Sometimes, you may experience your cat coming over and just licking your hair. It’s so strange, and you might wonder why your cats are obsessed with doing it.
You might wonder what the answer to the question of “why does my cat lick my hair” is.
Well, there’s a reason for it, and here, we’ll discuss why your cat might sometimes come over and lick your hair. It may be a bit strange, but there is a reason why your cat might lick your hair, and we’ll dive into what that is below.
It isn’t just your Hair
One element of note with cats, is they tend to not just lick the hair. Some cats are very diligent about doing it, and some of the other areas that they may groom include the following:
- The top of the head
- The edge of the hair tips
- The beard
- The brows in some cases
With cats, the length of the hair is sometimes irrelevant, but if it’s wet, they may actually like the water that’s there too.
Cats do this for a variety of reasons, and here, we’ll talk about this and why they may be doing it.
They Want to Keep you Healthy
Cats do groom a lot. In fact, we see them doing that most of the time when they’re not sleeping of course.
Grooming in cats is a way to keep this healthy, and when they groom you, it means the following:
- You may have something on your Body
- They want to clean you up
- They may be licking the water droplets off the skin
Yes, for some cats, it’s a sign of being heal/thy. They want to make sure that you’re healthy so they will take the time to groom you so that you’re kept healthy
It seems strange, yes, but remember, cats are a little different from the rest of us in actions and the way that they handle their owners.
This ties into the first point of cats naturally groom themselves for their health. Kittens groom themselves a lot when they’re young, and they’re taught by their mom to do so.
Some cats clean up more than others, and that’s because of the following:
- The mom might be a neat freak
- They may have a parent cat that made them groom more
- If the mom is slovenly, they may not do it as much
- Cats that groom each other share a social scent
Cats sometimes do this if they’re trying to figure out the scent of others, and social cats love to do this. So, if you do see a cat do this to you a lot, it might not be a sign of disdain, it’s just something they naturally do because their mommy loved to do it.
It’s a sign of Affection
This is usually the most prominent reason. Cats that like a human will groom them simply because of the fact that they just like you.
When they groom you a lot, chances are they’re communicating the following:
- Your cat has selected you to be a part of the “preferred group”
- They really like you a lot
- They do want to take care of you
If you notice your cat is doing this whenever you’re lying down or asleep, they think that’s the appropriate time to groom you.
Sometimes though, some cats think that they are doing the right thing when they groom you like that, but they don’t realize that they’re eating hair, and that feels annoying. Sometimes, they have the following accompany it when they groom:
- A rough tongue
- Cat drool
- Sometimes they pull on your hair
It can be frustrating, but it is also a sign that they love you, so don’t take too much offense to that
This is another major common reason. Territoriality is a common reason for why they groom you, and usually, if you notice your cat doing the following, then they’re trying to mark their territory
- Rubbing on you
- Trying to lick to remove the “scents”
- Getting almost a little abrasive with the licking
If you notice your cat removing other scents and debris from the skin, chances are they want you to smell like them for another reason. Again though, this ties into the fact that the cat wants you to smell like the rest of the “pack” hence why they do this.
So yes, it is to mark the territory, but you didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. They just smell other cats, dogs, or whatever, and they’re trying to get that scent off of you.
Sometimes it’s to Relieve Stress
Grooming is actually something that cats to do relieve stress. The best thing to compare this to is a human getting a massage.
That is because of the following:
- It just feels good
- It can help with getting dirt off
- They typically tend to try to cover an entire area
Usually with humans though, it can be a little bit ticklish. Cats don’t realize that it can be a bit abrasive too since their tongues feel a bit different
Some cats like to use “power grooming” and this might happen in multi-cat households. They will come up to you, and they’ll just obsessively groom you.
Yes, this is annoying, but it also ties into the territory aspects. What this communicates to other cats is the following:
- Chasing away other cats
- Showing them that this is a cat’s favorite territory
So, while you may love both of your cats, your cats may be inadvertently trying to delineate the territory that they have with the other cat. If you see a cat trying to do this to scare off another cat, know that they are just trying to mark the territory
I mean, it’s better they mark it like that than trying to pee everywhere, that’s for sure.
It’s Social Behavior
For cats, this is a super social behavior. It’s really one of the best ways that they communicate to others
Some of the reasons why they use this include the following:
- They groom you if they like you
- They want to form a friendly relationship
- Licking spreads a scent, so cats that sleep together do groom one another
- They are creating their own sort of “family perfume”
- It’s a way to identify friendliness
- It may also be they like the scent of your own hair
So if you notice your cat suddenly out of the blue licking you, it could be for that reason. they’re not trying to give you a new hairdo, but instead, they just like the way that you smell and want to communicate it.
Why The hair Though?
Why does the hair attract cats though? Well, there’s a couple of reasons for this, and they are as follows:
- We don’t have a ton of hair, so this is the obvious “furry” part of a cat
- If you have fuller eyebrows, they may target this for the same reason
- They might just like the way that it feels
Some cats like to pull on the owner’s hair, and sometimes, that means a couple of other things too, like the following:
- They are overgrooming themselves
- They are stressed out
- They are doing something similar to wool sucking
- If they have a nutrient deficiency sometimes anemia, for example, they might do this
If you start to notice your cat chewing on your hair, I do suggest trying to nip this behavior in the bud, because of the following:
- It can hurt, I mean unless you like your hair being pulled
- They are typically lacking in some nutrient, which means that they have some problem going on
- They will hack up more hairballs, usually, those that contain human hair
If you have a cat with more oriental heritage to it, chances are they will try to eat your hair a lot more. Grooming is fine, it’s when they eat your hair that it can be frustrating.
Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can stop it, and we’ll discuss what you can do to eliminate this behavior in cats so that they’re not doing it as much.
How to Stop It
So how do you stop this behavior? Well, there are a few things that you can do for your cat so that they are not bothering you as much.
- Move your head away when they start to try to groom your hair
- Put something citrus in your hair products, because that’s a repulsive smell to cats
- If you know that your cat isn’t a fan of something else, leave it near your body since it will give off that scent
- Don’t look at, talk or touch a cat when they try to do this
- Get up and leave every time they do it
- If you’re in bed, cover your head with blankets, but be careful cause they see this as hide-and-go-seek
- Move your hair from the cat’s reach
These are some personal proactive movements that you can do if your cat is just being super annoying with the hair licking. There are also other outlets that you can incorporate into your cat’s environment as well to halt this behavior.
Some of the different ways include the following:
- Give them food dispensing toys
- Give them frozen cat food smeared on a plate before you go to bed
- Give them a fuzzy stuffed toy
These can be offered to a cat, and it might be enough to deter the cat from actual grooming if that’s something that bothers you.
There is one thing that you shouldn’t do, however, and that is to push the cat away or pet him back. This is not the message you want to give.
If you do this, then it will communicate the following:
- That you like it
- If you push them away, it is seen as a game by cats
- They will continue to lick the hair
Essentially, this is behavior reinforcement, so if you don’t want to deal with your cat having the idea that hey, this is okay, then you should learn to stop the behavior in their tracks.
Reinforcement isn’t good for cats anyways, because if you do that, then it communicates the following:
- That it’s okay
- That the owner likes it
- That they should continue to do it
- If you react in a way that might be deemed playful, they’ll think that this is playtime or a game, when it’s certainly not the case
So, if you don’t want to deal with your cat being annoying and all in your face, trying to groom your hair, then be careful and don’t instigate reinforcement.
However, if you do notice that your cat is bothering you by trying to eat your hair, and they aren’t an oriental breed, I do suggest bringing them to the vet. This could be a sign of something bigger in their behavior, and if they are acting out, it also could mean a lot of trouble later on.
Cat Grooming Isn’t Always Bad!
Cat grooming isn’t always something that should be seen as a negative thing. In fact, it should communicate the following most of the time:
- It’s a huge compliment
- It’s a sign of affection
- It’s literally the kitty equivalent of petting
So, don’t be super put off by that behavior, it’s literally just what cats do. Remember, cats are kind of weird with the way that they act towards humans, and while they may not even realize just how they’re acting, sometimes it can be a little bit off-putting.
But, as an owner, don’t be offended by cat grooming.