Without their tactile hairs - at the proper length - cats become very disoriented and frightened. Whiskers enable cats to gauge and make sense of their environment. Cats use their whiskers in the same way that we use the touch receptors in our finger tips to feel our way around in the darkness, and to alert us to potentially painful situations.
Whiskers are embedded more deeply in the cat’s body than the shorter top-fur coat, and connected securely to the sensitive muscular and nervous systems, sending information about the surroundings directly to the cat’s sensory nerves, giving it a heightened sense of feeling and helping the cat to detect and respond to changes in its surroundings - sort of like kitty radar.
Whiskers enable cats to gauge and make sense of their environment. There is a sensory organ at the end of the whiskers called a proprioceptor, which sends tactile signals to the brain and nervous system. The proprioceptor is related to the position of the body and limbs, an important part of knowing where every part of the body is so that decisions can be made for the next immediate movement. This organ makes the cat’s whiskers very sensitive to even the smallest change in the cat’s environment. A cat’s whiskers not only help it to gauge whether it can fit into a tight space (without even being able to see it), they can even respond to vibrations in the air, such as when the cat is chasing prey. Whiskers also serve as a way for cats to visually measure distance, which is why they are able to leap so quickly and gracefully onto a narrow ledge or out of harm’s way.
Whiskers a.k.a. tactile hairs are most prominent on either side of its nose and upper facial lip. There are also shorter whiskers above each of the eyes , on their jaw line, and on the back of the front legs. Cat whiskers shed and grow back naturally, and should be left alone.