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Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

Getting in the Mood

Whiskers serve another purpose besides acting as guidance, tracking, and radar systems – they also serve as a kind of barometer for the cat’s moods. When a cat is resting or content, its whiskers will be mostly immobile. But if you see the whiskers suddenly bunch up and lay flat against the cat’s face -- that may be a sign that the cat is scared.

Perhaps when playing “chase the toy” with a cat, you’ll notice its whiskers are pointing forward. This is probably its “game face,” a sign that your cat is in hunting mode.

The whiskers also make it pretty easy to tell when a cat is startled or excited, because every hair on its body will be standing on end, including the whiskers, which will point almost completely forward.

Whiskers are a vital part of a cat’s mobility and sense of security. Without whiskers, cats would not be able to achieve the great acrobatic feats that are so awe-inspiring, or protect themselves from dangerous situations.

Image: L. Whittaker / via Flickr

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