All cat parents know how much their felines like to groom themselves. But what happens when your kitty starts to groom you? Why does my cat eat my hair?
There are several possible answers to the question of why your cat is eating or chewing your hair. And if you don’t like this behaviour or it is getting out of control there are quite a few ways to discourage this behavior.
- Why Does My Cat Eat my Hair?
- 1. To Socialise
- 2. To De-stress
- 3. To Soothe
- 4. Because it has to
- 5. Because it has an overactive thyroid gland
- 6. Because they enjoy it
- 7. To gain Attention
- 8. To Play
- 9. To Wake You Up
- How to stop Your cat from Chewing Hair
- 1. Move away from your cat
- 2. Change your behaviour
- 3. Provide a safe area
- 4. Distract your kitty
- 5. Change your hair products
- 6. Take your Cat To the Vet
- Common Questions about Cats Eating and Licking Human Hair
Why Does My Cat Eat my Hair?
1. To Socialise
This licking also spreads scents. Cat families tend to all have the same smell. This smell identifies which cats are friendly and safe to your feline.
The stronger your relationship is with your cat, the more likely it is to look 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.
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If your cat suddenly starts licking or eating your hair do check if you have changed shampoos or other hair products as it may be that they like the scent. And do remember that your hair is your fur so if a cat wants to make you part of its family it is most likely to head there for bonding.
However, our hair wasn’t designed to be groomed by a cat’s tongue. Our fur isn’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 trys 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 feeling hassled or anxious. When your cat feels worried the act of eating your hair helps calm your cat as it is showing its bond with you and claim on 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 behaviour it may be because it has experienced a change to its routine. This could be anythign from moving house to a baby in the house to a new pet. This is your cat’s way of confirming its connection to you and marking you as part of her group.
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3. To Soothe
Eating or chewing hair in cats can often be lick thumb sucking in children. It can be a self soothing behaviour that your cat develops during weaning to help calm and comfort itself.
4. Because it has to
Cats can become compulsive chewers. The signs of compulsive chewing are that your cat chews anything and everything and that its chewing behaviour has become more intense and/or more frequent.
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Do keep an eye on this behaviour. If your cat’s behaviour in this area becomes uncontrollable it may have what is called Pica. Pica is an obsessive compulsive medical disorder where a cat develops a desire to eat things that aren’t food. Do contact your vet if this situation arises.
5. Because it has an overactive thyroid gland
If you have an older cat and it begins chewing your hair as well as losing a considerable amount of weight your cat may be suffering from Hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid gland.
If you see these behaviours do take your cat to the Vet.
6. Because they enjoy it
Licking, eating and chewing its favourite human’s hair may trigger an endorphin rush in your kitty. Or it may just like your shampoo. If your cat is keenest to indulge in you hair straight after a shower and shampoo this is most likely its motivation.
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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 some more attention. My cat Alexei loves to try to eat my hair when it is in a pony tail in particular – I think he loves the swing and he knows it will get my attention.
8. To Play
Hair biting and chewing can be your cat playing with you if it happens during the day. This is more likely to happen if you are lying down eg if you give your cat easier access to your head.
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9. To Wake You Up
If your cat comes and bites or chews your hair whilst you are asleep it may be because they want you to wake up. Cats can get quite bored and frustrated in the early hours of the morning and seek some attention from their owner.
How to stop Your cat from Chewing Hair
In small amounts, your cat chewing or eating your hair is a sign of affection and probably worth letting go. However, if you really don’t like this behaviour 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 behaviour.
So 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 your hair move away. Repeatedly displaying this behaviour will help your cat to understand that this isn’t what you want – and it wants its owner to want it around.
Consistency is key – do try to make sure that you move away every time your cat displays these behaviours.
However, don’t push your cat away or yell at it as this can be very damaging to your overall relationship particularly if your cat’s intent was to demonstrate affection.
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2. Change your behaviour
How do you react when your cat eats or chews your hair? If you speak to your cat during this time and/or pet it you may be indirectly letting it know that this behaviour is okay. So be careful not to display any reward behaviours if your cat is keen to groom you.
3. Provide a safe area
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. This could be through a cat bed that it can knead or a self warming blanket in one of its key areas. Or lots of calming petting from you.
4. Distract your kitty
If your kitty starts to go for your hair grab a toy – particularly 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.
5. Change your hair products
There are quite a few smells that cats hate. If you choose hair products to scents that cats don’t like such as lavender or citrus your cat may be repelled from eating your fur.
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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. Also, this could be a sign that the biting and chewing behaviour is a more serious health concern so do get your feline checked out.
Common Questions about Cats Eating and Licking Human Hair
Can my Cat be harmed from licking/eating my hair?
Your cat would have to eat a very large amount of your hair for it to experience health issues. However, do remember if your cat is also licking you at the same time it could easily ingest some of any creams or products that you use on your skin or hair so do be careful particularly if you using some strong for a cold sore or eczema etc.
Are certain cat breeds more likely to eat my hair than others?
Asian cats like Siamese and Burmese breads are more likely to bite hair and other non food items like paper than other breeds. Kittens are more likely to practise this behaviour as part of their exploration of the world.
And kitty pscyhiartists could say that a cat that is very 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 behaviour that lack explanation. Never hesitate to check in with your vet to make sure that your kitty is happy and healthy.
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