the information to the brain about the prey.
Keeping proportion to body ratio
The whiskers grow the same way as your cat. They start short as a kitten, then grow in proportion with their bodies. However, you mostly only see the longest hairs.
The breeds with muscular bodies and long hair like the Norwegian and Maine Coon, have much longer whiskers than the British short hair or even a Munchkin.
Cats use many parts of their bodies to show their mood at a time. From the ears, eyes, and tail. Their body language can be very telling. Their facial hair is also one of them. Of course, it’s a little more challenging than watching the tail
They are the least noticeable of all. However, when the bristles are on the sides, you can tell that one is happy and content feline. However, when they are right against their cheeks, then your cat is unhappy about something. You better check with their other body parts for confirmation.
It’s not a mustache, so don’t trim them
First of all, the whisker sheds in a certain period. So, you don’t have to play barber and trim them as you do with your hair. And because it’s connected to some sensory muscles, you are risking your cat’s health.
Trimming also has no esthetical value. The hair is much thicker than the regular coat and also mainly colorless.
So, what else is that special about the bristle?
Sometimes a cat may lose some whiskers due to a fight, an accident, or a natural cause. When that happens, they will slowly grow again until it hits an even number.
Another thing you need to know is that the whiskers are always in an even number between the right and left sides. The number will not exceed 24 for some reason.
This growing process can take weeks. Each cat is different in this matter, but it’s generally faster than their coat. So, you don’t have to worry if your cat lost one or two bristles.
Now you know why your cat whiskers are so long. It has so many functions that cover a lot of their life aspects. It sure is amazing how some bristles can work as a sensor for both protection and hunt. And they grow in proportion with the body length.
At any rate, you need to stay away from touching them on purpose or worse, trim them. Even though they can grow again, but it will be some agonizing time for your cat to go through. Also, your cat will have a hard time communicating with you.