Cats are cute. I think we can all agree.
From their big colored eyes to their button noses, to their little whiskers. Something I was noticing more lately is my cat’s little whiskers.
Adorable as they are, I wonder their purpose. One of the things I came to find out was that cats use their whiskers to communicate.
I knew cats communicate using body language, I just didn’t think whiskers were a part of that. I started to observe my cat closely and noticed his whiskers were pulled forward.
I was curious, what does it mean when a cat’s whiskers are forward?
What does it mean when a cat’s whiskers are forward?
A cat’s whiskers pulled forward can mean a few things. To fully understand what it means for a cat, you need to watch the ears and general body language.
What Does It Mean When A Cat’s Whiskers Are Forward?
With their whiskers, cats give us clues about how they are feeling. If you have ever watched your cat, you will notice that in different situations, their whiskers will be in different positions.
When a cat’s whiskers are forward it can mean a couple of things. However, cats are complex and it’s not always as simple as forward whiskers equal a happy cat.
You will find those whisker movements are accompanied by the movement of the ears as well.
The whiskers and ears work together to give you an idea of what the cat is saying. Cats have whiskers in three places on their face.
A set of whiskers are on the eyebrows, chin and muzzle, which are the longest ones. In total there are 24 whiskers on a cat’s muzzle. These whiskers are the ones they use to communicate.
So what does it mean? If you see a cat with forward facing whiskers that are stiff, be careful.
This shows offensive aggression. The ears of a cat will also be pointing forward. You can check their body language and tail to be sure that you’re witnessing an aggressive cat.
However, forward whiskers that are slightly pointed at a downwards angle tell a different story. These whiskers mean that a cat is content.
Whiskers that are moving sideways to forward can indicate that a cat is in pain. Again, by checking body language you will be able to be sure that this is how your cat is feeling.
The face of a cat that is in pain is usually tense. Whiskers that are forward and fanned out will show you that a cat is interested.
Cats will also have their whiskers forward and fanned when hunting. If a cat is interested, the mouth will be closed and the lips are loose.
What Does It Mean When A Cat’s Whiskers Are Pulled Back?
Cats also move their whiskers to show other emotions besides the ones I’ve explained. It’s important to know all the positions and what they mean since it can help in unpleasant situations.
When a cat is feeling anxious or afraid, their whiskers will show this by being pulled close to the face. The ears are normally pulled to the side as well.
Cats pull their whiskers close to themselves in an attempt to make themselves smaller.
If a cat is really angry, they will pull their whiskers tightly to their face. Body language will be able to help distinguish when a cat is mad.
Be careful not to misinterpret a cat that is afraid with one that is angry!
Other Forms Of Body Language
Now that you know what whiskers mean and how they are used to tell us the mood of a cat. It’s a good idea to learn the way cats use other parts of their body to communicate with us!
Since the whiskers and ears are used together to tell what they are feeling. It’s a smart thing to learn what the different ear positions of a cat are telling you.
A cat’s neutral ear position is facing forward. Cats normally keep their ears facing forward which means they are relaxed and happy!
This means a cat is open to playing or being pet! Upright and forward tells you that a cat is alert and listening.
It’s common to see cats position their ears like this when hunting. Flattened or pinned down ears means a cat is afraid and this can lead to aggression so be cautious!
If a cat does this, it’s best to give them some room. However, if a cat’s ears are low and facing out, this may mean they are not feeling well.
Be watchful of other body language and unusual behavior to give you a better indication. Downwards, flat ears mean that a cat is upset. This may be a sign that a cat is aggressive.
A cat with an arched back is often seen during Halloween, however, what is the real meaning of a cat with an arched back?
Well, if you see a cat arching their back after a nap, this is probably just a stretch. A cat doing this is normally pretty relaxed and non-threatening.
If you see a cat arching their back any other time, it means that a cat is defensive and is feeling scared. Cats arch their back to make themselves look bigger to hopefully ward off whatever is scaring them.
If you see a cat arching their back, give them space, and try and figure out what is making them so afraid.
Eyes are the windows to the soul. They can tell a lot about how a cat is feeling.
If a cat’s eyes show narrow pupils, this means that they are aroused. This can mean a few things.
Cats can be aroused by fear, anger, or by happiness. For example, if a cat is playing with their favorite toy, you might see them with narrow pupils.
The opposite, which are wide pupils, mean that a cat is excited or afraid. To know which emotion your cat is experiencing you need to look for the context of the situation and other body language.
You can see a cat’s eyes go wide when they hear a noise that startles them. Or you could see them with wide pupils looking at the catnip you have in your hand.
The tail of a cat tells a great lot. I will go over a few common tail positions that you might see with your cat!
A high tail means confidence and contentment. If you see your cat strutting around with their tail held high, this means they are approachable.
A curved tail at the top means that a cat is in a playful mood.
While a tail low to the ground can mean that a cat is in an aggressive mood. A tail that’s tucked away shows you that a cat is scared. Tucking the tail away shows submission.
If you find your cat with a tail puffed up, this indicates that they are very annoyed or scared. This is another way cats try to make themselves look bigger.
What Are Whiskers For?
Other than being used to tell others how they feel, whiskers have more purposes for a cat. Whiskers are a cat’s sensory tool.
They aid cats to see in the dark. All they need to do is swipe their whiskers across and object or surface and they will be able to tell a lot about what that thing is.
It’s a great tool that cats can use to see if a space is big enough for them to fit in.
Not only that, but whiskers can also be used to detect air vibrations. They can use this to measure distance, run after prey, and even to sense potential danger!
If all that isn’t enough, whiskers protect the face. Whiskers graze across surfaces before the face does and a cat will be able to steer clear of sharp objects before it touches their face.
It’s Never Okay To Cut A Cat’s Whisker
Even though a cat’s whisker looks like hair, it isn’t. Whiskers are actually connected to a cat’s muscular and nervous system.
They are sensitive and send messages to a cat’s brain. It is never okay to cut, trim or mess with a cat’s whisker.
Like I have previously explained, whiskers serve many purposes and are essential to a cat. Trimming or cutting a whisker off of a cat can leave them scared and they might struggle to interact with their environment.
You might not have thought twice about your cat’s whiskers but they move and their movements tell us about how they are feeling. When a cat moves their whiskers forward, it can mean a few things.
The small differences in how cats place their whiskers can mean a world of difference. You can tell more about how a cat is feeling when you couple the whisker position to the body language.
Ears are normally used together with whiskers to decipher a cat’s mood. Other than communicating how they feel, whiskers are used for many reasons.
A cat’s whiskers are sensitive and should never be cut or generally messed with. Cats truly are fascinating, right down to the whiskers!