Every cat owner is aware of how much their cats enjoy grooming. What happens, though, when your kitty starts grooming you? You don’t need to worry about “why does my cat eat my hair” any longer.
Several possible answers exist regarding why your cat eats or chews your hair. And if you don’t like this behavior or it is getting out of control, there are quite a few ways to discourage their grooming habits – especially when you’re the target. Let’s dive into some of the most feasible reasons your kitty is chewing your hair.
Why Does My Cat Try to Eat My Hair?
1. To Socialize
So, why is my cat eating my hair? Cats who live in groups tend to groom each other – a concept known as allogrooming. They will lick, bite or rub the other cats in the group to demonstrate their love and affection. Cats particularly like to lick your nose as a way of showing affection.
This licking also spreads scents. Cat families tend to all have the same smell. This smell identifies the safe and friendly felines your kitty can interact with.
The stronger your relationship is with your cat, the more likely it is to eat or chew your hair. Cats know that we are not fellow cats, but they still want to build a strong relationship with us, so they use cat behaviors to demonstrate this desire.
Fun fact: Cats don’t meow in the wild. This kitty behavior is only displayed around humans for communication purposes.
Remember that your hair is your fur, so if a cat wants to make you part of its family, it will most likely groom you for bonding.
However, our hair wasn’t designed to be groomed by a cat’s tongue. Our locks aren’t as even or as dense as a cat’s fur, and it is usually much longer. So don’t be offended if your cat tries to eat your hair and then rejects it.
2. To De-stress
Biting or eating the hair of someone it loves can calm your cat down if it is stressed or anxious. When your cat feels worried, eating your hair helps calm your cat as it shows its bond with you and claims to you.
This can be very reassuring to your pet. In some ways, self-grooming is your kitty’s way of giving itself a calming massage.
If your cat suddenly starts displaying this behavior, it may be because it has experienced a change to its routine. This could be anything from moving house to having a baby to a new pet. This is your cat’s way of confirming its connection to you and marking you as part of their group.
3. To Soothe
Eating or chewing hair in cats can often be linked to thumb-sucking in children. It can be a self-soothing behavior that your cat develops during weaning to help calm and comfort itself.
Your cat may find chewing on your hair to be soothing. Like some people find comfort in chewing on pens, your cat may find solace in a satisfying fur chew.
You should try to divert the behavior to a more suitable toy. Although there are fewer alternatives available, a purring toy or one that makes a calming sound might set them at ease.
They won’t work for all cats, but it’s worth a try if the hair-chewing and attacking is getting out of control. Try rubbing your hair on this toy to add to the aroma your cat already enjoys, especially if your shampoo has a pleasing scent to cats.
4. Because It Has to
Your cat may have developed a compulsive chewing disorder if its habit of eating hair grows stronger and occurs more frequently. If catnip, feather toys, and treats are unable to stop your cat from chewing, this is obvious.
You might need to consult the professionals and see your veterinarian if you suspect your cat may have an unhealthy obsession with your hair. If there are any health issues, they can rule them out and, if necessary, recommend you to a licensed feline behaviorist.
It may have Pica (eating disorder). Pica is an obsessive-compulsive medical disorder where a cat develops a desire to eat things that aren’t food. This will need to be handled by a vet before your kitty ingests something harmful.
5. Because It Has an Overactive Thyroid Gland
If you have an older cat that begins chewing your hair and losing considerable weight, your cat may suffer from a medical condition like hyperthyroidism. Some common symptoms include an unruly hair coat, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, drinking, and peeing more frequently than usual.
If you see these behaviors, take your cat to the vet to ensure they’re healthy. Elder cats can still exhibit chewing behaviors even when they don’t have a medical reason for it, but it’s always better to be sure.
6. Because They Enjoy It
Licking, eating, and chewing its favorite human’s hair may trigger an endorphin rush in your kitty. Or you might be surprised to learn that your cat might simply enjoy the flavor of some of the hair products you use.
In general, cats are not drawn to strong, citrus-scented products, but you may be using a hair product that has a gentler aroma that they like.
So if you’re wondering, “why do cats eat your hair straight after a shower”, your shampoo is most likely its motivation.
7. To Gain Attention
Chewing, eating, licking, or pulling your hair – plus other similar activities – can often be a sign from your cat that they would like more attention.
My cat Alexei loves to try to eat my hair when it is in a ponytail in particular – I think he loves the swing, and he knows it will get my attention.
8. To Play
Long hair is like a moving plaything for cats and has an intriguing scent. The fact that it is constantly affixed to their best pal is even better! Who could resist?
In all seriousness, you already know how much cats adore objects that dangle. Your hair, as well as string, tinsel, and tails. Hair biting and chewing can be your cat playing with you. It’s most probable that your cat merely wants to play if they frequently swat and hit your hair with their paws.
Try to get your cat to play with a suitable toy rather than your hair. This is known as redirecting the behavior, and it’s frequently much more successful than merely ordering your cat to stop.
9. To Wake You Up
So if you’re wondering, “why does my cat eat my hair when I sleep?” – you’re at the right place. If your cat comes and bites or chews your hair while you are asleep, it may be because they want you to wake up. Cats can get bored and frustrated in the early morning hours and seek some attention from their owner.
How to Stop My Cat From Eating My Hair
In small amounts, your cat eating hair is a sign of affection and probably worth letting go of. However, if you don’t like this behavior or if your pet begins to overdo these actions, you may want to put a plan in place to stop your cat from continuing with this behavior.
So after answering the question “why do cats eat hair?”, now we carry on to “how do you get your cat to stop eating or chewing your hair?”
1. Move Away From Your Cat
When your cat begins to chew or eat, move your hair away. Repeatedly doing this will help your cat to understand that this isn’t what you want – and it wants its owner to enjoy having it around.
Consistency is key – try to ensure you move away whenever your cat displays these behaviors.
However, don’t push your cat away or yell at it, as this can damage your overall relationship, particularly if your cat intends to demonstrate affection. Just move your hair away, and if your cat gets the message to leave your hair alone, pet it or give it its favorite treat to reinforce that behavior.
2. Change Your Behavior
How do you react when your cat eats hair? If you speak to your cat during this time or pet it, you may indirectly tell it that this behavior is okay. So be careful not to display any rewarding behaviors if your cat is keen to groom you. Do, however, reward your cat for not trying to keep chewing your hair.
3. Provide a Safe Area
“Why does my cat chew my hair?” They could be stressed, actually. If you think your cat is chewing or eating your hair because it is worried or stressed, find another way for it to calm these concerns.
Kneading something also calms a cat down, which means it can also start kneading you. So perhaps buy a cat bed or a self-warming blanket to knead. You might also have to do some work to lead it away from you and toward the bed once they try to chew your hair.
Petting can calm them down, but ensure you’re not accidentally rewarding their chewing behavior.
4. Distract Your Kitty
If your kitty starts to go for your hair, grab a toy – mainly a chew toy – and present it for your cat’s attention. It will soon forget about your hair when it has another way to alleviate its desire to chew and eat.
Getting a chew toy with some catnip can be more enticing to your kitty, so consider getting one or two of these specifically to keep them from chewing you.
5. Change Your Hair Products
There are quite a few smells that cats hate. If you choose hair products with scents that cats don’t like, such as lavender or citrus, your cat may be repelled from eating your hair.
6. Take Your Cat to the Vet
If you have tried several of the options above and none are working, seek some advice from your vet. This could indicate that the biting and chewing behavior is a more serious health concern, so get your feline checked out.
Common Questions About Cats Eating and Licking Human Hair
Is It Bad for Cats to Eat Human Hair?
Your cat would have to eat a considerable amount of your hair to experience health issues. However, remember if your cat is also licking you simultaneously, it could easily ingest some of the creams or products you use on your skin or hair. So be careful, particularly if you use strong medicated creams for a cold sore, eczema, etc.
⇒ Is your kitty getting the sniffles? Read more about if Cats Can Get Colds
Are Certain Cat Breeds More Likely to Eat My Hair Than Others?
Asian kitties like Siamese cats and Burmese breeds are more likely to bite hair and other non-food items like paper than other breeds. These breeds are also commonly more anxious than other calmer breeds like Maine Coons and Ragdolls, so they have a higher chance of exhibiting stress-induced chewing behaviors.
Kittens are more likely to practice this behavior as part of their exploration of the world. Kitty psychiatrists could say that a cat keen to eat or chew your hair may have been weaned too early from its mother and is trying to compensate.
You know your cat best. If your cat starts biting at your hair when you are cuddling or playing, it is most likely a sign of affection and fun. The key thing to watch out for is sudden and more extreme changes in your cat’s behavior that lack explanation. Never hesitate to check in with your vet to ensure your kitty is happy and healthy.
Hopefully, after reading this post, you won’t wonder “why my cat eats my hair” anymore. Our furry friends are unique beings, and each cat will have a different reason for eating your hair. It’s up to you to discern what is causing the issue and if it’s more harmful than playful.
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