Why Does My Cat Lick My Hair? – Discover 8 Reasons Why

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

why does my cat lick my hair

We love our kittens, but when they start licking our hair with their rough tongues, it’s a crazy story that ends in messy tangles and spitty strands!

You may have asked yourself: “Why does my cat lick my hair?” The reason is cat grooming is a sign of affection. Your pet licks your hair because it likes you!

I could learn to deal with it. But is it safe for my cat? And how can I make them stop? Read and find out.

Reasons Why My Cat Licks My Hair


Does my cat suddenly want to be a hairstylist? Does she think I am dirty and in need of cleaning? Is she bored?

“What does it mean when cats lick your hair?” Many people over at Reddit ask this question, curious about their feline friends.

Here are some reasons a cat licks our hair:

1. She is showing her affection.

Primarily, all cats groom those they are close to, such as their family members. It goes beyond the behavior of domestic cats and of mothers cleaning their young – felines such as adult lions in a pride perform social grooming for each other regularly, too.

People surmise that cats lick human hair simply to go after the closest thing we have to fur: the hair on our heads.

2. Licking spreads scent.

Cats don’t groom each other just to maintain their image. They have strong senses of smell, and hair licking is one way to spread their body odor.

In the wild, smell helps felines identify each other and their families. Being surrounded by familiar scents also makes cats feel safe.

So, when my pets lick my head, they’re trying to make my hair smell like them! Alternatively, I can also have my cat nuzzle my hair to achieve the same result.

3. My cat likes my shampoo.

Do you notice your cat starts licking your hair right after a shower like mine sometimes does? It’s not really because cats like wet hair. It’s more likely that they like our shampoo!

As just mentioned, cats have strong senses of smell. They may find the scent of your hair wash or other products you apply to your hair after showering appealing – or they may even think the cosmetics taste good.

4. My cat hates my shampoo or thinks I am dirty.

On the other hand, kittens may strongly dislike their owners’ shampoo scent, believing that our hair is still dirty and needs cleaning.

Maybe, my thoughtful cat is simply trying to help me reach her hygiene standards and put me through her grooming process. Cats are known to be naturally neat animals, after all.

5. You reinforced the behavior.

When your pet is close to you, be it a dog, kitten, or something else, you might automatically begin stroking them. Maybe you haven’t noticed that you do it when they lick your hair too.

Reinforced behaviors stick. This is likely why my cat chooses to lick me and not my husband – I unconsciously reward her hair grooming!

6. She is experiencing stress.

Has something changed in your cat’s environment – maybe you moved house, have ongoing renovations, or have multiple cats she feels competitive with.

People have nervous ticks like shaking their legs or biting their nails. Our felines can also have stress or anxiety ticks, which can be seen when a cat licks your hair frequently or starts obsessively grooming you.

7. She is playing.

Your cat may simply be bored and want to play. Their licking, grooming, and even chewing of your hair is an exhibit of their playful behavior.

8. She is looking for attention.

When my cat begins to knead my hair, I know she is trying to get my attention. It can be one of the reasons listed above – my cat being bored or stressed.

However, there is the possibility she is not actually in good health, especially if she chews other objects in the home or starts doing it out of the blue. In this case, consider seeking veterinary advice.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is it okay for my cat to lick my hair?

Generally speaking, it is safe, and I actually let my cat groom my hair.

That said, I make it a point to avoid letting my cat lick my face or hair when I have freshly applied creams, lotions, medicine, and oils to ensure they don’t accidentally ingest those products and other non food items.

Is it bad for a feline to eat human hair? They would need to eat quite a bit of hair to experience any kind of digestive disruption.

Still, I keep an eye on my cat and avoid letting her eat any tress if I can help it. Unfortunately, that’s tricky to do when my pet decides to lick my hair when I sleep.

Why is my cat obsessed with my hair?

As you can likely tell from the reasons above, your cat probably sees you as part of its family. Another possibility is your feline companion has health problems you need to pay attention to.

Why does my cat like licking my scalp?

In most cases, my cat simply licked my hair too deeply and ended up licking my scalp. It might be because she is attracted to the glands on my head that release natural oils the same way cats’ do.

Note that this can be more than just mildly irritating for you and me. After all, keep in mind that a feline’s tongue goes everywhere, from their private parts to who knows what else.

Plus, a cat’s saliva is full of bacteria. Frequent licking, especially on a more sensitive patch of skin such as your and my scalp, can lead to skin irritation and even eventual bald patches.

How can I make my cat stop licking my hair?

Sometimes, my cat simply licks and grooms my tresses, but other times, it goes all out and builds an entire burrow in my hair. As sweet as the gesture is, sometimes, I want to encourage my cat to show her feline feelings in other ways.

As with all relationships, discourage the behavior gently instead of with anger. After all, most cats are not doing this out of spite but love. Never speak harshly to your cat or aggressively yank him off your head. Here are some things you may want to try:

  • Change your shampoo, or spray your hair with a scent you know will repel your cat, such as citrus.
  • Give your cat new toys to distract him.
  • Don’t reinforce the hair licking behavior. Gently move your head away or get up from the couch to send your kittens the no signal.
  • Out of sight, out of mind: cover your hair in a towel or hide under your blankets while in bed in the morning to hide your hair from your cat.


Our pets have their methods of showing affection. Why does my cat lick my hair? Because it is my cat’s way of expressing her love and concern for me.

Thankfully, I don’t need to replicate the act to let my companion know I love her too. I can buy cat toys and treats and spend time cuddling and playing with my feline friends.

As long as we understand the love language of our pets, we can all be happy together.

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