We know that all cats have whiskers, but do they serve an actual purpose beyond making your kitty's face even more adorable? As it turns out, they do!
If you take a look at your cat's whiskers, you'll notice that they are organized in four neat rows along their cheeks with a cluster spread along their eyebrows and under their chin. While these whiskers are in different places on the face, they all serve the same purpose: to help cats determine where they are, spatially.
Similar to the outer casing of horns, whiskers are a keratin product. While the whiskers themselves don't contain nerves, the area where they sprout from the skin is packed with nerve endings with a strong blood supply. While cats can't actually feel anything with their whiskers themselves, growing from high nerve-ending areas make them the ideal sensory organ.
If cats can't actually feel with their whiskers, how exactly do they help them determine their spatial locations? Using vibration, airflow, and touch, cats use their whiskers to navigate their surroundings, whether it's squeezing into a small space or finding their way around in the dark.
When you look at it that way, cats use their whiskers the same way that we use our fingers and our sense of touch. And just like if we were to lose our fingers, cats would feel disoriented when navigating our environment if they lost their whiskers.
While cats do naturally shed a whisker or two from time to time, whiskers should never be altered or cut in any way unless under veterinary recommendation. In the event that a cat does have to have their whiskers trimmed, they should grow back in a few months. During that time, give your cat the space they need to navigate their environment, as they may be feeling nervous about their lack of spatial perception.
A cat's whiskers may seem insignificant, but they play a big role in keeping your cat safe and happy as they get into their daily kitty mischief.