cat whiskers in the dark
Cat Health

Cat Whiskers Functions

Ever wondered what are the cat whiskers for? It turns out that the whiskers help them to orient themselves in the space around them, especially in the dark. For cats, they are very important and the main organ of contact.  Home cats are active mostly at night. Therefore the whiskers are obviously helping them to sense the nearby objects and intercept their prey, especially in the absence of light.

Cat Whiskers Anatomy

Cat Whiskers are linked to tissues, which have multiple nerve endings. These nerves can detect the slightest movement in the air. Thus, cats can feel nearby objects, without seeing them, which is an advantage in the dark. Cats have about 24 thin but very sensitive whiskers. They are 12 moving whiskers on each side of its mouth. Their size is around 2-3 times thicker than the rest of the fur, but their roots go deeper.

cat whiskers dark
Cat whiskers are like an orientating radar for the cat in the dark.



Because the cat whiskers are very sensitive to touch, cats use them to determine the position or movement of an object or prey. Cat whiskers also help them to estimate how wide a gap is, before attempting to pass through it. The British Encyclopedia recognizes that “the function of the cat whiskers is not fully understood, but it is known that if cut, the cat is temporarily out of balance.

Protective function

Even the slightest touch to the whiskers and the cat can instantly cause a nictitans reflex. This function very useful and needed when the cat slips through bushes and dense grass.

Perceivable function

Cat whiskers and eyebrows act as an internal view. It is worth noting that scientists proved long ago that even a blind cat can move around the room accordingly.

Thanks to the whiskers, the cat receives information for all of the things around her. Not only this but she receives information about how far they are, its own form and size.

Estimation of the movement of air masses

Every movement in the space creates motion of the air masses. Along with these air masses, in the air, there are a lot of odours, which are very important for the cats.

Mood indicator


hanging cat whiskers
Hanging cat whiskers can indicate that the cat is sad.


Some believe that you can estimate the mood of the cat by its whiskers. If they are pointing upwards, this means that they are friendly and playful. But if the whiskers are just hanging, then the cat is in bad mood and better don’t bother it.

Importance of cat whiskers

cat whiskers


Scientists are designing robots equipping them with sensors similar to the whiskers of the cats. This helps them to manoeuvre around obstacles. According to the scientist Ali Jaye of The University of California at Berkley, these sensors, called electronic whiskers “must be widely used in high robotics, in man-machine interfaces and in biology”.



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