Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your cat.

Why Does My Cat Lick My Hair?

Learn why some cats lick people’s hair.

Most cats don't lick people as much as many dogs do. But some of them are more prone to licking, and if a cat has licked you, you know they have a rough, barbed tongue.

But when your cat licks your hair, getting it stuck on those barbs, it can feel weird or even pull and hurt a little. So, what gives? Why do cats lick people's hair?

Your Hair Is Most Like Cat Fur

Cats groom each other as part of their socialization. If your cat licks your hair routinely, it could just be because she wants to show you that you're part of her "pride." Licking your hair may remind her of licking another cat's fur.

Your Cat Might Like…or Dislike…Your Hair's Scent

The products you use in your hair may make your cat feel like licking to taste them because they're appealing. Alternatively, your kitty may hate the scent of your hair products and think you need a bath.

Also, your scalp has glands that release oil and other substances, much like a cat's scent glands. So, your kitty may be drawn to licking your hair (and rubbing the scent glands in her cheeks on your head) because of those odors.

It May Be Part of a Pica Disorder

Some cats lick and eat non-food items (engage in pica) because of anxiety disorders, medical problems, stress, or because they learned it in kittenhood. You can learn more here: "Pica: Why Cats Eat Strange Things."

If your cat's hair-licking habit begins suddenly or your cat also chews on or ingests other non-food items, check with your veterinarian because that behavior can be dangerous.

Can You Stop Hair Licking?

If you don't like it when your cat licks your hair or it's causing damage to your hair or increasing your cat's hairball issues, you can work on training your cat to stop.

Every time your cat licks your hair, remove the hair from her reach. That may mean getting up and leaving the area. Don't look at or otherwise give your kitty any attention.

Also, make sure your cat has other things that are acceptable for her to lick or chew on, like stuffed animals and food-dispensing toys.

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