Does every cat have the same number of whiskers?
Each of my three cats has exactly 24 snout whiskers. Ain’t that something?
In support of my cat whisker count, I’ve found a few Internet mentions of cat whiskers that claim that cats in fact have 24 whiskers. None had supporting cites, but it seems like a heckuva coincidence. This one does mention Desmond Morris, and Morris knows his stuff:
[pedant]My cat doesn’t have whiskers but she does have vibrissae. [/pedant]
They’re kinda cute, because they’re white and her face is black. Are we counting the eyebrow ones too?
I would have to say no - one of my cats has about 15 whiskers on one side. I also remember watching Discovery a few years back when they said that lions were identified by the number of whiskers. This site has some pictures halfway down of lion whiskers and says:
Older cats tend to loose whiskers; my cat just before she died only had 3-4 whiskers total left… I dunno maybe it’s the feline equivilent of balding. Perhaps 24 whiskers is the normal original number cats should have… sort of like humans should have 32 teeth. Lots of people have fewer than that, some have more - but they all started with that many; barring exceptions for wisdom teeth (of which I would have had 5 if I didn’t have them pulled out). So I have 28 teeth and Bob55’s cat has 15 whiskers even though I should naturally have 32 and the cat 24 whiskers.
In the “Cat Who…” series by Lillian Jackson Braun, she makes quite a point of the cat Koko having 26 whiskers, which supposedly makes him more intuitive than the average cat.
Hmm, I just recounted both of my cats - each has about 14-15 whiskers on each side of their face, but my problem is defining what a “whisker” is. They’ve both got lots of little sprouting hairs which may be new whiskers coming in since they lose them all the time. But as hairs longer than about an inch it’s ~15. The cats are 4 and 5 years old.
On a side note, I might be one of the few people around who actually USES my cats whiskers on a daily basis - I crush up protein crystals and use the whisker to grab some of the microscopic “seeds” and streak them into a new drop to grow more crystals. The seeds get caught in the barbs in a cat’s whisker and are easily transferred. Here’s a picture.