Feline Balance

There is a commonly held myth that a cat gets its sense of balance from its whiskers. While it can be true that to cut off a cat’s whiskers may cause it to become disoriented and off-balance, this has nothing to do the inner ear processes.

Just as in humans, the cat’s balance centers are in the ears. The chamber containing the “inner ear” is filled with a fluid which regulates balance. Ear infections and pressure changes can affect this fluid, just as changes in elevation do.

A cat’s whiskers are “feelers”. They allow a cat to feel things around them, just as how close they are to an object, and whether that object is alive or inert. This is part of what allows a cat to “see” better in the dark. Whiskers typically grow in healthy cats to the width of body. This is one way that cats can squeeze through tight spaces. Their whiskers alert them to whether or not they will fit.

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