How do cats make their fur stand on end?

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Offline thedoc

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How do cats make their fur stand on end?
« on: 19/03/2014 21:30:01 »
Dear Naked Scientists,

I have a series of related questions I'm hoping you will answer (some or all of) in your upcoming Q & A show...

When my long-haired ragdoll cat startles my barely domesticated short-haired kitten, the kitten's tail puffs out and the fur on her back stands up all the way down her spine. The long-haired cat, no matter how scared he gets, never noticeably extends his fur. I believe cats do this when frightened or excited, and I have been told it is to look larger. What mechanism allows them to do this? Why can't they do it with all of their fur, and why can't some cats seem to do it at all? Is this in any way related to when the hair stands up on the back of a human's neck when s/he gets scared?

We listen to your show every week and are looking forward to learning more.

Stephen Tucker
Doctoral Student, Mathematics Education and Leadership
Utah State University
Asked by Stephen Tucker

                                        Visit the webpage for the podcast in which this question is answered.
[chapter podcast=1000645 track=14.03.18/Naked_Scientists_Show_14.03.18_1002082.mp3]  ...or Listen to the Answer[/chapter] or [download as MP3]
« Last Edit: 19/03/2014 21:30:01 by _system »