Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Is It True That All Cats Have Eyebrow Whiskers? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Written by: Lindsey Lawson

Last Updated on May 16, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat trying to climb over the fence

Is It True That All Cats Have Eyebrow Whiskers? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

VET APPROVED

Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Vet, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

One of the most distinct facial features of a cat would be the whiskers. While the most prominent whiskers on a cat are above the upper lip, they have them in several locations, including the eyebrows.

Different cats have varying lengths of whiskers, but do all cats have eyebrow whiskers? Yes, all cats have eyebrow whiskers, but they may be much less noticeable than others. Keep reading to learn all about a cat’s whiskers and the purposes they serve.

cat face divider 2

What Are Whiskers?

A cat’s whiskers may not look like anything other than just long, thick hairs, but they have a very significant purpose in a cat’s life. Whiskers, or vibrissae, are modified hairs that are sometimes referred to as “tactile hairs.” Other than humans, platypus, and echidnas, most mammals will have whiskers at some point in their lives.

Whiskers grow directly from the hair follicle just like any other hair, but they are set much deeper and are full of nerve cells and blood vessels. They work through the vibration that stimulates the nerves within the follicles.

close up of a cat's eye
Image Credit: Ihtar, Pixabay

yarn ball divider

Top 5 Interesting Uses of Whiskers for Cats

1. Balance

Whiskers serve as a messaging system to the brain. The sensory receptors in these hairs communicate messages to the brain about body and limb position so that the cat has full awareness of their body. This is one of the reasons why cats are so famous for landing on their feet.

cat in bird house
Image Credit: Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova, Shutterstock

2. Communication

Whiskers are also an indicator of body language cues. They can help you determine a cat’s current mood. If the whiskers are pushed forward and erect, something has sparked your cat’s interest or curiosity. If they remain rigid and are pulled around the face, they are feeling threatened or fearful. If the whiskers are relaxed, this indicates your cat is comfortable and content.


3. Navigation

Cats are naturally crepuscular creatures, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. This is the time when wild cats are out hunting for prey. Whiskers are sensory organs that help them navigate through their environment, even when it is dark. They also assist with close-up vision, which is not a cat’s strong suit since they struggle to see things any closer than 30 centimeters in front of them.

cat hunting in grass
Image Credit: SJ Duran, Shutterstock

4. Protection

The eyebrow whiskers are also a form of protection for the cat’s eyes. Having them in place can help protect them from debris getting into the eye, or even damage or injury. These whiskers are so sensitive that they will respond to even the tiniest fleck of dust that gets near, which gives your cat the chance to prevent it from getting in their eyes.


5. Locating Food

Whiskers also can help cats hunt and locate their food. Not only do they play a significant role in navigation, but they can also help them pick up on potential prey items through the vibrations they can sense. For indoor house cats, their whiskers can help them locate their food and water bowls in the middle of the night.

siamese kitten eating from a stainless bowl
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

yarn ball divider

Top 5 Facts About Cats’ Whiskers

1. Whiskers Can Grow Back

Any whiskers that become damaged, fall out, or are plucked can and will grow back. Cats have even been known to shed whiskers as they age. It typically takes about 1 to 2 months for whiskers to grow back in, but this varies depending on age and health status.

cat eyes
Image Credit: Annette Meyer, Pixabay

2. They Are Symmetrical

Most cats have an average of 24 whiskers, with 12 on each side of the face. The patterning of the whiskers is dependent on the individual, but they are symmetrical, nonetheless.


3. Whiskers Aren’t Just on the Face

The whiskers located above the upper lip and below the nose are undoubtedly the most distinct whiskers on a cat, followed by the eyebrows. But did you also know they have them on their ears, around the jaw, and even on the forelegs? The whiskers on the forelegs are called carpal whiskers and they are not nearly as prominent as the others but still serve the same purpose and are very helpful when hunting.

Cat paw on a red fabri
Image Credit: Victoria Emerson, Pexels

4. They Can Change Color

None of us can avoid the effects of aging and while your cat will show age in a few ways, their whiskers changing color is one of them. Rather than turning light gray to white like a lot of hairs do when you age, a cat’s whiskers will turn darker gray and may even turn black.


5. You Should Never Cut Whiskers

close up of a turkish van cat
Image Credit: mammela, Pixabay

Whiskers may be able to grow back, but you should never cut them. These hairs are especially important because of the purposes they serve, and you could seriously disorient your cat by removing them. They would be unable to sense and navigate their surrounding environment as effectively.

yarn ball divider

Conclusion

All cats have eyebrow whiskers, though the length, shape, and overall look of the whiskers can vary by individual. Not only are whiskers located on the eyebrows and below the nose, but they are also found around the ears, the jaw, and on the forelegs. These thick, sensitive hairs play a very important role in your cat’s day to day life and serve many different purposes.


Featured Image Credit: Kalo Kanev, Shutterstock

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart

Pangolia

© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.