Do cats’ whiskers serve to maintain balance?

cat whiskersYou’ve probably heard or read that cats’ whiskers are used for balance. It’s an urban legend that we’ve all heard at some point… But is it real? What would happen to our cat if we cut off its whiskers?

The origin of the legend of cat whiskers

The truth is that this legend is so old that it is complicated to find the origin of it…

True or false?

What we can assure you is that this statement about the whiskers of our kittens is totally false.

Moreover, it is incorrect to the extent that cats’ sense of balance, as is the case with humans, is in their ears.

So, what are cat whiskers for?

Okay, so we’ve dismantled the theory behind this urban legend, but what are cat whiskers really for?

Cats have what is called “tactile hair” on various areas of their bodies. The main characteristic of this hair is that it is sensitive to touch, in addition to sensing slight variations in pressure.

But in the case of cat whiskers, we could speak of a more advanced version of this tactile hair, as it provides them with very detailed information about air currents, pressure variations and any other volumetric displacements in space. Don’t you find it fascinating?

Cats use this amazing ability, which comes from their whiskers, mainly as a complement to their eyesight, especially in poor lighting conditions and to determine the direction from which certain smells in the environment are coming from.

An unsubstantiated scientific theory

Although scientists disagree on this theory, many believe that cats may also use their whiskers to compare their width with the width of an opening to determine if they can fit into it. This is how they believe they are able to know exactly whether they fit in a space or not, thus avoiding getting stuck.

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