Have you ever woken up to your feline friend passionately nomming on your hair? If so, you’ve probably asked yourself: Why does my cat eat my hair?! It’s a scenario that baffles many cat owners. Why, out of all things, are our furry companions so obsessed with chowing down on our locks?
Below, we unravel the mystery of this strange feline phenomenon by exploring normal cat grooming behavior, what hair-eating may mean, and what you can do to deter this annoying habit. Let’s make sense of this hairy situation together.
Cat Grooming Behavior: What’s Normal?
Before we dive into this weird obsession, it’s helpful to understand normal cat grooming behavior. Cats are meticulous self-groomers, often spending hours licking and nibbling their own fur. This instinctive behavior is essential for their overall health, helping to keep their coat clean, free of parasites, and well-maintained.
Grooming also helps distribute natural oils produced by their skin, maintaining a healthy coat and regulating body temperature. Cats often groom themselves after eating or when they wake up, and as a way to calm themselves in stressful situations. Cats also groom other cats as a form of bonding, and they’ve been known to groom their hoo-mans, too (hint, hint).
While grooming is generally a healthy behavior, excessive grooming can be a sign of stress or underlying health issues. Because of this, it’s important for cat owners to monitor their furbabies’ grooming habits for any changes that might warrant veterinary attention.
Why Do Cats Lick or Eat My Hair?
So, why does your cat lick or eat your hair? Let’s explore the various reasons why you’ve become your cat’s very own grooming project.
They’re Showing You Affection
One possible reason your cat might be obsessively licking or nibbling your hair is to display affection. In the feline world, grooming is a sign of bonding. When your kitty grooms you, it’s their way of saying, “You’re part of my family.” It means they trust you and care for you. For example, cats often groom their brothers, sisters, and close feline comrades. Simply put, they won’t groom other cats or animals they don’t trust.
They’re Trying to Play
Cats can be extremely playful, and they often view anything that moves as a potential toy. If you toss your hair around or fidget a lot in your sleep, your cat may interpret it as an invitation to play. This is especially true if you have long hair, as those long locks can be incredibly enticing, just like a feather wand or a laser pointer.
They Have a Chewing Obsession
Some cats develop a chewing obsession. This can manifest in various ways, including chewing on fabrics, cords, plastic, or even their owners’ hair. Chewing can be soothing and comforting for cats, much like how we find solace in munching on a bag of popcorn during a movie. However, too much chewing can be extremely destructive to your hair, your home, and potentially your cat. If your kitty can’t seem to curb its chewing behavior, it could be a sign of anxiety or cat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
They Could Have Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is a medical condition in which a cat’s thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. This condition can lead to a variety of unusual behaviors, including weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive chewing. If you suspect your cat may have hyperthyroidism, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.
They Might Have Pica
Pica is a condition in which animals, including cats, eat non-food items. This could be anything from plastic to carpet fiber, and yes, even hair. Pica can be caused by various factors, including dietary deficiencies, anxiety, or medical issues. If you think your cat might have pica, don’t hesitate to call your cat’s veterinarian to rule out medical issues.
Is It Safe for My Cat to Lick My Hair?
In most cases, it’s safe for your cat to lick your hair. Human hair is not toxic, and your cat is unlikely to ingest enough hair to cause health issues. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First and foremost, cats can develop hairballs if they ingest too much hair. Hairballs can be uncomfortable for your kitty and may occasionally lead to vomiting. To prevent this, make sure to groom your cat regularly, and consider using hairball control cat food. If they seem to actually be ingesting your hair, it’s important to take steps to prevent them from doing this, as too much human hair in their digestive system can cause blockages. Human hair can also be much longer than cat hair, which their internal systems aren’t designed to handle.
Moreover, if you use hair products like hair spray, gel, or mousse, be cautious. Some of these products can contain chemicals that are not safe for cats in large quantities. Most people don’t let their cats groom them for long enough to ingest enough to be dangerous, but we thought it’d be worth mentioning.
How can you tell if your kitty needs your help? Read all about the tell-tale signs that your cat is sick, hurt, or distressed.
How to Get Your Cat to Stop Eating Your Hair
If your cat’s obsession with eating your hair is becoming a bit too much to handle, don’t fret. There are several strategies you can employ to curb this behavior.
Remove Yourself from the Situation
Sorry if this seems painfully obvious, but if your cat starts munching on your hair, gently remove yourself from the situation. This can be as simple as rolling over or getting up from the bed. By doing so, you’re showing your cat that their actions lead to the end of the interaction, which can discourage the behavior. If you find your cat frequently munching on your hair as you sleep, we recommend either closing them out of your room or wearing a hair cap to bed.
Pro Tip: We know cats hate closed doors; here’s why and how to get them to come around to the idea.
Use a Deterrent
If your cat won’t stop eating your hair, you could also consider using a pet-friendly natural deterrent spray on your hair. Obviously, you’ll want something that doesn’t hurt your hair or your kitty, or smell bad. So, natural sprays are the way to go. You can easily make a homemade cat repellant spray using lemon, orange, and lavender essential oils. Cats often dislike the taste or smell of these oils, and a few applications might convince your cat to leave your hair alone. Not only that, but it’ll make your hair smell good (just not to your cat).
Provide Alternative Stimulation
If your kitty’s hair obsession is becoming too much to handle, we highly recommend offering alternatives to satisfy your cat’s need for play and chewing. These include cat-friendly plants, like cat grass, catnip, and spider plants, as well as interactive toys, like feather wands. Puzzle feeders are also a great way for your cat to appease his or her oral fixation tendencies and stay occupied and away from your hair.
Pro-tip: Distract your cat from your hair with some simple but effective cat enrichment ideas.
Consult with a Veterinarian
If it’s becoming impossible to curb your cat’s hair-eating obsession – or if you suspect underlying medical issues – we highly recommend consulting with a veterinarian. They will be able to diagnose your kitty with any medical issues like nutritional deficiencies or hyperthyroidism and prescribe needed medications. They may also be able to recommend a cat behaviorist to help deter the unwanted behavior. Remember, don’t give up on your kitty! The solution may be as simple as a diet change.
Bond With Your Kitty By Encouraging Positive Behavior
Sometimes our cats try to bond with us in their own unique way, and encouraging positive behaviors can promote this connection. Make sure to spend quality time with your cat, play with them, and offer affection. When they display good behavior, reward them with treats and affection to reinforce the positive actions.
While your cat’s fascination with your hair might be perplexing, it’s often a sign of affection or a playful gesture. It’s generally safe for your cat to indulge in this habit, but it’s important to monitor their behavior to ensure it doesn’t become excessive. If you’re concerned about your cat’s hair-eating habits or suspect an underlying medical issue, don’t hesitate to consult with your veterinarian. By understanding the reasons behind this quirky behavior and using positive reinforcement, you can build a stronger bond with your feline friend while keeping your locks intact.
Does your cat ever eat your hair? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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