How many kinds of hairs do cats have? :
Most cats have four kinds: down hairs, awn hairs, guard hairs, and vibrissae. There can be up to
200 hairs per square millimeter!
The down hairs are the closest to the skin. They are the shortest, finest, softest hairs on the
cat, and their purpose is to keep the cat warm. If down hairs are viewed under a microscope, they
will reveal their crimps (or waves) that help make them such good insulators. But to our eyes, the
down hairs appear straight.
The awn hairs make up the middle coat of the cat. They partly insulate the cat and partly protect
the down hairs underneath.
The guard hairs are the protective topcoat. They are the longer and thicker than either the down
or awn hairs. They protect the underfur from the outside elements, keeping it dry. The guard hairs
are straight and evenly tapered along their length.
The vibrissae are greatly enlarged and toughened hairs that are used as organs of touch. These
specialized tactile hairs are the whiskers found on the upper lips, the cheeks, above the eyes,
and on the wrists of the forelegs.
The down hairs are the most numerous. On the average, for every 1000 down hairs,
there are about 300 awn hairs, and 20 guard hairs. But their is considerable variation among the
different cat breeds. For example, Cornish Rex cats have no guard hairs. And the size and shape
of these three types of hairs can vary by breed as well. Wirehaired cats, for instance, have
all three hair types, but all three are short and curly. But most cats have all the hair types
Source: Catlore, by Desmond Morris, Crown Publishers, Inc.,
New York, 1987, pp. 123-125.