DEC 31, 2019 2:55 PM PST

There's More to a Cat's Whiskers Than You Think

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Cats may be enjoyable pets, but their true roots go back to incredibly predacious creatures with bodies that have been evolutionarily adapted for hunting prey. 

Cats’ forward-facing eyes are capable of jaw-droppingly good nighttime visibility, but not only that, the animals can also discern high-speed movement much more effectively than humans can. Cats’ eyesight is a force to be reckoned with, but it’s not without its pitfalls. As it turns out, cats have a hard time focusing their eyes on close objects, and most can’t clearly see objects within about 30 centimeters of their face.

This may seem like a substantial weakness for such a distinguished predator, but as it turns out, cats use a different mechanism to detect close objects – the sense of touch through their facial whiskers.

After a cat locks eyes on something, it pounces, generally attempting to capture its target in its claws. The cat’s target may be a toy or prey, but either way, you’ll generally discern the cat’s whiskers orienting themselves in a forward-facing position after the cat manages to grab onto something. This is the cat attempting to validate its catch with the sense of touch as opposed to verifying it visually.

A cat’s whiskers are much thicker than ordinary hair, and the ends are deeply embedded in the cat’s facial nerve endings, which help the animal discern just how much a whisker(s) is being bent back as it’s touched.

Indeed… cats are extraordinary (and adorable) animals.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 20, 2020
Plants & Animals
Flamboyant Cuttlefish Are Usually Understated
AUG 20, 2020
Flamboyant Cuttlefish Are Usually Understated
Cuttlefish are well known for their incredible camouflaging abilities; they can rapidly change the color and texture of ...
AUG 26, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Is a Supernova to Blame for the Devonian Extinction Event?
AUG 26, 2020
Is a Supernova to Blame for the Devonian Extinction Event?
Over the roughly 4.5 billion years of Earth's existence, there have been several periods were biodiversity has been near ...
AUG 28, 2020
Plants & Animals
Will Traps Solve the Invasive Lionfish Problem?
AUG 28, 2020
Will Traps Solve the Invasive Lionfish Problem?
Extravagant and spiny lionfish were once highly sought after by home aquarium hobbyists. These venomous fish are native ...
SEP 06, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
The fluid dynamics of pelagic snails' movement
SEP 06, 2020
The fluid dynamics of pelagic snails' movement
Warm water pelagic snails don’t get much attention, but they certainly should. The snails move between ocean surfa ...
SEP 06, 2020
Technology
Can Math Determine The Sex of a Dinosaur?
SEP 06, 2020
Can Math Determine The Sex of a Dinosaur?
Can math tell us about the gender differences in dinosaurs? A new study published a novel statistical analysis that esti ...
SEP 21, 2020
Neuroscience
Scientists Compare Structural and Functional Evolution with First Atlas of Cavefish Brains
SEP 21, 2020
Scientists Compare Structural and Functional Evolution with First Atlas of Cavefish Brains
Cavefish are fish that dwell in caves, unable to access the outside world. Often, they were separated from their closest ...
Loading Comments...