Why Does My Cat Lick My Hair

Cats are avid groomers. They’ll be chasing invincible entities around the house one minute, then leaning against the wall licking their fur the next. As a cat parent, you’re probably used to seeing this.

However, despite their reputation as creatures of habit, they appear to have a number of surprises up their sleeves. Your cat, particularly, likes to lick you, especially your hair. Why, though?

Why Does My Cat Lick My Hair? 5 Adorable Reasons

1.  He likes you

Living with so many cats has taught me that each has a distinct personality, including how they express affection to hoomans. Purring, kneading, and headbutting are some examples. 

Another common example is licking our hair or even other parts of our bodies. Similar to how cats allogroom to bond, your cat licking your hair could be his way of telling you that you’re his favorite hooman.

But don’t celebrate yet!

Ruud van den Bos (PhD) discovered that cats also allogroom to reinforce social hierarchies. To be more specific, he reported that higher-ranking cats groomed lower-ranking cats more frequently than vice versa.

This brings me to my next point… 

2.  He’s marking you with his scent

I’m sorry to break it to you, but you could be the lower-ranking being. And your mighty cat believes that everything in his territory, including you, must smell like him.

“In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” – Terry Pratchett

I couldn’t agree more!

However, that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. I mean, you probably know by now that you don’t own your cat. I myself feel more like a cat servant than a cat owner. 😹

3.  He thinks your ‘fur’ is dirty

Your cat may also lick your hair if he thinks it’s dirty. Think about the last time you washed your hair. Was it a long time ago?

If that isn’t the case, recall whether you’ve recently tried a new hair product. You may not notice the difference, but your cat, who has spent his entire life immersed in the world of smell, does.

And he might misinterpret the exquisite scent of your hair for a foul odor. That’s why he cleans you up. What a sweet kitty!

4.  He’s curious

This is pretty straightforward. Cats are so naturally curious. Though Shakespeare said that “care will kill a cat”, it’s actually an instinct that puts them on high alert, aiding in their survival. 

Curiosity will kick in when your cat notices any sudden movement, such as dangling objects — and your hair, especially if it’s long, fits the bill.

So your cat may sniff and lick your hair to see if it poses a serious threat. If it is, for some reason, that’s when the claws come out. You may be wondering…  “Why on earth would my hair be a threat to my cat?!”

My guess is that your cat perceives it to be the fur of another species, which isn’t entirely incorrect. Remember those hilarious videos of cats attacking brooms? Yup, it’s the same situation.

That being said, there’s a reason cats are dubbed as “furry therapists,” which brings me to my last but not least point.

5.  He senses that you’re sick or sad 

Moriah Galvan (MSc) and Jennifer Vonk (PhD) found that cats can read our facial expressions and learn to do so over time. So, apparently, they pay more attention to us than we give them credit for.

I mentioned earlier that cats licking their hoomans’ hair is a sign of affection. Based on this research, it stands to reason that your cat may very well lick your hair to make you feel better.

This is actually something I’ve experienced firsthand.

I remember being so stressed that tears streamed down my cheeks as I sat with my chin resting on my knees. My only cat at the time suddenly approached me and licked my face.

And cats have been my most favorite companion ever since!

Now, to sum up, let’s recap the 5 adorable reasons why your cat licks your hair.

  1. He likes you. Licking you is one of his ways to show that you’re his favorite hooman.
  2. He’s marking you with his scent. He wants other cats to know that you’re his and his only.
  3. He thinks your ‘fur’ is dirty. Either you have a new enticing scent on your hair, or it stinks so bad that your cat can’t stand it!
  4. He’s curious about your hair, for some reason. 
  5. He senses that you’re sick or sad. Science says that your cat can pick up on how you’re feeling. So he probably licks your hair to comfort you. 

It shouldn’t be a big deal if your cat likes to lick your hair. However, if you notice anything out of the ordinary, such as him overdoing it, please take him to the vet just to be on the safe side.

So that’s all there is to it. I hope you were able to find the answer you were looking for!

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