A cat’s sense of touch is one of its least well-developed sense – but it’s more a case of its other sense of site and small are overdeveloped rather than their sense of touch is underdeveloped. They sense their environment through their sensitive tongue, nose, whiskers and paws and a cat will often use all of these tools to inspect something unfamiliar.

Feed a cat a new food, and it will often nuzzle it with its nose, pat it with its paws then lick it to determine texture before eating it.

Cats Paws
A cat on the move will be receiving messages from receptors in its paws as to the texture of the surface. Is it slippery? Is it stable? Cats are remarkably well able to process such information. Most cats can quite easily climb a towel draped over a door… reach the top of the door which might only be 4cm wide at the top and then balance on the unstable towel on this thin surface, quickly processing how to balance, how much claw action is required to keep it stable.

It is also though cats are able to detect vibration in the ground as part of an evolved hunting technique and they will often respond to events like earthquakes before their nearby humans have detected any shaking.

Cat WhiskasCat Whiskers
Are highly sensitive and are used primary for navigation, determine how wide openings are etc. Their usefulness is not overly obvious to the casual observer as your cat will use them instinctually, but remove them and your cat will move far more cautiously and nervously. Cats run leading with their head which places them in imminent risk of harm should they collide with something so their whiskers act as a vibration radar of sorts which if taken away leaves them running with less warning of a collision?

Your cat’s fur similarly is very sensitive to touch. Gentle petting that mimics the cleaning they received from the mothers as young kittens will stimulate a feeling of pleasure and safety, whilst too rough stroking will quickly be responded to with protesting scratches.

Cats don’t have sweat glands in their skin, only in their feet so they don’t perform well in hot conditions… so it is a curiosity that they often crave the warmth that we would find uncomfortable… as long as they are motionless whilst enjoying it. A cat will often sit right beside a heater, or at the external air vent of a computer enjoying the heat, heat far too hot for our liking. Where humans start to feel heat pain on our skin at 44 degrees cats can tolerate a much higher 52 degrees.

Your cat will regulate its temperate, by allowing more or less cold air to find its way to its skin. When their skin is cold, their hairs will stand more erect and provide more insulation – the reverse when it’s hot. A cat’s nose is especially sensitive to cold – they will often bury their nose in their fur to ensure they feel completely warm.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.