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Why do Cats Have Whiskers? (And Should You Trim them or Not?)

Why do Cats Have Whiskers?

As well as being incredibly cute, a cat’s whiskers also serve an important purpose, but just what is this purpose and how useful could these extended facial hairs possibly be? We take a look at the facts to provide the answers and we also tell you whether you should trim them or not if you think they have grown too long.

Why do Cats Have Whiskers?

Cats use their whiskers to get a better understanding of their surroundings, especially when it’s dark. They see much better in low light than we do and they can use them to get a better understanding of how close or far away a certain object is. They can also use them to detect shifts in air current, which alerts them to nearby prey.

A cat can also use its whiskers to determine how narrow a gap is and whether they can fit down it or not. Of course, cats are getting stuck in tight spaces all of the time, so we can say with relatively certainty that this doesn’t always work out for them.

These whiskers are not just around its mouth and nose. There are also similar, equally fine hairs around their ears. If you have ever moved your hand close to your cat’s ear and watched as it flicked it madly, even though you’re not actually touching it, then you have witnessed the power of these hairs firsthand.

They are like parking senses for your cat. But they do more than help the cat detect dangers. They can also show the cat’s owners whether they are relaxed or annoyed. If they are pulled taut, then there is a good chance your cat is scared and feeling backed into a corner. If they are relaxed and pointing away from their face then they are probably relaxed and content.

Of course, their ears, their eyes and maybe even their teeth will give you a better idea of whether they are annoyed at you or not, but if those signs aren’t there then the whiskers might give their state of mind away.

Should I Trim My Cat’s Whiskers?

In our experience, most cat owners think their cat’s whiskers are longer than they actually are. It’s a process all new cat owners go through.

“Look at the size of those! That must be a record.”

“Let me Google it.”

“Oh, okay, maybe not.”

But even if they are indeed record breaking whiskers, you should avoid trimming them. Your cat needs them to get around and may feel a little lost without them. You shouldn’t be the one to decide how long they should be and how long they need to be. If your cat has them and they aren’t causing any problems except for a few tickles here and there when they get close to your face, then there is just no reason to trim them.

If you saw that your friend was wearing a particularly large pair of glasses with really thick lenses, would you take them away and replace them with smaller and thinner ones?

Of course not. And it’s the same principle…to an extent.