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Lexi - Chapter 8

By Mark Crocker

My whiskers

If you donít know who I am my name is ďshe who must be obeyedĒ or if you are human I am called rather laughingly ďLexi MayĒ or just ďLexiĒ. But if you are human and reading this just call me by my real name which is ďshe who must be obeyedĒ.

Last time I mentioned my whiskers and how important they are to me. And not only me but every chosen one.

Whiskers are just as important as my eyes ears and nose.

You humans talk about having five senses, sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. Well we chosen ones have six. We have sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing and proximity.

Letís look closely at some of my senses.

My sight is important to me as it helps me in my day to life. But itís not like yours which is a general kind of sight.

You see everything yet you see nothing.

Let me explain in a little more detail as the comment that ďyou see everything yet you see nothingĒ sound very condescending.

You humans see the trees, the sky, and the transport on the hard black surface. You see the birds, the hills and mountains. But you donít see the bird sitting in the tree or the mouse hiding under the bush near the tree.

Chosen ones eye sight is much like yours other than the color is muted. The reason for this is it helps us with movement.

Let us both look at the tree outside.

You see a tree moving in the wind. I see a tree moving in the wind too. But I also see the bird sitting on the branch. Not only do I see the bird with a red chest sitting on the branch but I also see the bird breathing. Plus I see the other bird sitting behind the first bird and I see the gray mouse sitting in the pile of leafs that the tree has dropped.

However if the tree stops moving or the birds and mouse stop their breathing then I just see the tree moving in the wind as the birds and mouse become part of the tree.

Now letís look at the same tree at night.

You might see a tree shape thing that is dark. If the moon is up and the stars are bright you might see a tree and branches? But you donít see the birds or the mouse.

But I see a tree with branches and a chosen one climbing the tree to catch the bird thatís sleeping on one of the branches. Whatís more I see the other bird sitting in a nest higher up. I also see the colors of the chosen one and the colors of the birds.

Ok so the colors are not as sharp as they are when its day light and the colors are much more muted for me at night but I still see the colors.

Now letís get things even darker like it would be inside with the window coverings closed and the lights off and at the darkest part of night.

For you it would be just shapes. Shapes of the long sitting thing, shapes of the place you keep books, shapes of low things you put drinks on. Shapes of things you sit at. Just shapes and nothing more. No colors to the shapes. Not even shades of gray just black shapes.

Now what I see is the place to put your drinks, the long sitting thing, the place you humans sit to eat and I see them with colors, mostly shades of grays.

Now letís go to where there is no light at all. Not even the light of night.

Letís make it so dark that itís totally black and you canít see your paw in front of your face. So dark that you see nothing, not even your paw waving back and forth in front of your face. I just want to get the point across that itís totally utterly and completely dark.

Now can I see things in those conditions? The answer is no I canít. Using just my eyes I am as blind as you are in those dark conditions. But I can still get around with out bumping into things.

If I was to lose my eye sight I would not be totally useless. I would still be able to get around almost most as well as if I had eye sight.

The reason is simple.

My whiskers.

Iíve heard the misguided comment you humans make about us chosen ones and our whiskers. ďThey are used to measure the size of a hole so we donít get stuck, they are use to help us balanceĒ. All true. But we use our whiskers for so much more than just measuring holes and balance.

Our whiskers help our other senses to such a high level that we could lose one of our senses and our whiskers would step in to help the other senses compensate for the missing sense.

I can see this is going to be more than just my normal five pages. So let me take a few senses at a time and explain how my whiskers help those senses.

So we are working on eye sight.

So letís go and sit under the tree I mentioned on a bright sunny day.

So now we are sitting under the tree and itís so bright that it hurts your eyes.

You can put on dark glasses that make it less bright. But we chosen ones canít do that. So nature has given us a way of dealing with a very bright sunny day.

Our pupils become mere slits to cut down on the amount of light that comes into our eyes. Also we know to find a nice shady spot and to sit back and relax in that shady spot until either we have to move or the light is not as bright.

So here we are sitting under the tree.

Ok while we are sitting here lets look around.

For me itís very bright. Almost to the point of things have a white glare to them.

To deal with that issue I simple close my eyes and act like I am sleeping.

Now here is where my whiskers come into play.

As I have stated you humans think we use our whiskers just for balance and making sure we can get in and out of places that are tight fits.

Well you are so wrong. Our whiskers are used for far more than just balance and getting in and out of tight places.

The thing is that our whiskers are very sensitive to things.

Now back to sitting under the tree.

So here we sit me with my eyes closed and acting like I am asleep so that my eyes donít hurt.

As we sit here the wind starts to blow as a nice 2 mile an hour breeze from the north northeast.

Now how do I know this?

My whiskers tell me thatís how I know.

We are sitting on the sunny side of the tree which means we are sitting on the south side of the tree.

I can tell you that the wind is coming from behind us and off to our left side which means its coming from the north northeast. Whatís more I can tell you how hard the wind is blowing, which is 2 mph as I just said.

The reason I can do this and you will have to trust me. Is that my whiskers vibrate.

Now having just told you a big secret about whiskers I am going to give even more away as I explain what I can do with my whiskers.

Now letís say we napped under the tree for so long that itís now dark. In fact very dark, so dark in fact that you human can barely see.

All you can see is the dark shapes of the bushes and rocks.

But I can see so much better than you can at night.

My eyes are the end result of millennium of evolution where seeing in the dark enabled us to hunt better at night when it was safer for us to do so.

So the night darkness is not as dark to us chosen ones as it is to you.

But what do I see? Thatís what you want to know isnít it?

Well I see lots of things and at night I see as well as you would see at sunset.

Think about the sun having just set but there is still enough light for you to see things but the colors are muted for you.

Bright red is a pale pink, the green of tree leafs is a pale green or pale yellow. You see colors fade for me when it gets darker. But that does not mean that they fade away to black, white or gray for me. No they just get even more muted for me.

However as I stated a while back when things get very dark like a cloudy dark night with no moon or stars then things do turn black, white and shade of gray.

Ok so letís leave the tree and walk back to my place that my human looks after and where I live.

As we walk back I see the ground as shades of gray and white while you may just see it as a light gray path with shapes that are black on either side of the path.

OH LOOK a mouse.

Sorry got distracted.

Now once back to my humanís place of living I have a small issue.

Because my eyes are in night mode the bright lights of my humanís place of live are very bright. So bright in fact that the hurt my eyes while they adjust back to day light mode.

Now letís go back to the tree and walk back with no form of lighting at all. Lets make is so dark that I canít see my paw in front of my face.

Ok we both have a problem. A huge problem in fact. We both canít see anything. Itís just totally dark. Total darkness.

Only I have my whiskers.

Now read carefully as you are about to lean something about why whiskers are so important to us chosen ones.

As I mentioned our whiskers vibrate when the wind blows. They also vibrate with air currents when we walk.

So grab onto my tail and follow me as we head back to my humans place of living.

Now as I walk in totally darkness I can feel the change in air currents as we move. My whiskers gently vibrate as I get close to things. I donít even have to touch the bushes or rocks to know they are there. My whiskers tell me that they are there.

Ok so how does it work?

I wish I could say ďOh itís simpleĒ but its not. But I am going to try and explain how it works?

What you might think as four sets of whiskers is not in the case. Yes I know I have a set of whiskers on either side of my nose and a set above each eye.

But look closely and you will see that in fact on just my left side of my face I have what we call lesser whiskers. Which are the very short whiskers at the front. Then I have what we call minor whiskers which are between the lesser whiskers and the greater whiskers. Then there are the upper whiskers above each eye.

Each set of whiskers play a very important role.

Letís start with the lesser whiskers.

These are used for high winds and up close. The reason they are shorter than the other is because. If they were longer they would get in the way. Plus it takes more wind to make them vibrate.

Also the lesser whiskers are used for things up close that I canít see when they are right under my nose. I mean can you see under your nose? I canít. But with the lesser whiskers I can tell what is there and how close it is.

If something touches my lesser whiskers I got a rough idea of what its shape is. This is because the pressure that is applied presses less in some spot and more in others. And over the years I have lean that certain shapes applies different pressure. For example a round thing applies a different pressure than a square thing or a toy mouse applies a different pressure to a scrunched up bit of paper.

Knowing what pressure is what shape helps me a lot.

Now add in the fact that my lesser whiskers are right next to my nose I can use them to help my sense of smell. But we will get into that at another time.

Letís move on to my minor whiskers.

My minor whiskers are longer than my lesser whiskers but shorter than my greater whiskers.

These minor whiskers are very useful when it comes to hunting and playing. Also they help me to judge speed as they vibrate when I walk at a certain rate. The slower I walk or move the less they vibrate or the faster I walk or run the faster they vibrate.

But the minor whiskers have a more important role to play that just judging speed.

Because they vibrate I can also judge height.

You see the minor whiskers donít just vibrate back and forth. They also vibrate up and down. The higher up I am the less they vibrate. Unless its windy and then I have a little of a hard time judging how high up I am.

While we are on the topic of wind and my whiskers I can tell as I have mentioned the speed of wind.

For me wind speed is important as it helps make up my mind on whether I want to go outside.

To me there are a few important wind speeds that I use to help me to make my mind up on whether to go outside or not.

There is the ďoh no windĒ, there is the pleasant gentle breeze, there is the strong breeze, there is ďits windyĒ and then there is ďHell noĒ.

Have you ever seen one of us chosen ones standing in the door way like we canít make up our mind on whether to go outside or not? Well thatís the reason why. We are trying to see how windy it is. Well thatís one of the reasons anyway for there are many reasons that we will stand in the door way half in and half out.

Ok back to my minor whiskers.

Minor whiskers also work closely with lesser whiskers to aid me when things are right under my nose.

The length of both sets of whiskers helps me to work out how close something really is.

Let's say I have one of my squeaky toy mice that I am playing with and I pull it in closer to give it a good sniff as its been dipped in my favorite kind of catnip.

By using both my lesser whiskers and my minor whiskers I can bring the mouse as close at I want without having to look down my nose and go cross-eyed.

Now about my great whiskers.

These are by far the most important of all my whiskers on my nose.

They work with my lesser and minor whiskers much as I have just mentioned but and this is a very important but. But they do far more than just help with things close up or with telling me how windy it is outside.

My great whiskers like my minor whiskers vibrate but they are so sensitive that I can feel the air current of your words when you talk.

With my great whiskers I can feel the slightest air movement of objects near by. Currents of air that you canít feel I can feel with my greater whiskers.

So letís go back to total darkness and me moving around as if I can see.

Remember itís so dark that I canít see my paw in front of my face.

Now as I walk I generate an air current that moves away from me in all directions. As that air current moves out in front of me it hits objects much like sound waves do for a bat. And much like a batís hearing my whiskers pick up the returning air current that bounces off the objects around me.

By how much movement and how quickly the air current returns I can tell how far or how close an object is. But unlike bats hearing it does not tell me what the shape is. Just that itís close or far away.

The above statement makes my whiskers sound more like hearing which is not the case. My great whiskers just tell me that something is close not what it is.

To be able to tell what an object is I would have to have the ability to transmit a high level sound pitch which I canít. However if the object is a living breathing being I can tell what it is by using my hearing to listen to its heartbeat and its rate of breathing.

Think of it this way.

It is as I said totally dark. As you get near to something you feel a vibration on your face that tells you that you are near something. The stronger the vibration the closer you are, the weaker the vibration the further away you are.

While that sounds simple its not and its hard to put into words what really is going on.

Now my upper whiskers which are above my eyes.

The upper whiskers have many of the some functions as my lesser, minor and great whiskers do but they are only facing forward and just barely come above the top of my head.

But just coming above the top of my head is useful as they help me detect anything coming up behind me or above me.

The thing to remember is that my whiskers help my eyes and ears.

The best way to explain my whiskers is that the give me 270 degrees of extra protection around me. But as you might have noticed there is one area where my whiskers donít help and thatís behind me. My upper whiskers do help a little but behind is a blind spot.

So when you come up behind us chosen ones either make a lot of noise so we turn around and can see you or donít come up behind us as we tend to be a little jumpy about that and you donít want us un-sheaving our razor sharp claws on you.

Ok now onto my whiskers and hearing.

Better yet letís make that another chapter.

Oh if you wish to ask me questions my email is lexithecatsworld@gmail.com


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