Why does my cat lick my hair? While your kitty is not interested in giving you a new hairdo, the licking habit is often a display of affection. Cats lick their kittens for grooming, which they will also do with their humans. It’s a sign that your cat loves and trusts you enough to be anointed with ‘feline perfume’. However, if your cat’s licking habit is becoming annoying, you can do something to stop it.
Why does my cat lick my hair?
Cats are mysterious beings, so they may act weird sometimes. They may start licking the hair of their owner for no apparent reason.
If your pet is exhibiting this behavior, the following could be the possible explanation:
It’s their way of showing affection
Your cat is most likely licking your hair to let you know that you are loved. This is rooted in a cat’s habit of grooming their kittens and those they consider part of their feline family. It’s like being christened as a part of the clowder.
Moreover, cats will groom those they consider their favorite. This is the reason why your house cat may lick your hair and not the others. They use their natural grooming behavior to show their affection toward their preferred human.
Cats replicate the social behavior that they saw from their mothers. It comes out naturally, even if no one teaches the cat to do so.
Your hair tastes good
Another possible reason could be the taste of your hair. This is likely the explanation if you’ve switched to a new hair product, and your cat started licking your tresses. The hair product may have an attractive scent and taste that your kitty can’t resist.
You must discourage this behavior as some hair products may cause stomach upset on cats. Also, your cat may swallow hair and gag in the process.
Getting your attention
Some cats tend to lick their owner’s hair and body because they will get attention out of it. In this case, you are the one that reinforced the behavior, although inadvertently. Over time, your cat will learn that the licking habit is accepted and somewhat reward in the form of affection.
Marking you as their own
Cats are territorial beings, so they see to it that they mark what’s theirs. Licking your hair is one of the ways your pet will mark you. The kitty will also rub its cheeks on your skin as it releases a unique scent that attaches to your body.
The licking behavior may become intense if a new cat is present. Also, stress, sudden changes in the household, and cat pregnancy may cause your cat to be overly affectionate toward you. While this may look cute, your cat is actually under stress and is feeling the need to impose its dominance. Also, it could be accompanied by spraying.
Your cat is bored
Although rare, some cats will groom their owner’s hair if they are bored. This happens when the cat has no toys or something else to do. Also, hyperactive cats may vent the energy toward their owner’s hair.
How to stop your cat from licking hair
If your cat’s licking habit is starting to be annoying, there are safe and easy ways to stop it. The following are some of the effective tips I recommend, which I also used on my kitten Watson.
- Try citrus. Cats find citrus scents repulsive, so switching to a citrus-scented shampoo might do the trick. You can also use a hair spray with a citrusy odor to repel your cat from licking your tresses.
- Don’t tolerate the behavior. The moment your cat tries to lick your hair, you should remove it gently away from your head. Doing this repeatedly will reduce the frequency of their hair licking habit. Over time, your cat will get tired of trying.
- Turn your head the other way. Another thing you can do is moving your head away whenever your cat reaches for it. Such a reaction will confuse or even startle a cat. Since cats don’t like unpredictable situations, it will likely leave your hair alone. Learn here why does my cat shake his head
- Cover up. If you’re in bed and your cat tries to groom your hair, pull the covers up. Don’t move until your cat has stopped trying. However, you must be careful with this technique as some cats may think that you’re up for some hide and seek.
- Use distractions. If the cause of hair licking is boredom, you must distract your kitty by giving it more toys. You should also schedule bonding times multiple times a day in short sessions. Through this, your cat will not find the need to lick your hair just to get your attention.
- Consult the vet. If all your efforts fail, it will help a lot to consult a veterinarian. If your cat is also excessively grooming its body aside from your hair, the vet may prescribe a mood-altering medication. Remember that excessive grooming could be due to chronic stress among cats.
Is licking hair bad for cats?
While most cases of hair licking are not harmful to cats, some may swallow hair the way a cat may ingest fur. If your cat is chewing on your hair, you should stop the behavior before it chokes on a hairball.
Also, some cats may become sick after licking your hair. When this happens, you must bring the kitty to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. The hair product you used may have a side effect on your pet.
If your cat isn’t exhibiting or doing any of this, licking your hair is a harmless habit. The only thing that could be an issue is if the habit becomes invasive. So far, cats are not known to obsess on human hair except on some rare occasions.
Why is my cat biting and pulling my hair off?
Sometimes, cats won’t just lick your hair; they may also pull it aggressively. It could be related to their tendency of over-grooming, wherein the cat chews and pulls on its own coat. This condition can lead to bald spots among cats and annoying hair-pulling on their owners. Please read here why does my cat lick me then bite me
Another possible reason for hair pulling is pica. Some cats don’t just lick and pull; they also eat the hair. This is an alarming condition as your cat will even swallow other things that may cause intestinal blockage.
But most of the time, the pulling and chewing might be a playful gesture. It’s like your cat’s version of petting and rough play.
How do you know if your cat has pica?
If your cat is starting to eat your hair than simply lick it, you should have it checked for pica. Pica is a condition on which a human or animal eats inedible things. Feline pica can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and other health complications.
While it’s normal for cats to chew items for play, it’s a different story when they start swallowing it. Some of the potential causes of pica are being weaned too early, extreme boredom, nutrient deficiencies, stress, and compulsive disorders.
Feline pica can manifest as early as three months on a cat’s life. Most cats with this condition will outgrow the habit once it reaches one to two years.
However, you must be careful since pica can lead to choking. It’s best to ask the vet for possible solutions to stop the weird behavior.
Also, if your cat is licking your hair, you must check if it’s ingesting hair in the process.
So why does my cat lick my hair? One of the common reasons is affection. Your cat shows its love to you by licking like how its mother did when your cat is still a kitten. However, if your cat pulls, chews, and swallows your hair repeatedly, you must seek a veterinarian’s help right away.
Marco Vasquez is a passionate animal lover and writer with extensive experience in the pet care industry. He has worked with various pets, including dogs, cats, birds, and fish, and deeply understand their unique needs and behaviors. Marco’s love for animals has driven him to become an expert in pet health, nutrition, and behavior, and he is always eager to share his knowledge and insights with others. As a member of the Petcosset team, Marco brings his expertise to help pet owners make informed decisions about the well-being of their little friends. He enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors with his pets in his free time.