Why do cats' whiskers point backwards?

  • Mochi
  • September 17, 2023

When a cat's whiskers point backwards, it's typically a response to specific emotions or situations. The position of a cat's whiskers can provide valuable insights into its mood and intentions. Here's why a cat might have its whiskers pointing backwards:

Fear or Anxiety
One of the most common reasons for a cat's whiskers to point backwards is fear or anxiety. If a cat is startled, scared, or feeling threatened, its whiskers (along with its ears) will often pull back tightly against its face.

A cat might pull its whiskers back when it's trying to appear submissive or non-threatening, especially in the presence of a more dominant cat or other animals.

While forward-pointing whiskers can also indicate aggression, whiskers that are pulled back, especially when combined with flattened ears, can signify that a cat is in a defensive-aggressive stance and might react if provoked.

Discomfort or Pain
If a cat is feeling unwell or is in pain, its whiskers might point backwards. This is especially true if the discomfort is in the facial area, such as dental pain.

Navigation in Tight Spaces
While emotional states are a primary reason for whiskers pointing backwards, there's also a practical aspect. When navigating through tight spaces or when grooming, a cat might pull its whiskers back to prevent them from getting in the way or being damaged.

It's essential to consider the overall context when interpreting the position of a cat's whiskers. Observing other body language cues, such as the position of the ears, tail, and body, as well as the cat's vocalizations and behavior, will provide a more comprehensive understanding of its mood or intentions. If a cat consistently has its whiskers pulled back and displays signs of distress, discomfort, or illness, it's crucial to consult with a veterinarian.