Cats can be complex and intriguing creatures. Many cat owners have seen their feline friends engage in crazy cat antics that can make them either go “Awwwww!” or “What the heck just happened!”
One weird habit that you might have seen your cat do is attacking the hair on your head. Not only that, but your cat also enjoys engaging in human hair chewing and biting.
Sounds like a rather gross thing for your cat to be doing.
But what do cats attack hair?
There are a couple of plausible explanations for this cat biting habit.
Let’s delve a little deeper into this feline-follicle relationship.
Why Is My Cat Obsessed With My Hair?
Cats attack their owner’s hair for a variety of reasons. It can range from your cat grooming you like it would another cat. Or your cat might have some behavioral issues that are causing this reaction towards your hair. Some cats hair chewing habit can get out of control and needs to be addressed.
Here are some reasons as to why your feline friend likes attacking your hair.
Your Cat Is Grooming You And Showing You Love
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.
Human Tip: 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.
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.
Human Tip: 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.
Your Cat Loves To Chew
If your cat attacks your hair by chewing on your hair as if its life depends 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.
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.
Human Tip: 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.
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 is with cats they can get overstimulated if engaging 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.
Human Tip: 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.
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.
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.
Human Tip: Not an issue if you don’t mind 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.
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.
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.
Your cat might also be suffering from Pica which is a condition that can cause cats to chew and eat non-edible objects.
This condition can be caused by health issues like diabetes and FELV, which is feline leukaemia. Cats that don’t get enough activity or have a poor diet can also develop Pica.
Human Tip: 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.
Why Does My Cat Pull My Hair When I Sleep?
It is no fun waking up to hair that is damaged and full of your cat’s saliva. There are a few reasons as to why your cat is attacking your hair while you sleep. To some cats, it can be a form of how they show you affection, by grooming you. Your cat is trying to make sure that you are totally ‘clean’ when you wake up.
Cats also leave their scent on each other while grooming. It is your cat’s way of saying that you belong to your cat.
Another reason could be that your cat is trying to wake you up. Cats are nocturnal animals and are more active at night.
Your cat could be feeling bored or hungry and was trying to get your attention by pulling your hair.
Why Does My Cat Bite My Head Hard?
It is common for cats to bite a little when grooming each other. You can call it a cat version of giving ‘love bites’.
Most cats are mindful of hard they are biting and won’t be too aggressive with it. However, your cat might not realise that its level of light biting is too hard for your head. Our skin is not protected by a layer of thick fur like a cat’s and our scalps are rather sensitive.
Make sure to put a stop to any aggressive play biting by your cat otherwise, it won’t be long before your cat’s ‘love bites’ start to draw blood.
Some hair biting, hair chewing and grooming by your cat isn’t much of an issue. You should be happy that your cat takes pride and effort in grooming you.
What you need to be concerned about is if this behavior is caused by an existing or new medical issue. It is always better to bring your cat in for veterinary advice sooner than later.