DEC 31, 2019 02:55 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.
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