Cat whiskers, also known as vibrissae, are long, thick hairs that grow around a cat's face, chin, and wrists. They are highly sensitive and help cats to sense their surroundings. Whiskers are made of keratin, the same material that makes up human hair and nails. They are embedded in the skin deeper than regular hairs and have a network of nerves at the base. When a whisker is touched, it sends a signal to the cat's brain, which helps the cat to determine the size, shape, and distance of an object.
Whiskers are used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Navigation: Whiskers help cats to navigate in low-light conditions and to judge the width of openings and the distance between objects.
- Hunting: Whiskers help cats to locate prey and to determine the size and speed of their prey.
- Evasion: Whiskers help cats to avoid obstacles and to detect predators.
- Communication: Whiskers can be used to communicate with other cats. For example, cats may touch each other's whiskers as a way of greeting or as a sign of aggression.
Whiskers are an important part of a cat's sensory system and should be treated with care. If a cat's whiskers are trimmed or damaged, it can make it difficult for the cat to navigate and to hunt. It is important to avoid trimming a cat's whiskers unless it is absolutely necessary.