Your cat licking your hair the first time may seem cute, but this can get annoying overtime. And so you ask: Why does my cat lick my hair? Is this normal behavior? Is it because my hair smells good, or did my cat notice that I’m having a bad hair day?
Yes, it’s true that most cats are neat freaks, and grooming is a normal part of their daily lives. So, to think that they’re doing this deed to clean you up somehow makes sense. But is it just that, or is there more to it than grooming human’s hair? Read on to find out.
Is It Normal For Cats To Lick Human Hair?
You don’t have to call your vet if your cat licks your hair. Your cat’s hair licking behavior is considered normal. Now, you’ve probably noticed your cats’ rough tongues. Again, this is normal.
Your cat’s tongue is rough since it is covered with curved, brush-like spines called papillae. Grooming plus your cat’s rough tongue serves a greater purpose – from keeping their fur and skin healthy to strengthening bonds.
Why Does My Cat Lick My Hair?
Cat grooming is something we see every day. But it's not just that. We often see cats taking part in a social bonding activity called “allogrooming.”
Allogrooming is a practice that involves multiple cats licking each other (their kittens included). Cats groom each other to build ties and establish social ranking.
So what does this have to do with you?
Well, this just proves that your cat isn't just licking your hair to groom you. Aside from grooming your hair to purr-fection, your cat might also be licking your hair for the following reasons:
To Show Affection
Your pet cat may look like it doesn’t care, but it’s capable of showing affection. And just like your dogs or other pet animals (if you have any), cats will also show that they like you by grooming your hair, head, face, and other parts of your body.
To Mark Their Territory
A mother cat licks its kitten, not only to clean it up but also to leave their scent. Like cheek rubbing, scratching, and spraying, a cat grooms other cats and leaves their scent to tell everyone that “this is mine.”
The same applies when your pet cats lick you or your family members. You can consider hair grooming as their way of saying that “you belong to them” and that “you’re part of their pride.”
You Smell Nice Or Taste Good
Yes, you read it right. One reason why cats lick human hair is because they like its scent or how it tastes. Your pet kitty might find the smell of your hair products (think shampoo) interesting, or they might also like the taste of the natural oils in your hair or skin.
It Makes Your Cat Feel Better
Now, it’s not all about you. The same gesture can imply that your cat is not feeling good, and grooming your hair, head, or face is a way for your kitty to vent their stress or frustration.
If you haven’t noticed yet, many cats are easily agitated. The presence of a new family member, a new kitten or dog, or even loud noises can stress your cat out. To cope, your cat may start grooming or scratching themselves to make themselves feel better.
To Seek Attention
When a cat starts licking your hair, it probably wants you to notice them. Like a pet dog, your kitty cat also craves attention every now and then. And you know what? Cats are good whatever your response is, whether positive (like petting) or negative (like being shooed away).
When To Call A Veterinarian?
Besides stress, licking can also be a sign of an underlying health condition. Cats groom themselves or lick other objects excessively when they’re in pain or feeling uncomfortable.
Now the question is: When can you consider licking excessive?
You would know that there’s something wrong with your cat when your cat’s licking or grooming has already affected your pet’s day-to-day life.
If your cat has bald spots or has irritated skin, consider this a sign that your cat is grooming excessively. Make sure to talk to your local veterinarian about your cat’s condition.
Should You Let Your Cat Lick Your Hair?
If you don’t mind the sandpaper-like texture of your cat’s rough tongue and getting a sticky cowlick, then letting your cat groom your hair or face once in a while is considered okay BUT not necessarily risk-free.
Hair products like dandruff shampoos contain harmful ingredients that can wreak havoc to your cats’ body when ingested. Also, your cats’ saliva may have antibacterial properties but it’s not completely bacteria-free.
Fact is, your cat’s tongue is home to various kinds of bacteria. So, if you have an open wound or if you’re immunocompromised, it would be wiser to avoid getting licked by your cat.
What To Do To Stop Your Cat’s Hair Licking Behavior
If you just can’t take the licking, don’t get mad. Doing so will only ruin the bond that you’ve already established with your cat.
Instead of punishing your cat with water, you might want to try these nifty tricks. This can help stop, if not reduce, your cat’s licking behavior.
Redirect Your Cat’s Attention
One way for your cats to leave your hair or head alone is to keep them distracted. You can offer your cat food dispensing toys or non-food items like a fuzzy stuffed toy. But, if you’re not busy, petting them also works.
Get Up & Leave
At times, all you need to do is walk away. If you’re in bed and your cat starts to lick your hair, you can cover your head with a blanket or put a pillow in between you and your cat. Hopefully, your cat will get the message that you don’t like being licked.
Use Citrus Scented Products
You might also want to make your hair less appealing to your cats. One way to do this is by using citrusy hair products since cats can’t stand citrus.
There’s no need to call your veterinarian when your cats lick your hair. Like purring and knocking things over, licking is a normal behavior.
In most cases, your cats are just telling you that they like you. So, consider this a big compliment. Now, if your cat kneads your head, consider that a bonus. That kind of body language proves that your feline friends truly adore you.
Now, it’s a different story if your kitty does this behavior excessively. If you think that your cats are going overboard, it’s time to seek veterinary advice. After all, your veterinarian knows best.
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