What’s Up With the Whiskers?

This highly sophisticated sensory system is key to a feline?s survival.

Whiskers or vibrissae (pronounced vahy-bris-uh) are made up of sinus and tylotrich hairs (highly specialized skin appendages), that comprise a highly sophisticated sensory system capable of detecting slight wind variations and sudden movement. Since cats hunt instinctively, whiskers help our favorite species survive.

These prominent follicles aid our feline friends to catch prey at close range, much like a pair of reading glasses helps humans capture words on a page. “Cats are farsighted and can’t see prey they’ve caught,” says Alice Moon-Fanelli, veterinarian and clinical assistant professor at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, citing the use of whiskers as a means to get in and out of any given situation.

**Get the November 2007 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article.**

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