Cats

5 Crazy Cat Anatomy Facts

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Those whiskers are not just for show.
Richard Schultz/Corbis | Ben Welsh/Design Pics/Corbis | GK Hart and Vikki Hart (2) | iStockphoto/Thinkstock | Hemera/Thinkstock

A cat's whiskers are like a radar guidance system, with a bundle of nerve endings telegraphing details about everything the cat touches, as well as shifts in air pressure. His whiskers are the same width as his body, letting him know whether he'll be able to get through a narrow opening or fit behind the TV set.

But whiskers are also navigators. These bristly hairs, found above his eyelids, around his muzzle and on the lower, inside part of his forelegs, help cats move smoothly in darkness. Sensitive to changes in the air current around an unknown object, whiskers enable the cat to avoid the obstacle.

A hunting cat uses its whiskers to zero in on the outline of its prey, letting it know where to strike. Damaged whiskers hamper its aim. A cat's facial whiskers are also mood indicators. Stiff, forward-pointing whiskers mean the cat is aggressive. An angry cat's whiskers are tightly pulled back against its face. And a contented cat's whiskers are picture-perfect, forward, with a slightly downward angle.

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