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Why Are My Cats Whiskers So Long

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Cat whiskers serve as specialized sensory equipment that enhances eyesight and helps cats navigate their environment.
  • Whiskers allow cats to express emotions and help them "see" objects that are too close for their nearsighted eyes.
  • Whiskers are used for hunting, as they can detect prey beneath a cat's paw.
  • Whiskers help cats balance and prevent them from losing their sense of balance.
  • Whiskers above a cat's eyes protect their eyes from foreign objects and allow them to shake away dust particles.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Highly educated researcher and DVM with extensive experience in Clinical VetMedicine, Veterinary Nano Medicine, and Preventive Veterinary Medicine.
Published on
Tuesday 20 February 2024
Last updated on
Monday 30 October 2023
Why Are My Cats Whiskers So Long
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Whiskers are one of the cat’s prominent features. Since they are easily distinguishable, you can notice their length and might wonder why cat whiskers are so long. With that, we are going to enumerate the reasons behind cats’ long whiskers and discuss the factors that do and do not affect their length. In addition, we will also answer the most frequently asked questions about this topic. 

Why Does My Cat Have Long Whiskers?

Cat whiskers are more than just a thick noticeable hair on your cat’s face. A feline’s whiskers serve as specialized sensory equipment that directs it through everyday activities. Similar to the antenna on insects, these unique hairs enhance eyesight and assist your cat in navigating its environment by adding additional sensory information.

To further know about this topic, below are the following reasons why your feline has long whiskers: 

Allows Them to Express Emotions

Emotions may be expressed through whiskers. Muscles can move each of your cat’s whiskers, also known as the magical whiskers, on its muzzle. Your cat’s forward-pointing whiskers indicate excitement. Meanwhile, they may be frightened or worried when they are pressed up against their face. On the other hand, you might notice that calmer kitties often have longer-looking whiskers because it is relaxed. 

To Help Them “See”

Due to their nearsightedness, cats are unable to perceive when an object is too close to them. In this situation, whiskers are helpful and beneficial. It is because whiskers have the ability to move forward, detect motion, and feel things the eyes cannot see. Moreover, whiskers can complement cats’ tactile senses and eyesight and are very useful for kittens in hunting or sensing danger so they can escape.

Helps Them to Hunt

The strange small whiskers on the back of your kitty’s legs are called carpal whiskers. They use their whiskers for hunting. Because of those whiskers, your kitty can detect the animal or prey beneath their paw. This feature is extremely useful especially since cats do not have good vision up close.

Helps Them to Balance

You might wonder why cats always appear to land on their feet. It is because they have proprioceptors, which are specialized sensory organs found at the tips of felines’ whiskers. To keep the cat aware of what each part of its body is doing, the proprioceptors provide information about the position of the brain, according to VCA Hospitals. With that, the absence of whiskers might make them lose their sense of balance and be more prone to accidents. 

Protects Their Eyes

The whiskers above your cat’s eyes, called the superciliary whiskers, protect her eyes from foreign objects, such as a speck of dust or a blade of grass. This feature is similar to the use of human eyelashes. Moreover, the high sensitivity of these whiskers allows felines to shake away particles of dust before they get into their eyes.

Do Cats’ Whiskers Grow Longer As They Gain Weight?

The length of your cat’s whiskers will not change in relation to its body size. It is because felines and their ancestors developed a genetic process in which their facial whiskers are proportionate with the size of their heads. With that, your kitty’s weight will not affect the length of its facial whiskers. 

Which Cat Breeds Have the Longest Whiskers?

Since felines are different from each other, some breeds have longer whiskers than other breeds. With that, here are the following breeds that have the longest whiskers:

Maine Coon

Maine Coons are the largest domesticated cat. A Maine Coon’s whiskers can grow up to six inches long. The reason Maine Coons have such long whiskers is that the length of their whiskers matches the length of their heads. While a bigger Maine Coon could have whiskers that are approximately six inches long, a smaller Maine Coon might only have whiskers that are about four inches long.

Moreover, according to the Guinness World Record, the longest cat whisker recorded was 7.5 inches. That whisker belongs to Missi, a Maine Coon from Finland.  

Norwegian Forest Cat

Since the Norwegian Forest cat and the Maine Coon have so many similar characteristics, some scientists think that the Norwegian Forest cat is a direct ancestor of the Maine Coon cat. Thus, it is not surprising to know that Norwegian Forest Cats are also one of the cat breeds with the longest whiskers. 

Ragdoll Cat

Ragdoll, another enormous breed with a glamorous coat, are more likely to have longer whiskers than other sorts of short-haired felines. The male Ragdoll has longer whiskers since they have slightly bigger heads than the female. The Ragdoll’s tranquil demeanor makes its whiskers appear much longer than they really are.

Persian Cat

Persian cats weigh an average of 12 pounds, which makes them larger than the majority of cats. Additionally, their very long and thick coats give them the appearance of being much larger than they actually are. Plus, they also frequently have longer whiskers than other breeds.

Siberian Cat

Siberian cats share similar characteristics with Norwegian Forest cats. Given their shared traits, it makes sense that both Siberian and Norwegian Forest cats have lengthy whiskers. In addition, Siberian kitties have very thick and long coats, and their whiskers are much thicker and rougher than what is often observed. Due to their enhanced visibility compared to felines with thin and curled whiskers, like the Devon Rex, they may appear longer.

Should I Cut My Cat’s Long Whiskers?

No, you should never trim your cat’s whiskers. The occasional loss of a whisker is very natural and okay. However, trimming them yourself with scissors and other trimming tools is not recommended. 

Since feline whiskers serve as their additional eyes, trimming them short is like blindfolding them. Moreover, it also lessens other cat whisker benefits like eye protection, aid in hunting, and a sense of balance. If you trim their whiskers, you can notice that they look more scared and have a lesser sense of balance. 

Fortunately, if you accidentally trimmed their whiskers, it will not cause any physical damage. Whisker follicles have nerves, but the whiskers do not. 

Why Are My Cats Whiskers So Long: FAQs 

As we wrap up this article, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about cat whiskers: 

Does whisker length mean anything?

Most of the time, a cat’s whisker length corresponds to the size of its head. However, if your cat gained any weight, it will not affect its whisker length. Moreover, on their chins, the area above their eyes, and the backs of their front legs, cat whiskers also develop.

Do cat whiskers fall out?

Even whiskers are still hair. As a result, whiskers do naturally shed and regrow. The similarities between whiskers and the rest of the fur, however, essentially end there. Every few months, a single whisker will fall out, and at any given time, each whisker will be at a distinct phase of the shedding cycle. It’s healthy and usual for cats to shed their whiskers.

Why are my cat’s whiskers curling?

If a cat becomes weak, especially as they age, its whiskers may curl. When cats eat from too-narrow bowls or push their whiskers against other objects or surfaces, their whiskers might occasionally bend. Whenever a cat rubs their face against something, their whiskers may bow.

How many whiskers do cats have?

All cat breeds have specific whisker arrangements. However, most cats have 12 whiskers – which are placed on each cheek and grouped in four rows. In addition, whiskers are more sensitive than regular hair because of the concentrated network of blood vessels and nerves in their follicles.

Can you tell how old a cat is by their whiskers?

A cat’s whiskers are not a good indicator of age unless it is more than a few months old or elderly. This is due to the fact that your cat’s whiskers usually develop to match its breadth. The teeth and dental wear of a cat may be examined instead to determine its age with far greater accuracy.

Even so, younger kittens would not have their whiskers fully developed, and older cats may have some gray whiskers, but neither of these factors is sufficient to reliably or precisely determine a cat’s age.

Why are my cats’ whiskers so short?

Because of the way they are born, cats can have short whiskers. Each cat also has a unique genetic makeup and growth. As a result, cats can have too short of whiskers rather than excessively long.

You might wonder “why are my cat’s whiskers so long?”, but the truth is, your kitty’s whisker could never be too long. Their whiskers are genetically proportionate with their body. Plus, its long length is even an advantage since it aids them in their everyday life, such as in seeing better, hunting, balancing, expressing emotions, and protecting their eyes. 

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