If you have cats, or have had cats, you’re probably familiar with their behaviors. They typically don’t like big groups, unlike dogs. But that doesn’t make them loners. And they often get a bad rap as being nasty. Again, compared to dogs. However I have yet to meet an unfriendly feline. Also cats do some pretty amazing things. And some pretty strange things. For instance, have you ever asked, why is my cat eating my hair? Well, today I explore some possible reasons, while also suggesting ways to discourage this behavior.
We added a new cat to our household around the end of May. Yet at the time I didn’t know she was going to end up being ours. A neighbor found her in the road and brought her to us. And I even included her in one of my cute animal posts. Since raising this kitten, I’ve learned so much more about cats. Some I already knew about, but others I’m just sort of learning at each stage. For example, my newest feline nibbles my hair when I sleep.
Certainly a hair-eating cat was something I had not witnessed before. I have two other cats, one that is much older, so she moves around a lot less. And the other one is ~ 2 years old. Otherwise Cake and Meow Meow act pretty alike. But no hair eating habits between them.
Reasons Why My Cat is Eating My Hair
The first possible explanation that your kitty is chewing on your hair is due to stress. Especially if it just started, (it’s new), or the frequency has increased. Cats, like people, will try different methods to calm themselves down. And eating or chewing on your hair could be a coping strategy.
- Oral fixations
Another possibility is that your cat is self-soothing, not unlike thumb sucking in infants. It’s believed that cats that were weaned early start this behavior. If it’s an oral fixation, then it begins as self-soothing until it becomes a habit.
This is especially true for kittens, who make playtime out of anything. And long hair is no exception. But your cat may also just want your attention.
If your feline friend licks or chews your hair when you get out of the shower, then they might like your shampoo. Or whatever else you put on your hair. Like mousse or gel.
- Medical condition
Additionally there are some medical conditions, like pica or thyroid issues, that could make cats eat or chew on human hair.
In most cases your cat will simply be grooming you, because he or she considers you special. They’re marking you in one more way to let others know you belong to them. In the wild cats groom each other; typically this is a close family group. So when your cat eats your hair, it’s a sign of affection.
How to Discourage Your Cat from Eating Your Hair
- First, determine why your kitten is eating your hair.
Is stress the culprit? Did you recently move? Or possibly get a new pet? There are tons of reasons a cat could get stressed. Even though they’re considered predators, they’re small, and they know it. And they know there are threats out in the world to them. This is a great article to find out more about stress in cats if you’re not sure.
If you do find that stress is the factor, then depending on what’s causing the stress, will determine how you deal with it. So if you recently got a new animal, introduce them to each other slowly. Petsmart usually has great info on that. But if you moved recently, then make sure you have some toys from your old place. They need their familiar smells around them.
- Now suppose your cat is attracted to the types of products you put in your hair, then switch to something citrus-y.
It’s believed that cats don’t like citrus, so you might try something with orange or lemon scent.
- For self soothing, grooming, and play, you would pretty much do the same thing: either move away or redirect.
The only thing you can do in any of those 3 situations is move away from your kitty or re-direct or distract her. Self soothing is going to become a habit, so it needs to be stopped. And unless you want your cat playing or grooming your hair, you need to keep moving away from or getting a toy for your cat, until they get the idea. Which they will.
Another option, for if your cat is grooming your hair, (especially if it’s at night), is wearing a cap to sleep. I know, this doesn’t sound like a great idea! However it will save your hair while also allowing you to sleep. And in the long run, your kitten will learn he can’t get to your hair through the hair cap. Which means, he’ll eventually leave your hair alone. At least at night.
- If, on the other hand, your cat eats your hair off the floor, this could indicate pica. Which is where cats eat non-food items. And it’s very dangerous. So if that’s what’s going on, or you’re not sure, then get an appointment with a veterinarian.
Most of the time cats will eat or chew hair out of affection. But there are definitely times they will get stressed, which could also trigger a hair eating episode. All that being said, I know my newest cat did it out of that pack mentality. She sleeps on my pillow. And after she grooms herself, she proceeds to eat my hair. AKA grooming.
Initially I thought she just wanted to play with my ponytail, because every time I wore it to bed, she would start chewing on it. Or my hair. However a few weeks ago, when I pulled the ponytail out in the morning, some hair fell out. I started combing my hair, and 2 inch chunks of hair came out. (Thankfully I don’t have any bald spots.) And then I thought she just wanted my hair down, like a hairdresser. But now I’m really honored that she loves me so much to groom me. Although what is proper cat etiquette? Does she expect me to return the favor?
To sum up, there are a few reasons your cat would eat or chew on your hair. But the most common reason is he or she considers you one of them. (A cat.) So he/she is grooming you. Though if you’re not sure, you could always take your kitty to the vet for a check-up.
Thanks so much for stopping by! And please don’t hesitate to ask a question or leave a comment!