Do cats have hair or fur?

What do cats have…hair or fur? Some cat owners would answer hair. Others would say fur. If you are a cat owner what would be your answer? Cats actually have both. Cats have fur and hair.

Hair is one of the characteristics that define mammals. Cats are mammals thus it would not be surprising if these animals are haired. Cats though are often described as furry animals. Cat owners would refer to the pet as fur balls. The luxurious fur is one of the features that make cats attractive. In fact Persian cats have become the world’s most popular cat breed because of its thick, long and soft fur. However, it cannot be denied that cats have hairs in their bodies too. Cats have whiskers on both sides of the muzzle, above the eyes, on the chin and at the back of the front paws. Whiskers are very tactile hairs. Breeds of cats are classified into long haired, short haired and hairless.

Both hair and fur have the same chemical composition. Fur and hair are made of keratin thus they cannot be distinguished. Hair and fur sprouts from the epidermis. In cats, about 130,000 hairs grow in a square inch of skin. This group of hair that is commonly called fur entirely covers the cat’s skin. Hair and fur have the same purposes as well. This skin covering enhances the cat’s appearance but its primary purpose is to provide the cat’s body insulation against heat and cold. Fur also serves as protection against injuries.

Cats were identified as furry animals. Cats are noted to have hairs as well. Actually there is not much difference between fur and hair. The differentiation lies in the usage of these words. There is no specified rule with regards to the usage of hair and fur. In humans, hair is used to refer to the stuff that grows on the head, on the arms and on other parts of the body. As far as cats and other animals are concerned, hair is used to refer to a few or to individual strands. We would never use a lint remover to get rid of the pet’s fur from our dress. What will be removed is cat hair. Fur is basically used to refer to the “thing” that covers the skin.

Cat breeds are classified into 3 hair type categories – long hair, short hair and hairless. Persian cats are the most famous long haired breeds and Siamese cats belong to the short haired breed. Shorthaired cats’ coat is usually less than two inches in length. Long haired breeds have the kind of fur that can grow up to five inches in length. Cats are great self groomers but owners of cats that belong to the long haired breeds have to make sure that the pet is regularly groomed as this kind of hair has the tendency to get matted. Regular grooming is also necessary because these cats shed excessively. The Sphynx which is an example of a hairless breed is actually not devoid of hair. These cats appear to be naked because the very short and very fine hair lies close to the skin. Cats can have single or double coats. Other breeds even have triple coats. Triple coated cats most probably originated from cats that lived in extremely cold places. The under layer or the undercoat is composed of downy and very soft fur. This will be followed by the awn hair and the guard hair.

All mammals have hairs. Cats being mammals have hairs too but this hair that thickly covers the body is called fur.

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