Cat tongues are covered with many tiny spines called papillae. They are specially designed for grooming themselves ( among other things!). As sophisticated as built-in combs, Their tongues can shield feline fur from insects, fleas, tangles, and other debris.
What is a pet’s parent to consider when their cat suddenly begins applying their tongues to a human hair? Furthermore, what happens to you if they aren’t just licking but chewing your hair?
Amelia Wieber, CPDT-KA, CCBC, trainer for FFCP, the proprietor of Caring Behavior Animal Behavior Consulting in Frederick, Co., and a Daily the Paws’ Advisory Board member. He is not a stranger to bizarre feline behavior. She’s here to assist us in identifying the causes of why your pet’s conduct may be chewing your hair or licking it and offer suggestions on how to handle the lick.
4 Reasons Your Cat Chews or Licks Your Hair
Like humans, cats can “say” many things without speaking anything. We need someone to translate their peculiar behavior into simple English.
So if your cat has been chewing or licking your hair, Wieber says one of the following explanations could be the cause of their hairy behavior:
1. They’d like to show You Care
There may be a feeling that sharing is a concern when it comes to your hair, but for cats, hair is private! According to Wieber, cats use their tongues to groom cats they believe to be “preferred acquaintances” and are thought to be a type of bonding. The scientific term used for the behavior is known as allogrooming, which is usually centered around the neck and head of a cat. Therefore, it is normal for your cat to try to groom your neck. “So If your cat is chewing on your hair,” Wieber says, “they could be showing their affection.”
2. They’re Ready to Play
Have you observed that tassels are the most common thing you see on feline toys? Take a look over your head. Do you see that your cat may think that your cat is a natural cat toy that is always beckoning for them to play? It’s likely that when your cat views your gorgeous locks as their playground, you’ll notice similar behaviors to those they experience when playing with their store-bought cat toys, including the paws of their hands and pinning.
3. They’re looking for your attention.
If your cat seems particularly attracted to chewing or licking your hair during the night or around time for meals, it could indicate that they are simply seeking your attention. Once your pet realizes it’s working, the positive feedback loop will be reinforced, and they’ll likely repeat it.
4. They want to soothe themselves.
There could be a deeper cause for your cat’s chewing and licking. “Abnormal grooming, particularly excessive grooming, is typically an indication to stress and the onset of cat dermatitis,” Wieber notes. She suggests that if your cat’s hair is bald or appears to be licking furniture, you, or any other objects, you should seek expert help to look into any root emotional or physical issues.
Cats might not need the stress of filing taxes on time or paying their mortgage, but they’re cautious creatures that prefer predictability. Therefore, if you’ve recently relocated or added a relative (of any kind) to your home, there’s an increased likelihood that your cat’s licking behavior results from stress.
What is the meaning behind it when My cat eats my hair?
A cat who loves eating and licking human hair can sometimes swallow a hair strand accidentally. Still, cats who deliberately and regularly consume human hair from the floor or your hairbrush could suffer from an illness known as pica, Wieber says.
It is believed that the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine describes pica as “the continuous eating and chewing of foods that do not provide any physical benefit for an animal”. It lists the root health issues, nutritional deficiencies, and behavioral issues (e.g. boredness, stress, boredom) as possible causes. The condition is commonly observed in specific breeds of cats like the Burmese, Siamese, and Tonkinese, and, therefore, there could be an underlying genetic link. But every domestic cat can develop pica.
If you suspect your cat is chewing your hair, Wieber suggests you arrange a vet check-up to find the root of the problem and avoid the possibility of a blockage in their digestive tract since cats cannot consume human hair.
What To Do If the Cat Doesn’t Let You Leave His Hair All by itself
To get your cat to lick it, you’ll need to look at why they’re doing it first. “Deciphering the motive behind any unwelcome behavior is crucial for influencing behavior change”, Wieber explains. It doesn’t matter if the reason is passion, joy, or the desire to get attention; redirection is an effective instrument.
“If you find your pet biting your hair and your head as you relax on the sofa, For instance, it is possible to redirect them to a different area by placing them in the spot or by directing the cat to go there using the simple “touch” or “target signal that requires them to touch their noses to the point of your finger,” Wieber says. “You can also provide them with alternatives to doing.” She recommends getting your cat to play in playtime with playthings and Food games or applying wet cat food onto the LeckyMat for them to stay engaged and away from your head.
If the licking takes place while you’re asleep, Wieber recommends using a sleeping cap. “This keeps them out of the hair and may keep them from licking your hair,” she explains. “And to add a benefit sleeping caps are also a great method to avoid breakage and split hair! breaking!”
If, as mentioned earlier, you suspect your cat is chewing and licking your hair due to stress, or you’re worried that they’re eating hair strands, be sure to arrange a visit with your vet to avoid further damage to address any underlying medical issue.