We’ve been there and we’ve done that! We, as pet parents, are obsessed with our fluffy felines and we’re not even ashamed to admit that. Come on, we spend hours and hours staring at them and wondering “Do cats have eyebrows?” and “What are those little antennas above my cat’s eyes?”
We know how eyebrows can make or break your look. We’ve seen Kendall Jenners and Bella Hadids of the world bleaching the area above the eyes and trolling the world by calling the whole thing “fashion.” Maybe we’re not fashionable enough, but we’re happy our fluffers didn’t choose the modeling route.
On the other hand, we can’t overlook the fact that eyebrows go trending on TikTok every two weeks. One week we’re brushing them upwards, and the other we’re shaving them off to fake a facelift.
And then, we start researching our cat’s eyebrows because everyone’s freaking out over the question of whether they’re real or not. Worry not, we’re here to offer a helping hand.
Right off the bat, cats don’t have eyebrows. But, that might come as a shock, considering we’ve seen cats sporting those long, rough hairs above the eyes. As a matter of fact, those are whiskers, even though they’re not as “well-known” as those around the mouth.
What are those eyebrow-looking whiskers above a cat’s eyes?
As a pet parent, you’ve probably seen your cat’s eyebrow whiskers a million times and thought those were her eyebrows because they’re located right on the brow bone. And, considering that’s where our eyebrows are, you didn’t even consider the possibility those antennas would be anything but eyebrows.
Now, these whiskers aren’t necessarily known as eyebrow whiskers. But, we’re going to refer to them that way for the sake of clarity. We don’t want you to think we’re talking about the ones around her mouth even though they play the same part. What’s that part, though?
Whiskers are longer and thicker than the rest of the cat’s coat. They’re easy to notice even though they emerge from the same follicles (but the roots are three times deeper than the rest of the coat). They don’t cover the entire body, but they’re located around the mouth, the chin, the eyes, and the paws.
Here comes the fun part – whiskers are actually sensory organs that transmit information to your cat’s brain and help her navigate through the environment.
Whiskers grow from follicles that are packed with blood vessels and nerves and located around sensory cells responsible for transmitting information and keeping your cat aware of movements, currents, and pressure around her. Therefore, those little antennas above your cat’s eyes are super, super important!
Do cats have eyebrows, then?
We know what you might be thinking. “Why can’t we say that cats have eyebrows when we can see that they have little hairs above their eyes – and that’s exactly what eyebrows are?” Of course, you’re making a point. But, you’re forgetting that we can’t compare a cat’s eyebrows to our own.
First off, human eyebrows are short hairs located above each eye following the shape of the eyebrow bone. They serve two functions. They protect the eye from sweat, water, and other gunk flying around. And, they communicate feelings and emotions through facial expressions.
On the other hand, a cat’s eyebrow whiskers might be located around the same area. However, other than protecting the eyes from outside factors, they serve a completely different purpose.
Eyebrow whiskers are more comparable to human fingertips than eyebrows – they’re sensitive, beaming with nerves, and help explore the environment through touch. That being the case, we can argue that cats don’t have eyebrows.
But, they’re not that concerned with the lack of 2022’s most messed-with feature among humans. Eyebrow whiskers carry a bunch of benefits, and we’re bringing you a rundown on each and every one of them. Take a peep!
What are the benefits of a cat’s eyebrow whiskers?
Whiskers are pretty great, don’t you think? Most cats have them, even though there are breeds that seem to possess more whiskers than others. For example, fluffier cats such as Ragdoll, Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest cat, and Siberian cat have bushier whiskers.
Cats with fewer fluffs, such as the Sphynx, have thinner whiskers that aren’t easily detectable. Others don’t have them at all! And, a cat’s whiskers can even be black!
Truth be told, whiskers can come in different shapes, sizes, and colors – but, they serve the same purpose regardless of their appearance. We’re putting the focus on your cat’s eyebrow whiskers and we’re bringing you a couple of things you can look forward to next time you wonder “Do cats have eyebrows?”
1. They protect the eyes
Our eyebrows protect our eyes from sweat, water, and other things that might try to enter that area. However, cats sweat through their paw pads which means they don’t need eyebrows to protect them from sweat. Additionally, they don’t mess with water for the most part.
However, eyebrow whiskers protect a cat’s eyes from dust, dirt, and debris. Actually, they send a special signal to the cat’s brain to close her eyes when they sense danger.
For example, when a cat’s running through a field, she needs to “blink” and close her eyes to protect them from sharp grass blades and sand spurs.
Other than that, these whiskers detect pretty much any movement which can help your cat duck down when she’s getting attacked, or when there’s something flying at her. Or even when you’re trying to clean her face and a drop of water comes marching her way.
2. They help them maintain balance
“Awww, poor cats, they don’t have eyebrows… How can they live without them?!” Turns out cats have a much better feature that doesn’t make them envious of our plain, short eyebrow hairs. Eyebrow whiskers can help your cat land on her feet and maintain balance at all times.
And, that’s possible because cats have proprioceptors at the ends of their whiskers. They react to gravity, which helps them determine how they’re positioned in relation to the ground.
On that same note, when a cat falls or leaps off of the ground, she can twist and turn as much as she wants, but end up on her feet when she’s done. We’re pretty sure that’s where the “cats have nine lives” thing comes from.
On the other hand, some people argue that a cat’s balance doesn’t depend on her whiskers but rather on her ears. When a cat deals with ear problems (an inner ear infection, for example), she loses her balance. What do you think?
Cats are better than humans, for the most part. They’re self-sufficient. They know exactly what they want and how to get that. And, they possess a superior sense of smell and hearing. But, they’re not as advanced when we’re talking about sight, given that they’re farsighted.
For that reason, cats depend on whiskers to detect changes around them and send signals to their brains. Eyebrow whiskers can sense vibrations and changes in air currents and air pressure to decern whether there’s something that needs to be dodged, walked over, etc.
4. They help them see during the night
Cats might not have eyebrows, but eyebrows wouldn’t be able to help them see better at night anyway. Whiskers, on the contrary, help them detect danger and react accordingly.
Without whiskers, a cat wouldn’t be able to hunt at night because she wouldn’t be able to detect her target or attack without sensing her prey.
Don’t get me wrong, cats are superior to humans when we’re talking about night vision. But, that’s not to say that they don’t need a little help every now and then. Eyebrow whiskers make sure they don’t make a fool out of themselves by attacking the garbage can rather than the mouse.
5. They serve as means of communication
Cats don’t have much going for them when trying to communicate what they want and how they feel. Last time we checked, cats didn’t have the ability to speak English – but, they sure had the ability to employ body language as means of communicating.
Humans use eyebrows to express emotions, why wouldn’t cats? When a cat rests her whiskers, for example, she’s safe and secure. When she raises them high, she’s angry, annoyed, or getting ready to attack.
Of course, there are times when she raises them high because she’s happy and wants to play (she might start hopping around, meowing and purring, and even flailing her tail). And, when she puts the low, she’s scared of something and wants to run away.
How to care for a cat’s eyebrow whiskers?
Now that we’ve answered your “Do cats have eyebrows?” question, we can move on to the part where we make sure you know how to take care of what they do have. Whiskers don’t require that much attention from humans. And, to be completely honest, we’re more concerned with what you don’t do to them, rather than what you do.
1. Do not touch them
Whiskers aren’t regular hairs, as we mentioned beforehand. Whiskers are sensitive and they send signals to your cat’s brain the moment they sense movement. As a consequence, when you touch your cat’s whiskers, you’re sending messages to her brain.
And, when you touch them too much, you’re overwhelming her with the information she doesn’t need. She might become anxious around you and even trigger her “fight or flight” response. That doesn’t mean you can’t touch her.
That simply means you need to be cautious when you’re petting her around the areas where whiskers normally reside (the mouth, the chin, the eyebrows, and the paws). She should be fine as long as you don’t overstimulate her.
2. Do not cut them
Oh, you would be surprised how many pet parents think they’re supposed to trim their cat’s whiskers. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than messing with your cat’s safety by cutting the one thing that protects her from danger.
That’s not even everything you could damage – we haven’t even gotten to her balance, space awareness, and night vision.
Haven’t you heard of whisker fatigue? It can be defined as overstimulation of the sensory system of the whiskers. And, whisker fatigue can happen when you touch your cat’s whiskers too much, cut them or trim them, or even break them on her own.
3. Let them shed and grow back naturally
What do you do about your cat’s whiskers, then? Nothing! Cats are really great at taking care of themselves. They’re aware of when they need to groom themselves, clean themselves, and even when they need to claw at hard surfaces to prevent ingrown claws.
And, they know how to keep their whiskers clean, safe, and secure. Whiskers shed and grow back naturally without your help. While some pet parents think they need to trim the whiskers to “help them grow better and faster,” that couldn’t be further from the truth.
We allow other people to shape our eyebrows, but cats aren’t that trusting. Cats don’t even have eyebrows and they’re better at taking care of them than we are!