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Vibrissen: Why cats need their whiskers


They are usually only perceived by us cat owners unconsciously, but they are so important for the cat: the whiskers. The long hair around the mouth, also called vibrissen, is the sixth sense of a velvet paw and fulfills a vital function. Whiskers are extremely important for almost all cats, because they belong to the sense of touch and Felinen give a picture of their environment - Shutterstock / Tarbell Studio Photo

Whiskers are vital for cats, as it is difficult for them to orient themselves without them, because vibrissons are an important part of their sense of touch. The fine antennas perceive a lot from the environment and help the velvet paws to roam safely and precisely through life.

What are whiskers?

Whiskers are the long, protruding hairs around the sides of the cat's mouth. What few people know: Our mini tigers also have vibrisses over the eyes, on some joints and on the chin. On average, a kitty has 24 whiskers. Over time, it can happen that the thick hair falls out - surely you have already found a few copies of it in the apartment.

This is normal and usually not a problem as they grow back. By the way: The name "whiskers" has nothing to do with the purring of cats. It is not clear where the name originally came from. It may be related to the fact that the hair around the face looks like a mustache sticking out to the sides. "Mustache" probably derives from the Low German word "snurbaard" from the 18th century - "snurre" means "snout". It is a beard that grows in the mouth area, i.e. where the most visible whiskers are in the cat.

Whiskers of cats are part of the sense of touch

The vibrisses are connected to innumerable nerve endings and perceive even the smallest breeze in the area. For example, whiskers are indispensable when hunting in the wild because they give the cat an impression of the surroundings, even in poor visibility. At the same time, the hair provides information about whether enemies are sneaking up so that cats can quickly escape when their whiskers give the signal. Another example from the wild: With the help of vibriss, cats also succeed in finding the ideal place for the fatal bite in the neck area of ​​their prey. With the "cat feelers" you notice whether the animal is still moving, where most of the blood is pulsing, and can then bite.

Of course, the vibrissons are also important for domestic cats, even if it's less about hunting or fleeing, but about other, everyday activities. The sense of touch is used in cats in almost every situation and is one of the most important senses of our sofa lions.

On the trail of the cat's sense of touch on velvet paws

Without their special sense of touch, cats could not move so elegantly. With the help of their whiskers ...

Vibrissen tell us a lot about mood

Vibrissen also play a role in communication. This way, as a cat owner, we can find out a lot about the state of mind of our fur noses if we look closely. Here are three examples that you can look out for at your Miez:

• Side-aligned, barely fanned-out whiskers: The cat is probably calm and relaxed - she is fine.
• Whiskers close to back: The cat appears to be afraid and may even be on the verge of an attack.
• Fanned and forward-looking whiskers: The cat is alert and is likely to prepare for an action - possibly a jump or flight.