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Why Does My Cat Chew on My Hair? Is Hair Safe for My Cat to Eat?

All of my cats appear to have bizarre habits and quirks. One of essentially the most weird quirks I’ve skilled to this date is when one in all my cats select to chunk, chew or lick my hair.

I first skilled a cat chewing on my hair when our household cat, Walker, would sleep by my head. I’d typically get up to Walker fortunately grazing on my hair as he purred, ready for me to get up. Was it as a result of my hair smelled good? Was he hungry?

The behavior of chewing appears to hold on to my mom as she’s now the first caregiver for Walker. I nonetheless get textual content messages from her stating issues like, “your son [Walker] keeps chewing on my hair! Can you tell him to stop!” and whereas I’ve defined the methods she may get Walker to cease chewing on her hair, she hasn’t… although I believe it’s as a result of she finds it to be a cute behavior.

At first, I assumed that my cats would solely chew on my hair whereas I used to be sleeping as a option to wake me up, however that doesn’t appear to be the case in any respect.

Beau, for instance, will steadily stand behind my accomplice and I whereas we sit the sofa and can nibble away at our hair. Though Beau has been caught chewing and licking our hair, he by no means truly rips or ingests any of it. So why does he do it in any respect?

The fact is that, like many different cat behaviours, chewing on an proprietor’s hair can have a number of meanings for a cat. One of the explanations a cat might select to chew on their proprietor’s hair is as a means of displaying affection, though chewing on hair will also be an indication of underlying well being issues. 

So, let’s cowl the entire causes your cat could also be nibbling away at your scalp, how one can inform why they’re chewing your hair and tips on how to forestall it. 

I LOVE YOU

The commonest purpose cats chew or lick their human counterpart’s hair is as a result of they’re attempting to be affectionate.

In the previous, we’ve lined a few of the varied methods cats present affection to their people, reminiscent of kneading, headbutting, biting, then licking your fingers and rubbing themselves in opposition to your legs, so you may merely add chewing hair onto that checklist!

As you will have already observed, when cats aren’t spending their time sleeping and being lazy, they spend an excellent chunk of their time grooming themselves and others round them. It doesn’t appear to matter whether or not you’re a cat, canine or human; cats are obsessive about cleanliness and have to make it possible for everybody of their household is clear.

If you’re taking a more in-depth have a look at your cat whereas they groom themselves, chances are you’ll discover that sometimes they are going to start chewing on the fur they’re cleansing. What is definitely taking place is your cat is utilizing their enamel to assist detangle and take away further particles that they may not attain in any other case.

As a aspect observe, cats can also use their enamel to wash their paws and even nails, so don’t be shocked in case you see this.

Now, cats should still attempt to groom or clear you even in case you’ve simply taken a bathe as cats don’t acknowledge fragrances from soaps or shampoos as clear scents. Cats, nevertheless, do acknowledge scents, they usually know their very own is clear, which leads me to the subsequent level.

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Photo from Why Does My Cat Meow After Eating? Understanding Cat Yowls

YOUR CAT IS TRYING TO SCENT YOU OR MAKE YOU SMELL LIKE THEM

Although thought of a much less frequent methodology of scenting, generally cats will chew on their proprietor’s hair as a means of creating the proprietor odor like them.

A cat can scent you by chewing in your hair as cats have scent glands on the perimeters of their mouths, much like why a cat would rub the aspect of their mouth in opposition to you.

Cats who’re attempting to scent you by chewing in your hair will typically rub themselves in opposition to you shortly after or might even meow a number of occasions to get your consideration. If you discover your cat needs an excessive amount of consideration, they could even be attempting to get you that they want one thing, which we are going to speak extra about later.

I’M HUNGRY/WANT YOUR ATTENTION

Sometimes cats develop a few of the most annoying methods to let you already know that they need consideration or that they’re hungry. Not shockingly, starvation is the principle purpose Walker chews on our hair.

Cats might select to chew in your hair for consideration or starvation, as this methodology is taken into account to be mild and can most of the time get a response out of you.

You mustn’t situation your cat into understanding that chewing in your hair will get them the issues that they need. There are significantly better strategies your cat can let you already know that they’re hungry, however extra importantly, it’s your accountability to grasp how a lot and the way typically your cat must eat.

I strongly suggest setting a feeding schedule to your cat, so they start understanding that there’s a routine to the day and can by no means be left too hungry or fearful that they won’t be fed. 

Scheduling Beau’s feedings and playtime actually helped cut back his stress and made his chewing decline to hardly ever inside a number of months. 

It is important to grasp that cats will repeat behaviours or techniques after they obtain the eye or reward they had been asking for. Still, I’ll cowl extra strategies of discouraging behaviour additional under.

YOUR CAT WANTS TO SUCKLE

You is probably not conscious of your cat’s life earlier than they had been adopted, particularly in case you adopted your cat from a shelter or rescue.

Out of the seven cats in our household, we solely know the place Walker got here from since we met him, his siblings and his mom earlier than welcoming him into the household.

Chances are if you’re unaware of your cat’s beginnings or the place they arrive from, you aren’t occupied with your cat’s mom or whether or not or not your cat was separated/weaned from their mom too early. The purpose I convey up a cat’s mom is that kittens who’re separated from their mom early have been recognized to exhibit odd behaviours reminiscent of suckling on wool, fabric and even plastic.

Often suckling behaviour is attributed to a situation known as Pica, which might additionally stem from being faraway from a mom too early. Although extreme chewing and suckling will be related to a cat who was separated from their mom too quickly, it will also be an indication of a cat who has a nutrient deficiency or an underlying well being situation. 

Cats who chew on hair as a result of they’ve the craving or have to suckle must be given various chew toys and must be taken to the vet for some blood work, particularly in the event that they attempt to swallow the hair. It’s important to be on high of your cat’s well being, particularly as a result of nutrient deficiencies can flood into different features of your cat’s life.

Note that the will to suckle isn’t at all times a foul signal or a symptom of underlying well being circumstances. 

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Photo from Why Your Cat Keeps Knocking Things Over/Off Tables & How to Make Them Stop

STRESS

It’s comparatively simple to emphasize out a cat, and we frequently stress out our cats with out even understanding.

Stresses can embody however usually are not restricted to different animals within the space or residence, loud noises, not sufficient hiding spots, tensions between relations, modifications in routine, or change in meals.

Cats will typically overgroom themselves or others when they’re feeling wired. You can relate a cat overgrooming to a human scratching their head, itching their pores and skin or tapping a floor due to nervousness. 

Cats who overgroom themselves due to stress will typically lick their pores and skin uncooked leading to hair loss and even whisker loss. You should attempt to to get right down to the basis of your cat’s stress earlier than it will get to the purpose the place your cat licks themselves uncooked as not solely is it uncomfortable for the cat, however it will possibly additionally result in sickness as much like people a cat’s pores and skin is a protecting defend from sickness.

In most circumstances the place stress is minimal and brought on by an element that was lately carried out, a vet go to isn’t required; nevertheless, stress will be an ongoing complication that your cat naturally struggles with on account of their persona or previous trauma. 

It is significant that you just log your cat’s each day actions as cats are creatures of behavior who generally reply instantly to their environment and issues that hassle them. A log of each day actions is not going to solely assist you determine what’s stressing your cat however may also be very useful if/once you converse to a vet concerning the behaviours your cat is exhibiting.

If, your cat is careworn and the stress doesn’t appear to be brought on by a 3rd get together set off, your vet might suggest a change in food plan, a product called Feliway, or might even recommend attempting out some calming music for your cat.

Methods will range in success based mostly on the persona of the cat and the agreed reason for the stress; nevertheless, as stress isn’t a cookie-cutter downside, your vet would require you to place in an inexpensive quantity of effort monitoring your cat to assist get to the basis of the issue.

If your vet can’t get to the basis of the issue, they could refer you to a feline behaviouralist or one other vet who has had extra expertise with resolving cat stress.

HYPERTHYROIDISM

As talked about earlier than, generally when a cat tries to chew on hair, it’s a signal that your cat has an underlying well being downside. One of essentially the most well-known well being issues related to a cat chewing/biting on hair is hyperthyroidism. 

Hyperthyroidism is commonest in cats over the age of 12 and is usually signified by a cat frequently needing to eat, whereas nonetheless constantly shedding pounds. 

It is greatest to seek the advice of your vet in case you suspect your cat is experiencing hyperthyroidism, particularly as a result of conditioning this sickness generally requires a change in food plan and life-style.

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Photo from Do Cats Dream? What Do Cats Dream About?

HOW DO I DISCOURAGE MY CAT FROM CHEWING OR LICKING MY HAIR?

Dependant on why your cat chews in your hair, discouraging the behaviour could also be so simple as encouraging a distinct behaviour that you just respect extra.

Cats are conscious once we are sad with them and can typically do something to make it possible for their proprietor is completely happy. So, in case your cat reveals a behaviour, you don’t like, be certain that to disregard them and solely reply after they have come again with a tactic you do respect.

For instance, Kalista likes to chunk our legs, and I completely hate it, so I both ignore her each time she does it, which regularly results in Kalista rubbing herself in opposition to me as a substitute. You can even use coaching phrases or appears like “uh-uh” whereas inserting your finger in your cat’s view to assist reinforce that this isn’t desired behaviour.

The most necessary factor is that you just stay constant it doesn’t matter what methodology of coaching you select to make use of. Any indicators that you just settle for your cat chewing, licking or biting in your hair will trigger your cat to “relapse” or proceed exhibiting this behaviour. 

Give your cat a toy instantly after they chew, lick or chunk in your hair to assist your cat perceive that toys are a option to get out the impulse to chew.

CONCLUSION

Your cat is inevitably going to finish up consuming or swallowing some hair infrequently, merely as a result of means {that a} cat’s tongue works.

The dangerous information is that cats usually are not capable of totally digest hair, whether or not it’s their very own or a human’s. Eating or swallowing hair typically results in hairballs or in one of the best case situation, results in their poops. 

Eating human hair isn’t thought of harmful in the direction of cats; nevertheless, it ought to nonetheless be prevented if doable.

At the top of the day, if you’re involved about your cat’s wellbeing or suppose that your cat is chewing or biting in your hair due to an underlying well being situation, I strongly suggest taking your cat to the vet to make it possible for all the things is alright with them.

Often longterm sicknesses go undetected as a result of cats don’t tell us that one thing is bothering them and can typically snowball till you may’t do a lot to assist.

So pet dad and mom, I’m curious, what’s the explanation your cat has chewed in your hair? Did you ever get them to cease? Let me know within the feedback under!

Beth Sanders

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