What’s With the Whiskers?

Health

 

Hello everyone, CEO Olivia here. This morning I sniffed out a cat whisker on the floor. Dottie broke one off while practicing cat-jitsu with Jerry Underfoot. It got me wondering why us four leggers have whiskers but huMom doesn’t seem to have any.

The technical term for whiskers is “vibrissae” which are a special type of hair found in many mammals, including cool cats & good dogs. They differ from normal hair in that they are innervated which means they are directed by the nervous system. At the base of whiskers are special nerves that send sensory messages to the brain.

Whiskers can help determine wind direction on land or current direction in water. They also serve as receptors for important information about the size, shape, & speed of nearby objects, ultimately assisting dogs in ‘viewing’ an object more clearly, even when it’s dark (remember, vision takes a back seat to dogs’ other senses, like smell).

Both cats & dogs can reflexively flare their whiskers & point them in a forward direction when they feel threatened. This may be part of trying to look as big as possible to frighten off an aggressor.

Cats usually have 12 whiskers in neat rows on each side of their face. Dog whiskers aren’t quite so uniform & may appear anywhere on the face or chin.  It’s best to just leave whiskers alone as cutting or plucking them might actually be disorienting for your four legger.

So there you go. I’m still not sure why huMom has no whiskers, but she says she’s okay with it.

CEO Olivia