Why Does My Cat Lick My Hair?

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Cats love to groom themselves. It’s a built-in habit for cats to keep themselves well groomed. You’ll often catch them licking their own legs or paws. Some cats will even sit above their owner’s head and pick through their hair and lick them clean.

It’s odd behavior that we often think is cute. To cats, this is their way of cleaning themselves and keeping cool, but it can make you question why does my cat lick my hair?

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Why Does My Cat Lick My Hair?

There could be numerous reasons why. It could be genuine love and affection toward their owner – the same thing their mother would do to them as a kitten.

Or it could even be that they are claiming their territory. We’ll explore some of the reasons why cats lick our hair and how to stop them from doing it if it’s not something you’re comfortable with. 

It’s Their Instinct

Why Does My Cat Lick My Hair?

Cats learn their grooming behavior as kittens from their mother grooming them. In fact, most of a cat’s behavior is learned, much like it is from our parents.

But not all mom cats will groom their babies. If a mom cat doesn’t groom their kittens much, chances are when the kitten is fully grown they won’t be much into grooming either.

But if a mom cat is constantly grooming her babies, they will probably grow up to groom themselves a lot and in turn, start to groom you to pass on the love!

So take it as a compliment that they’re licking your hair, they’re cleaning you!

They’re Claiming Their Territory 

Cat rubbing against owner and looking at him

We all know that cats like to claim their territory a lot. They’ll pee everywhere they can to mark their scent to let other cats know that this is their territory and to beware.

There’s a good chance that licking your hair is a way of claiming you as their territory. If your cat is licking your hair it could mean they’re trying to remove any foreign scents from you and thus they’re letting any other cats you come into contact with know that you’re theirs. 

To Relieve Stress

Why are cat’s noses wet

Many cats will groom to relieve stress, which is also why you’ll see cats grooming themselves right before they lay down for a nap.

It’s sort of like if you were getting a massage. It relaxes you so much that you could fall asleep. This grooming behavior could be extended to you as well. Licking your hair could be their way to de-stress, and will allow them to relax. 

It Keeps Them Healthy

Cats will spend about 30%-50% of their time grooming themselves. Grooming keeps their fur and skin healthy and keeps them cool on hot days.

So perhaps if your cat is licking your hair, it’s their way of trying to keep your hair in good condition and to keep you healthy. What is good for them, must be good for you too.

One cat licking another

Is Licking My Hair Bad For My Cat?

Licking your hair shouldn’t cause them any harm, as long as all that’s in your hair is natural oils.

If your cat can smell leave-in conditioner or hair products of any sort, they’ll usually steer clear of your hair anyway, they won’t go near anything that hurts their sensitive noses.

Your hair should also not be harmed by your cat’s occasional licks. 

If your cat does start getting sick, vomiting, or have diarrhea from licking your hair, then it’s probably best to try and keep your hair away from them as much as you can. 

Cats showing affection for each other

However, this can be quite a self destructive behavior. If that bad behavior extends to grooming your hair too, you might have a problem to address.

Overgrooming is usually brought on by stress, allergies or pain. So if you find your cat grooming you, your hair and themselves way more than normal, it might be worth calling your vet and letting them know what’s going on so they can give you better guidance. 

How Can I Stop My Cat From Licking My Hair?

We can appreciate that getting groomed by your cat probably isn’t as fun an experience for you as it is for them. So naturally, you’ll want to stop this behavior as fast as you can. 

If you suspect that your cat is attracted to a certain product that you’re using in your hair, you could try switching products to see if that stops your cat from licking your hair.

If it doesn’t, you could try lightly misting your hair with a citrus scented spray as cats very much dislike that smell. They’re way too strong for their sensitive sinuses. 

Grey cat with its tongue out

Also, you should make sure that you’re not accidentally encouraging your cat’s behaviors. If you’re talking and petting your cat whilst they’re licking your hair, chances are they’ll take that as encouragement from you to keep going.

If your cat starts to lick you, you should immediately pull your head away or move your cat away to stop them. 

Final Thoughts

Whilst grooming is quite a sweet gesture and most cats will do it because they love you and want to make sure you’re clean, it can be quite an annoying occurrence if it’s happening frequently.

Hopefully, you know a bit more about why cats groom and how to stop them from grooming you if you’re finding it irritating. 

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A cat licking a man's hair

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