Have you ever been minding your own business watching television or reading your book to find your cat sitting near your head and chewing away at your hair? Apparently cats tugging and gnawing away at their owner’s hair isn’t a rare behavior and a lot of cat owners have reported this strange behavior from their feline friends. We get that our cats are thoroughly invested in grooming themselves but what inspires them to turn into beauticians and practice their skills on us? Does our hair smell bad? Or is our shampoo a yummy scent to them?
Studies suggest that there could be a number of reasons for your cat’s attraction to your hair. Some theories suggest that this is not something to be worried about and can easily be chalked up to positive behavior. However, other studies suggest there may be underlying causes of concern that owners should be able to pick up on. Overall, it can be a number of factors from social to physical or emotional health-related. We’ve tried to elaborate on all the possible reasons below.
As a socializing behavior
If you are a cat owner to more than a cat you probably noticed them grooming each other. This mutual grooming is also known as “allogrooming” and the cats usually rub, lick or gently bite each other. This is a form of interaction and a way to show their love and affection towards each other. So by extension when your cat is chewing your hair, this is their way of socializing with you and showing that it considers you as a friend and is showing you affection.
Soothing for your cat
Have you ever come across your cat kneading or pumping at your blanket or your clothes and sucking them as well? This is an oral behavior that is a result of your cat being weaned off too soon when they were a kitten. As a result, they’ve developed this oral behavior. Chewing on their owner’s hair is a similar oral behavior and is self-soothing for them.
To calm down stress
Sometimes, just like humans, your cat feels stressed or anxious and often resorts to familiar objects to seek comfort. Your hair smells like you and your cat relies on you for a sense of familiarity and so chewing on it makes her feel calm and reassured that you are here for her.
Cats do love attention. If you’re busy watching television or are too engrossed in your book, your cat might feel neglected and thus might start chewing on your hair as a way to grab your attention.
Some cats enjoy chewing on different objects whether it’s a toy or a random object that they got their hands on and that even extends to your hair. However, this might not be all positive and should be nipped in the bud when you first notice it to prevent it from becoming a problem later on.
However, sometimes this act of chewing hair isn’t all positive behavior. There might be some underlying health risks that might be associated with cats chewing their owner’s hair.
A possible health problem associated with eating human hair might be an overactive thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism is usually linked to older cats and the symptoms include your cat having an increased appetite and also a sudden decrease in weight. If you notice these symptoms, make sure to show your cat to the vet.
This is basically a scientific way of describing an eating disorder in your feline. Your cat will continue to eat items that have no nutritional value for example plastic, rubber, paper, and other non-edible items.
Sometimes severe medical problems such as feline leukemia, diabetes, or brain tumor can result in your cat persistently chewing on your hair.
Cats sometimes like to eat edible items lying around the house if they are lacking proper nutrition and sometimes they eat grass if they’re having a tummy ache. Chewing hair as a result of dietary deficiencies is the possibility that you will have to discuss with your vet to figure out.
Other possible reasons for your cat chewing on your hair can include:
Since your feline friend doesn’t have hands that allow them to discover the feel of various objects; they do so with their mouths. So chewing your hair might just be their curiosity peaking as to what it might feel like.
There are certain breeds of cats such as the Siamese that enjoy chewing on things such as shoelaces, cords and wires, and paper. So that might explain this strange behavior.
For most of the part, your cat chewing on your hair isn’t a matter of concern. However, you know your cat well and if you think that your cat chewing your hair is erratic behavior and isn’t normal, don’t delay showing them to a vet and getting them checked up for any underlying issues. Similarly, if you notice that the hair your cat is chewing is showing up frequently in their stool or that their stomach is upset more often than before, then it might be an issue that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.
How do I get my cat to stop eating my hair?
If your cat is constantly chewing on your chair and it’s started to get on your nerves then there are a few ways you can discourage this behavior.
- Remove excessive hair that might be lying around. We don’t mean go get a haircut, but cats also tend to pick up hair from the floor as well. So try to vacuum or sweep your floors more frequently.
- Give your cats something else to chew on. There are a lot of toys available in pet shops that you can choose from. And if your cat really likes chewing on your hair, try to find a toy with a similar texture to human hair.
- Change your hair products. If you feel that none of the other options seem to be working in distracting your cat from chewing on your hair, opt for hair products with scents your cat doesn’t like such as citrus.
- Try to understand what is causing your cat to chew on your hair. If you feel that your cat is stressed or anxious try to figure out what is causing their distress. Have there been any changes around your house that might be affecting them?
- Discourage them right from the start. When your cat first starts chewing on your hair it might seem funny or cute and so you might end up encouraging them with positive reinforcement. However, consider the possibility that it might get tiresome so move them away every time they make an attempt. Be vocal with your disapproval and speak to them in a stern tone so they understand that you don’t approve. However, make sure to show them love and affection otherwise.
You know your cat the best and understand their behavior better than anyone. So with all this information in front of you, you are the best judge as to whether your cat is acting out or acting normally!