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Home > Cats > My Cat Has Eyebrow Whiskers, What Are They For? Vet Approved Facts

My Cat Has Eyebrow Whiskers, What Are They For? Vet Approved Facts

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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A cat’s eyebrow whiskers, or superciliary whiskers, are designed for a different purpose than our eyebrow hairs. While human eyebrows are all about expression and communication, a cat’s eyebrows detect movement as part of their sensory system and protect their eyes.

A cat’s whiskers are connected to special sensory cells called proprioceptors, which help the cat sense changes in the air. These cells allow cats to detect movement in their environment and navigate in the dark.

Cats will blink when they detect something coming close to their eyebrows or touching them. This is a protective action, ensuring their eyes are safe from anything that can hurt them, such as dust or larger objects.

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What Happens If You Cut a Cat’s Eyebrows?

A cat uses all of its whiskers to navigate the environment around them. This is an essential sense for them and is as integrated as sight is for us; cutting a cat’s eyebrows or whiskers will alter how the cat perceives the world, causing stress. It may also lead to them becoming stuck or hurt. They use their whiskers to determine if they can fit through or under objects, cutting the eyebrow whiskers will make this difficult for them to judge correctly.

cat lying on a brown carpet
Image By: craigc1264, Unsplash

Why Are a Cat’s Eyebrows So Long?

A cat’s eyebrows and other whiskers are long since they help the cat sense how large a gap is (particularly in the dark). They are usually a little longer than the cat’s size. In addition, they use these long hair-like sensory organs to feel vibrations in the air. That is why the proper name for whiskers is Vibrissae.

Do All Cats Have Whiskers Above Their Eyes?

Most breeds have a complete set of whiskers on their faces. However, the Sphynx cat is an exception. It lacks whiskers and eyebrows!

Most cats will have around 24 whiskers on their heads. This number is usually split into 12 whiskers on each side, with the largest concentration (and the longest) being the whiskers around your cat’s mouth.

Sphynx cat with odd colored eyes, Shpynx cat with heterochromia
Image Credit: Wildlife World, Shutterstock

How Many Eyebrow Whiskers Will My Cat Have?

The exact number of eyebrow whiskers your cat has will vary. Because each breed starts with different numbers of whiskers, it can be hard to determine a baseline amount, especially since they can become damaged and fall out. Usually, cats will have around three whiskers above each eye.

What Are Cat Eyebrow Whiskers Called?

The whiskers found above a cat’s eyes are called the superciliary whiskers. The other whiskers around a cat’s face are called:

  • The Mandibular whiskers (around the chin)
  • The Mystacial (around the muzzle)

Havanna Brown Cat
Image Credit: Yuriy Shurchkov, Shutterstock

Do Some Cat Breeds Have More Eyebrows Than Others?

Most have the same amount, but some breeds have big bushy brows that can be as long as their whiskers, such as the Maine coon, Ragdoll, and Persian.

The Devon Rex (known for its tightly curled fur) has curly whiskers that are shorter than other breeds. On the other hand, the Sphynx cat doesn’t have them at all.

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Final Thoughts

A cat’s whiskers above its eyes perform a few essential functions. Rather than being used for communication purposes as they are in humans, cats use their eyebrow whiskers as part of a more extensive sensory system. These eyebrow whiskers, combined with the other whiskers spread around the face, help them sense vibrations in the air, allow them to sense their position in space, and help them navigate in the dark.


Featured Image Credit: Katerina Varnakova, Shutterstock

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