As a cat owner, I’m used to having cat hair on absolutely everything. But every so often in amongst the clouds of fur I find a dropped whisker lying alone on the floor, and for some reason it feels wrong to just throw it away. Turns out I’m not alone, and some people go a few steps further when it comes to storing these precious mementos of their feline friends.
Whiskers are a cat’s important tactile sensors, but like all hair they sometimes drop out to be replaced by new ones. What do cat owners do when they stumble upon one of these fallen whiskers? The obvious answer would be “throw it away”, but that’s not how everyone feels. Japanese site My Navi News conducted an internet survey of cat owners to find out what exactly they do with them.
The online survey asked people if they pick up and keep dropped cat whiskers. Out of a total of 194 respondents, 93.3% said no, and 6.7% said yes.
It seems like most people probably don’t even notice them unless it’s a particularly long and majestic whisker that stabs you right in the foot when you step on it, and even then they just throw it away or leave it to be vacuumed up later. However, there is a portion of owners who do hold on to these precious vibrissae.
The survey then asked those who answered yes to the first questions what exactly they do with the whiskers they keep, and how they store them, and there were a lot of interesting and surprising answers.
▼ Mr. Sato-nyan approves of collecting your cat’s whiskers, which means it’s definitely an acceptable thing to do.
There are a few people who keep them out of a superstition that they could bring good luck, and so like to keep them close to their person, for example in their wallet or pocket.
‘I put them in my purse. For some reason I can’t throw them away.’ (Female/23/Miyazaki)
‘I just find myself keeping them. They’re a good luck charm.’ (Female/34/Tokyo)
‘They’re really precious, so I tape each one to my computer monitor at work. I’m always so happy to find one on the floor.’ (Female/29/Osaka)
Taped to your monitor? That’s… different.
Many people also have dedicated cases for them, and as we recently reported, special cat whisker cases have become a popular trinket amongst pet owners in Japan. It may sound a little wacky, but cats can be as much a part of the family as its human members, and it’s really no different to saving your child’s teeth in a cloth bag, or keeping a lock of their hair in an album. Or so we’re told, anyway.
A few more comments from whisker-loving netizens in Japan:
‘I put them in a bottle.’ (Female/26/Tokyo)
‘I just put them in a little box.’ (Female/32/Saitama)
‘My family collects them in an empty can.’ (Male/41/Tochigi)
‘I store them safely in case decorated with sparkly gems. I get a sense of satisfaction out of looking at them.’ (Female/26/Miyagi)
‘I keep them in a special cat whisker case I bought on Amazon.’ (Female/30/Tokyo)
There were also some rather strange practices, such as taping them to the wall and naming them. Well, there’s all kinds of things that pass for modern art these days!
‘I keep them in a tissue.’ (Male/42/Miyagi)
‘I keep them and do various experiments with them. For example I put ink on the end and tried to write with it like a fountain pen. Although it didn’t work.’ (Male/32/Kochi)
‘I tape them to a pillar in my house. I’ve named each of them.’ (Male/23/Tochigi)
‘I transplant them back onto my cat’s forehead. They stick in quite easily. It’s a success if I can stick them in upright. Then I throw them away after admiring my work for 2 or 3 minutes.’ (Male/30/Aomori)
We’re hoping that last comment is just a joke – we’re sure no cat would be happy about that.
▼ Who wouldn’t want a memento of the adorable Mr. Sato-nyan?
Other people like to keep them as a reminder of their beloved pets that have passed away. Unless you count dead birds and eviscerated mice, cats don’t give gifts like people do, so the little things they leave behind like their whiskers and claws can be a nice way of remembering them when they’re gone.
‘I always keep them. I still have about five whiskers from my old cat who died, and when I look at them I can remember the fun memories of when he was alive.’ (Male/36/Tottori)
‘When I was moving I found some of my old cat’s whiskers in a drawer. It was like seeing him again and I was really happy.’ (Male/28/Akita)
So although over 90% of respondents said they didn’t keep their cat’s fallen whiskers, there are still quite a lot of owners who do keep them for sentimental reasons. Do any of our cat-owning readers do anything similar? Let us know in the comments!
▼ Would you save Mr. Sato-nyan’s silky whiskers?