When we look at the whiskers on a dog or a cat, we are looking at hair. A dog or cat whisker is a long, stiff piece of hair.
The whiskers on a catfish are really called barbels, and they are not hair. They are pieces of special skin shaped kind of like whiskers. The barbels are coated with cells that act like taste buds. So catfish can taste food with their barbels. Catfish can taste the food before putting it in their mouths. This makes it easier for a catfish to find food in murky water, or in the dark.