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.

 

If our body is about 37°C, why does 30°C feel so hot?
previous qanda Article
Why aren’t we replacing petrol cars with hydrogen rather than electric ones?
next qanda Article
Q&A Tabs

Phlegm is the mucous secretion of the respiratory passages. The cilia cells that line these passages are continually driving the phlegm upward to the throat, where it triggers the swallow reflex...

Astronomer Fred Hoyle was the first to point out that if you could drive a car upwards at 95km/h (60mph), it would only take about an hour to get into space. To get to the Moon would take a little...

It depends on how high (or low) you set the bar of fluency. Ziad Fazah, born in Liberia, brought up in Beirut and now living in Brazil, claims to be the world's greatest living polyglot, with...

Viagra is the brand name for sildenafil citrate, a drug that was originally studied for use in patients with high blood pressure or heart disease. It works by blocking the action of an enzyme...

It would be very difficult. Insects pollinate at least a third of the total volume of crops cultivated worldwide, and many are useful predators of non-insect pests such as mites. Even if we...

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...