If a cat’s whiskers are the width of its body, do they get longer if it puts on weight?

Thursday 10th February 2011
Submitted by Leahnedahl
TOMO HAWK, FACEBOOK

No. In the absence of scientific evidence, I asked my vet who measured the whiskers of different cats and found those of a very overweight cat to be no longer than the rest. My own tiny kittens have whiskers much longer than their body width – at the moment. Whiskers have very sensitive nerves at the base and cats use them to feel objects and surfaces, to judge distances and even to detect air movement. Their near vision is poor, so they rely heavily on their whiskers for sensing close objects: old cats and others with poor vision rely on them even more. Individual whiskers start short, grow slowly and eventually fall out, so cats learn and adapt to such changes all the time. The precise length is not critical.

GOT A QUESTION?

Scratching your head over a burning scientific conundrum? submit your question and we'll get our esteemed panel of experts to answer it for you.

 

Is anything genuinely permanent?
previous qanda Article
Why aren’t we replacing petrol cars with hydrogen rather than electric ones?
next qanda Article
Q&A Tabs

Like the rest of the Earth’s landmass, Antarctica is affected by ‘continental drift’, and is propelled across the face of our planet by the roiling motion of convective currents...

Not for long. The gruesome idea of nails and hair continuing to grow on a rotting corpse is fascinating. But it’s a myth – at least if you’re thinking of luscious locks and long...

Your DNA is arranged into chromosomes, which are grouped into 23 pairs. When a sperm cell is manufactured, the father’s genome is split in two, so that each sperm receives one chromosome...

It’s long been known that just over-heating, let alone burning, some foods can lead to the formation of compounds linked to cancer. These include heterocyclic amines and so-called polycyclic...

Ordinary glass absorbs 97 per cent of the UVB rays that cause sunburn and some skin cancers, and 37 per cent of the less harmful UVA radiation. This translates to a protection of about SPF30, so...

All female mammals have a clitoris, the sole purpose of which is to react to sexual stimulation, and presumably this stimulation has evolved to be pleasurable for most species. But establishing...

To create a sound, we have to set matter - whether it's a gas like air, a liquid or even a solid material - in regular motion, creating a wave of specific frequencies, which we hear as a sound of...

Mirrors don’t reverse left and right either – that’s just our interpretation of what happens. Your reflection in the mirror is actually reversed front to back – if you have...

Discovered by an American student named Gary Flandro in the mid-1960s, the slingshot manoeuvre usually involves spacecraft briefly 'coat-tailing' a planet orbiting the Sun, extracting some of the...

The ice disappears because the wind blows away water molecules that have evaporated or 'sublimed' from the ice, so the ice slowly shrinks in size. The molecules that escape are those with the...

We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here