The following is a brief overview of how cats touch things using whiskers to explore and interact with their environment:
- Cats generally have about <B>a dozen whiskers</B> in four rows on each upper <B>lip</B>, a few on each <B>cheek</B>, tufts over the <B>eyes </B>and bristles on the <B>chin</B>.
- Whiskers may also be found on the cat's <B>inner "wrists"</B>, and there are similar hairs which make up the cat's <B>eyebrows</B>.
- The <B>Sphynx</B> (a nearly hairless breed) may have full length, short, or no whiskers at all.
- Whiskers (technically called vibrissae) can aid with <B>navigation and sensation</B>.
- Whiskers may detect very small shifts in air currents, enabling a cat to know it is near <B>obstructions </B>without actually seeing them.
- The upper two rows of whiskers can <B>move independently</B> from the lower two rows for even more precise measuring.
- It is thought that a cat may choose to rely on the whiskers in <B>dim light</B> where fully dilating the pupils would reduce its ability to focus on close objects.
- The whiskers also spread out roughly as wide as the cat's body making it able to judge if it can <B>fit through an opening</B>.
- Whiskers are also an indication of the cat's <B>attitude</B>: Whiskers point forward when the cat is <B>inquisitive and friendly</B>, and lie flat on the face when the cat is being <B>defensive or aggressive</B>.