Categories: coat

Stiffened hairs above domestic cat eyes are for triggering blink reflex

This is just a snippet of information about the domestic cat’s anatomy which I bumped into on my travels.

You know those stiff hairs above the domestic cat’s eyes which are a bit like whiskers but shorter, thinner and less stiff: they are there to protect the eyes by triggering the blink reflex. So when a domestic cat is in a fight and these hairs are moved/dislodged the cat closes his eyes.

Hairs above eyes trigger the blink reflex. Photo: Michael

There are obviously numerous instances when these hairs can be moved for whatever reason and they should under normal circumstances trigger a blink reflex in the domestic cat.

PS: Whiskers are modified hairs and where they are attached to the skin they are equipped with receptors which tell the cat how far they are bent on how quickly. Domestic cats have these different hairs also on the sides of the head and near the ankles. They work in tandem with the whiskers attached to the muzzle to enable domestic cats to judge the width of openings they can squeeze through. Muzzle whiskers also help the cat to ‘feel’ prey and assess where to bite.

In addition, information gathered from these hairs help to keep the cat up right together with the vestibular system in the inner ear which contributes to the cats amazing sense of balance.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • Yes, cats are amazing creatures. They would be the animal I'd want to be able to tell me all about the natural world, in the ways they are better adapted.

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