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  • Betty Girardeau

To Be The Cat's Whiskers


Most of you know that I have had a life-long love of cats. Except for three of my four years in college, I have always had a least one cat in my life. Currently I have two fur babies, Sully (my whisker photo model above) and Boo. They provide me daily with company, love, and laughs, especially Sully. In recent months with little association with other humans, I have been thankful to have other living beings with whom I can easily converse because I have heard it is not a "good thing" to talk to yourself too much. While I am aware that there are many who don't like cats, and some who have valid reasons, I believe that others could grow to tolerate, even love having cats in their life if they understood and appreciated them. Take for example appreciating their wonderful long whiskers. You may not know that if someone calls you the "cat's whiskers," that it is a compliment of the highest order. It means that they think you are unique and extraordinary. However, if you think or say you are the "cat's whiskers" about yourself, it means that you consider yourself better than anyone else and are the center of the universe. How different can these two definitions be!? No wonder some people have difficulty understanding cats. Either way, though, a cat's whiskers are pretty special, and they aren't just on their face. They have them on their legs, too. Earlier this year in an article about them Jane Kelly referred to cat's whiskers as "the Swiss Army knife of your cat’s sensory and communications tool kit" because they not only tell them where they are going and if the space is wide enough to get through, they also help to navigate climbing and to position their prey. The many muscles on a cat's face allows him to position his whiskers in relation to his mood too. They can easily be moved forward if the kitty is curious or on the hunt or flattened back toward his face if he is nervous or upset. Whiskers are so sensitive that they can detect even the slightest change in a breeze. Pulling on them is extremely painful for the cat (and could become painful for you because he will likely become pretty defensive and claw you). And, please, please, don't ever cut or trim the whiskers. If you do he will become disoriented and act dizzy because he is no longer getting those all-important navigation signals. In effect, you have blinded him. So my friends who also have cats, I wish that all your kitties will know how much you love them and show you by keeping their whiskers straight out from the sides of their heads. And I think each of you is the "cat's whiskers."

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