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Health & Wellness

Why do cats have whiskers?

There's so many ways to communicate with your cat

Our cats mean so much to us that we‘ll do anything to strengthen our bond with them. You may already know that cats communicate through their tails, but did you know that cats also use their whiskers to let us know how they’re feeling? Veterinarian and pet health advocate Dr. Aliya McCullough shares how important whiskers really are.

Cats have between 10 and 14 whiskers that, unlike their fur, are connected to important sensory tissues buried within the skin. Whiskers grow around their jaw, under their chin and above the eyes — but they also have some on their front paws. 

Whiskers are like a pair of glasses for a cat, as most cats are short-sighted and have trouble seeing things unless up close to them. Their whiskers inform our best friends about surrounding objects, air movement and other important environmental information. They can help cats make decisions about things like whether they can fit into that tight space behind the couch. The whiskers on the front paws can even let them know if there is prey within their reach.

But their whiskers can also let you know how your cat is feeling. Erect, straight whiskers mean your cat is angry, while limp whiskers mean they’re content. If the whiskers lay back towards their face it may mean your cat is frightened. 

Be sure to never ever cut your cat’s whiskers. Losing their whiskers can make them very disoriented, and (among other things) cause them to lose the confidence to navigate tight or dark spaces. 

Now that you can tap into the world of your cat’s whiskers, you may find that your best friend has a lot to say. 

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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