I’ve lost count of the number of times that my cat has woken me up in the middle of the night by attacking my hair.
If your feline friend has been treating your hair as a plaything or prey, rest assured that you are not alone.
But why is your cat attacking your hair?
Your cat’s sudden interest in your hair could be due to its need to groom you like another cat. It could also be due to your cat’s attraction to your hair scent or playful nature.
While a gentle tug might be endearing, excessive hair-attacking can signal underlying issues. Learn how to spot when playful antics might be hinting at something more concerning.
1. Your Cat Is Grooming You
Cats love grooming. They can spend up to 5 hours a day licking themselves to get rid of loose fur, dust and strange odors.
As kittens, their mothers would groom and lick them for hours to clean them, provide comfort and affection and strengthen the bond.
Grooming also helps cats to leave their scent on other cats to remember each other.
This grooming trait has been imprinted in many cats because of this.
Not only do cats love grooming themselves and their owners as well.
If you have more than one cat at home, it is common to see them engage in mutual grooming every day with other cats.
Cats do indulge in some biting when grooming another cat.
So if your cat ‘attacks’ your hair before licking and chewing, it is part and parcel of your cat’s grooming package.
If your cat’s hair biting and licking doesn’t bother you then just enjoy your grooming session.
However, some cat owners might not want a headful of cat spit after washing their hair.
Remove your cat from your hair and distract it with treats and toys.
2. Your Cat Loves Your Shampoo
Cats communicate largely on scent and have noses that are ultra-sensitive.
In fact, a cat’s nose contains 200 million odor receptors which make their noses 14x more sensitive than ours.
Cats even have a better sense of smell than most dog breeds.
If you find your cat attacking your hair and being obsessed with it, it might be the smell of your shampoo that is triggering your cat.
Maybe your shampoo smells like chicken or tuna to your cat? Then again why would you be using a shampoo that makes you smell like poultry or seafood?
There is one common ingredient in shampoo that many cats like. And that is mint or menthe.
This is because catnip is part of the mint family and if your cat goes nuts over the smell of catnip, it’s only natural that your cat will see you as a headful of string toy.
Check the ingredients of your shampoo or conditioner to see if it contains any mint.
The smell might not be obvious but don’t forget how sensitive your cat’s sense of smell is.
Change up your hair products for a while and see if that helps.
3. Your Cat Loves To Chew
If your cat attacks your hair by chewing on your hair as if its life depended on it, your cat might have a compulsive chewing disorder.
How do you know if your cat is a compulsive chewer?
When your cat not only attacks and chews on your hair but anything that it finds chewable.
It can spend hours chewing and it will be difficult to distract his attention.
Don’t be surprised to find your cat trying to bite and chew on your ears while helping itself to your hair.
This can be a problem as well if you have indoor and outdoor plants that can be toxic to cats. Most cats have a pretty good idea about which plants to stay away from.
But a cat with a compulsive chewing disorder might not have its head on straight.
Redirecting your cat’s attention with treats and other toys might work if your cat’s compulsion isn’t too serious.
But if nothing works, your cat should see a vet or a pet therapist before its compulsive chewing impacts its health and quality of life.
4. Your Cat Is Bored
Cats are curious and playful creatures and often look for activities to engage in.
This is more common in kittens and younger cats that are still full of energy and wonderment.
If you have not been giving your cat sufficient playtime or attention, it might start to turn its attention to whatever is available, like your hair.
Other symptoms of boredom include:
- Sleeping more than usual
- Excess vocalization
- Destructive behavior
- Overeating or loss of appetite
Once you start to recognize boredom in your cat, increase the amount of playtime that you currently have.
You should at the very least be spending 30 minutes with your cat on a daily basis playing or grooming it.
Younger cats will require more quality time to ensure that they are well occupied.
5. Your Cat Finds It Soothing
Have you ever kept a blanket, pillow or soft toy from your childhood days just because it feels so soothing and relaxing to hug and smell it?
Your hair might have the same effect on your cat which makes your cat treat the hair on your head like a security blanket.
Biting, chewing and licking your hair allows it to engage in some self-soothing behavior.
The thing with cats is that they can get overstimulated if they engage in such activities for too long.
It might start off with gentle chewing and licking and progress into full-blown biting and scratching.
Your cat meant no harm but it is one situation you don’t want to get into.
Cats with such hair biting issues can be due to removing them from their mother and littermates before 12 weeks old.
This can cause them to be less well socialized and form aggressive behavioral traits as they get older.
If your cat bites your hair to relax for a few minutes and then moves on to something else, then it is not a problem.
But if you notice your cat starting to get more aggressive with its actions and you can feel its claws and teeth on your head, remove your cat immediately and tell it firmly “No!”
If it happens again, make sure to distract or remove your cat before it gets too aggressive.
6. Your Cats Wants To Play
Cats are naturally playful and can spend a good part of their day engaging in play.
This is even more prevalent with kittens and certain high-energy cat breeds like the Bengal and many Asian breeds.
Cats love playing with objects that resemble prey, like your hair. The flowy movement of hair makes it hard for most cats to resist playing with it.
They will swat, bat and try to catch it like they would a prey in the wild.
The next time your cat swats your hair and runs away, it could be your cat’s way of telling you to chase it for fun.
Playtime is important for cats. Just because cats are known to be more independent pets does not mean you should totally ignore your cat.
Spend at least 30 minutes a day bonding and playing with your cat.
It is not an issue if you are ok with your cat playing with your hair.
Just be sure that your cat doesn’t start being aggressive while playing with your hair.
If that happens, get your cat toys that they can chase and stalk. Red laser pointers and toys with feathers are popular with cats.
7. Your Cat Has A Medical Condition
Some cats might start to attack or bite their owner’s hair due to a medical condition.
Your cat might be having teeth or gum disease and biting your hair helps to alleviate the pain and discomfort in your cat’s mouth.
It might also be suffering from Pica which is a condition that can cause cats to chew and eat non-edible objects.
Cats that don’t get enough activity or have a poor diet can develop Pica.
Get your cat to the vet asap for a full blood test and diagnosis.
The above underlying medical conditions if left untreated can be fatal for cats.
Should I Let My Cat Attack My Hair?
Letting your cat play with or ‘attack’ your hair can seem endearing at first but it could lead to more behavioral issues over time.
Cats learn by association and if your cat starts to associate your hair as a toy or prey, playfulness can lead to aggression.
Your cat might begin to bite and scratch at your hair which can cause injuries to your face and scalp.
The thing is that your cat doesn’t have the intention of harming you but cat teeth and claws on the skin feel a lot more painful than on fur.
If your cat is just gently biting or nibbling on your hair, that is fine.
But if its actions are causing your pain, then you need to put a stop to it immediately.
Why Does My Cat Burrow In My Hair?
Burrowing into your hair might evoke memories of kittenhood for your cat. The comforting and secure feeling of snuggling against its mother’s belly.
Your hair carries your unique scent and in the feline world, mingling scents is a profound sign of bond and trust.
This could also explain why some cats enjoy nuzzling in their owner’s armpits due to all the pheromones and odors in that area.
Are Cats Attracted To Hair?
Cats can be attracted to hair due to its texture and the movement it makes which resembles prey. Furthermore, the scent and warmth from a person’s scalp can be comforting to felines.
Why Does My Cat Pull My Hair When I Sleep?
Your cat may pull your hair while you sleep as a form of affectionate grooming or scent marking. It could be a sign of boredom, hunger or seeking your attention.
Why Does My Cat Bite My Head Hard?
Cats often give ‘love bites’ during grooming. While most cats are careful about the pressure, they might not recognize that their bites can be painful on our skin. It’s essential to curb aggressive biting to prevent potential injuries.