Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

September 16, 2019

Cats look so cute with those furry, fuzzy whiskers. But the whiskers are more than just cute. When they brush against anything, cats really feel it. That helps the cat figure out if it can squeeze through an opening without getting stuck. You never want to cut those whiskers, because it will leave the cat dizzy and confused. The 8-12 whiskers on each side of the nose also show a cat’s mood! Whiskers tilted forward mean the cat is excited and alert. Whiskers flattened back show anger or fear. And whiskers sticking straight out show that a cat is calm – and that’s probably the cutest of all.

Wee ones: If a cat has 8 cute whiskers, what numbers would you say to count them?

Little kids: If a cat has 10 whiskers on each side of its nose, how many does it have?  Bonus: What if it has 12 on each side — how many more whiskers does it have now?

Big kids: If a cat had 9 whiskers on each side of its nose, above each eye, and behind each front paw, how many whiskers would that be in total?  Bonus: If 1 cat has 80 whiskers in total, another has 36 in total, and a 3rd cat’s number is halfway between those, how many whiskers does the 3rd cat have?




Wee ones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Little kids: 20 whiskers.  Bonus: 4 more whiskers since you added 2 on each side.

Big kids: 54 whiskers (6 sets of 9).  Bonus: 58 whiskers. The difference between the first 2 cats is 80-36 = 44, so the 3rd cat’s number will be 22 less than one cat and 22 more than the other cat.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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