The vibrisas: meet your cat through his mustaches


Feline mustaches are very sensitive rigid hairs that replace the lack of close vision of the animal and help you explore the territory and communicate

  • Author: By EVA SAN MARTÍN
  • Last update: March 22, 2017

The Cat whiskers are not only attractive and one of the outstanding characteristics of feline anatomy. They are also a powerful animal communication tool which serves them to hunt, explore the territory and even to express their emotions. This article reveals some of the secrets of the best kept or least known cats about their whiskers, including: how many do they have, how do they supplement the poor near vision that this animal has, why they help the cat before entering a narrow hole and how it uses them to move even in the dark.

1. How many whiskers do cats have?

Cats have between eight and twelve moving mustaches on each side of their nose. Although with exceptions - some have more, others less -, this means that in total each cat has between 16 and 24 vibrisas (in technical language) in this area of ​​your face.

These mustaches are different from the rest of the hairs that cover the body of the animal. "The whiskers of the cat are very stiff hairs with an important function in their sense of touch, since they act as receptors," explains Angela Prieto, of the Complutense University of Madrid, and author of the study 'The whiskers of the cat'.

2. Cat's whiskers: not just under his snout

These types of stiff hairs or vibrisas, however, are not only found under the snout of the cat. They can also be located above the eyes, on the chin and even on the back of the legs of the cat.

Feline vibrisas, in addition, are not just any hair. "The cat's whiskers are inserted at a depth three times greater than the rest of the fur," says this expert, and are equipped with sensory cells at their base, which make them sensitive to almost any movement that occurs near them. "These qualities explain that the whiskers of the cats are a very special organ and one of the most developed of these animals," adds Prieto.

3. Cat whiskers help you "see" closely

Cats have trouble seeing objects less than 30 centimeters, but whiskers help them create the 3D image they need

The eyes of cats, like those of many carnivorous hunters, have specialized in locating distant prey. This explains that feline eyes have evolved to focus forward and at a certain distance.

This quality, however, implies some complication to the furry friends: cats often have trouble seeing the nearest objects clearly. "Felines have difficulty focusing on objects that are less than 30 centimeters from their eyes," explains expert cat veterinarian John Bradshaw, author of 'The Cat's Sense' (Cat sense, Allen Lane, 2013).

Fortunately, his mustaches seem determined to come to his aid. "To compensate for these near vision limitations, felines have learned to turn their whiskers forward and to capture tactile stimuli that, when they reach the brain, provide them with a very detailed three-dimensional image of what they have in front, "explains this scientist.

4. Whiskers serve the cat to explore, even in the dark

Consequence of its high sensitivity, the cat's whiskers they function as an early warning of what is going on around them. "The vibrisas serve to warn the animal that something is approaching its face, in this way they can avoid crashes against walls or obstacles and avoid approaching objects that could damage your eyes or face"adds veterinarian Stanley Coren of the University of Vancouver (Canada).

This amazing capacity becomes very relevant in certain situations, among them, during his nightly scuba diving, in case of dismissal, as well as during his long hours of sleep, in which the cat lowers its guard against possible dangers.

5. Cat whiskers, will I enter this hole?

The length of the cat's whiskers matches the width of its body, so they help you know whether or not you will enter a small space

The length of the cat's whiskers usually coincides with the approximate width of its body. This rule does not work when a cat is overweight, but it does serve to get an idea of ​​the importance of these hairs.

"The whiskers help you know whether or not it will fit in a certain hole, since the length of the feline vibrisas are about the width of your body, so, these hairs help you before entering a narrow space, "explains the Missouri Animal Protection Association.

In this way, mustaches are a kind of natural rule with which to estimate if a space is too small to enter inside. How do they do that? "It is normal for a cat to explore with its head the space before deciding to enter it, try to put its head and take it out as a previous step to introduce the rest of the body," clarify these experts.

Again, in case of overweight cats, this hairy rule may fail, and leave the cat trapped in a hole that, despite the approval of his whiskers, turned out to be narrower than his body.

6. Cat whiskers: what do they say?

In addition, the whiskers of felines fulfill an important function as communication tools. How? The Cat's whiskers position says a lot about his mood.

Relaxed feline whiskers indicate that the animal is quiet. On the contrary, the vibrisas will move forward when it is on alert. What if the cat's whiskers smash against his skunk? This will be a sign that the furry companion is angry or scared.

The whiskers of cats are very important for these animals, because without them they would have many problems to communicate and it would cost them to explore their territory.

Cats, apart from the fur that covers their body, they have very sensitive mustaches, longer than the rest of the hairs on his body and five times wider, which are called vibrisas.

Cat whiskers are not just one of their attractions. Are too an essential animal communication tool They need to hunt, explore the territory and even express their emotions.

How many vibrisas do cats have?

Cats have between eight and twelve moving mustaches on each side of their nose. Although there are exceptions with more and less mustaches, most cats have between 16 and 24 vibrisas in this area of ​​his face.

These mustaches are different from the rest of the hairs that cover the body of the animal, and act as touch receivers (capture information from abroad). They are not exclusive to cats. They also have other mammals such as dogs, foxes, and even humans (in the nose and ears).

Mustaches beyond the snout

These rigid hairs, or vibrisas, are not found only in the lower part of the feline's snout. Cats usually have them on the eyebrows, mustaches, behind the front legs and, in some cases, on the chin.


In addition, they are five times wider than the rest of your body's hairs, and are inserted three times deeper into the skin to join multiple nerve endings through sensory cells. This makes them extremely sensitive animals. to almost any movement that happens around him.

They help you "see closely"

Cats are carnivorous hunters, so his eyes have specialized in locating remote dams. Therefore, their feline eyes have evolved in such a way that they can focus forward and at a certain distance.

This quality, however, has a counterpart: cats often have trouble seeing the nearest objects clearly. Specifically, those who are less than 30 centimeters from their eyes.

Luckily, to compensate for near vision limitations, cats turn their whiskers forward and capture stimuli that reach the brain and provide them with a very detailed 3D image of what they have in front of them.

They are used to explore and protect against hazards

The cat's whiskers function as an alert of what is happening around him, because of his high sensitivity. They serve to warn the cat that something is approaching his face, and so you can avoid crashes against walls and other obstacles, in the same way that you can avoid approaching dangerous objects for your eyes or face. Thanks to their mustaches, cats can fearlessly perform their night scams and rest without worrying about lowering their guard.

The way to know if they enter a hole

The length of the vibrisas exceed both the height (in the eyebrows) and the width of the animal, allowing to measure the space where it can pass. The whiskers will help you know whether or not you can pass through a specific hole, as long as the cat is not overweight, since his whiskers will not give him a real perception of the size of his body.

For cats, their whiskers function as a natural rule that allows them to estimate whether a space is too small, or not, to enter inside.

What your whiskers tell us

Through animal body language we can deduce if they are bad, if they are scared or distressed. In the case of cats, we have ears and tail as an essential part of their body language. However, mustaches also offer us very relevant information about them:

  • When his mustaches are on his side, it is because he is relaxed.
  • When the vibrisas are thrown back, along their cheeks, it is very possible that our cat feels fear, stress or is sick.
  • When he is happy, his mustaches extend as if he were a fan.
  • If something makes you curious> В © ВЎHOLA! The total or partial reproduction of this report and its photographs is prohibited, even citing their origin.

What are cat whiskers called and where are they?

Known as "vibrisas", cat whiskers are thick hairs especially sensory that are found in various parts of your body such as the pads around the snout (the longest), above and at the ends of the eyes, on the chin and also, tufts of this type of hair at the back of your front legs. Mustaches are a way to complete the perception of your surroundings.

The whiskers of cats are very sensitive thick hairs that are found on the padded part of the snout, above the eyes, chin or on the back of the front legs.

His mustaches are a radar that they give many uses in their day to day

Cat whiskers are very different from other types of cat hair and they have many nerve receptors at their base and a lot of blood supply, hence they are as sensitive and function as a radar, since they can detect even small air currents.

The minimum movement of the whiskers of the padded part of the cat's snout stimulates nerve endings and offers information to the cat in detail about the surrounding environment.

The length of the cat's whiskers is just like the width of its body, which allows you to calculate the space where they may or may not pass.

In the dark, the cat's whiskers also allow him to find the path clear of obstacles since they help them detect possible air currents to avoid objects and surround them.

Cat whiskers are like air detectors, which combined with their sense of smell, contribute to sharpen the identification of any smell.

Cat's whiskers as a hunting tool

Cat whiskers as a hunting tool they are also very important, especially at night since they are able to provide important information about the situation and distance of a dam, as well as being able to attack the most vital part of your body for a successful hunt.

Mustaches in the hunt greatly improve the visibility limitation of the cat over short distances to capture its prey.

It may happen that damaged cat whiskers make it less reliable in their fighters and do not kill their prey once bitten.

The thick mustache hairs on the part of its front legs help the cat to climb trees and also for the contact of its hunting prey.

As means of expressing your mood The whiskers for the cat are also very important. A cat has four rows of mustaches on each side of the face, when the animal is calm, they remain on their side, while they are arranged backwards if they are in an attack or defense position.

Make him feel comfortable in his feeder

Since the cat's mustache is a very long and thick type of hair on the padded part of its snout, it is recommended to feed the cat its food in bowls or containers that are wide and shallow since it is very annoying to eat his cat food in a bowl where he touches the ends with his mustache and usually avoid eating in this type of container.

Cats avoid eating in narrow and deep containers because of the discomfort they generate from their whiskers.

About touching your cat's whiskers

Because of their sensitivity, some cats do not like to be stroked by their whiskers, although there are others who show pleasure when they are caressed mustaches affectionately smoothing them back. It is possible that once you do this you take the occasional bite or scratch,)

Don't cut your cat's whiskers!

Cat's Mustaches they fall periodically and grow back. Its disappearance affects the movement and direction of the animal. It is of great importance to know that a cat's whiskers should not be cut under any circumstances.

For a brush in times of change of your cat -not mustaches, of course-, accompanied by an edifying massage, Cookieswil recommends a practical brush that you will receive in your home in a short time like this:

And finally, we leave you a famous phrase that seems very appropriate to define this great feline companion animal:

"When elegance wanted to exist, she dressed in nails, hair and mustaches and became a cat" (William IX of Aquitaine).

What do you think of this phrase about cats?

If you want to see "move your cat's whiskers"In a healthy and very natural way you can give any of our varieties of artisanal biscuits for cats: we have chicken and tuna. They are handcrafted with natural ingredients, like our entire range of products, without artificial additives or colors, surely Your cat will love it!