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Why Does My Cat Attack My Hair?

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At this point, it’s a classic cat behavior. You think you’re just snuggling but then your feline friend decides to attack your hair!

What’s going on here and why do cats attack hair?

While the reasons will vary between cats, most cats attack your hair simply because it’s a fun way to play (at least for them). In other cases, cats may like the smell of your hair or they’re trying to groom your hair as a sign of affection and love. 

That’s the quick answer but there is more to uncover. Luckily, most of the explanations aren’t a cause of concern, and playing with hair is just something that cats like to do.

We’re going to take a closer look at each of the 5 possible reasons and talk about what you can do to stop your cat from turning your hair into a playground.

Let’s get started!

1. Your Hair Might Smell Good

Your cat supports your great taste in shampoo! But your cat might not understand that biting, pawing, and attacking your hair isn’t the greatest way to express that support.

While smell alone is probably not the sole driver for your cat’s behavior it can certainly help. Compared to the rest of your cat’s environment, your hair probably smells very interesting and your feline is always looking for something new to check out!

What You Can Do: If your cat seems a little too interested in sniffing your hair it might be time to try another shampoo. But keep in mind, smell alone is not likely to be the only reason your cat likes to attack your hair to keep reading before you throw out your hair products!

2. Your Cat Wants To Play

Cats can show their desire to play in different ways. Some will bring toys to their owners, while others will focus on their hair.

Not only does your hair smell interesting, but long hair is also like a mobile play toy for cats. Even better is that it’s always attached to his best friend! What cat could resist!?

But in all seriousness, you already know that cats LOVE anything that dangles. String, tinsel, tails, and well….your hair! Honestly, your hair is also probably the safest thing on that list for cats to play with.

If your cat primarily swats and bats your hair with her paws it’s most likely that your cat just wants to play.

What You Can Do: Try to encourage your cat to play with a more appropriate toy instead of your hair. In behavior terms, this is called redirecting the behavior and it’s often much more effective than simply telling your cat to stop.

After all, even if you tell them to stop, they’re still going to want to play!

One of my favorite toys is a toy called Da Bird. Da Bird mimics a flying bird and I’ve never seen a cat not play with it. You can get the latest price from Amazon by clicking here. 

Alternatively, you can use a toy that doesn’t require as much effort from you. My favorite (well, my cat’s favorite) are these little mouse toys that make chirps when they’re knocked around. They also have a little catnip in them which doesn’t seem to do much for my cat Debbie but your cat might go crazy for it. You can get them from Amazon by clicking here.

If your cat likes to attack your hair while you’re getting ready then the little mice toys are great since you can usually just throw them for your cat and get back to getting ready.

3. It’s Soothing and Enjoyable

Your cat might just find it comforting to chew your hair. Just like some humans get comfort from chewing a pen, your cat might just enjoy a good hair chew. Both habits aren’t exactly sanitary but who am I to judge?

While it might feel like your cat is attacking your hair, that might just be the easiest way for your cat to reach your elusive locks!

I know some cats (including a foster cat I had for a couple of weeks) really wanted to chew my hair after a shower. It certainly felt like an attack as she scaled couches and chairs to reach my hair!

What You Can Do: Again, you’ll want to try and redirect the behavior to a more appropriate toy. While you have a lot fewer options to choose from I really like the special cat pillows from PetStages. These are big soft toys and this one in particular (Amazon link) makes a gentle purring noise to soothe your cat.

These won’t work for every cat but if the hair attacking and chewing is getting out of hand it’s worth a shot. While it feels a little weird, you can also try rubbing your hair on this toy to the scent your cat already likes on the toy.

If someone walks in on you vigorously rubbing a purple cat toy on your head you can send them to me.

I’ll explain the situation.

4. Your Cat Is Grooming You and Showing Love

If your cat spends a lot of time licking and chewing your hair after the initial “attack” then your cat might be just trying to show you some affection!

It’s not actually that unusual for your cat to give you love bites which are little kitty kisses…but more painful.

Simply put, your cat will often show affection to other cats with little nibbles but cats have much tougher skin than you so your cat probably doesn’t understand that these love bites kinda hurt.

Biting is also a normal part of grooming. If you watch closely, you’ll see that most cats will bite occasionally while grooming. Grooming is also something that your cat will do to other cats to show love.

I wrote an entire post on the subject of why cats lick then bite and if you’re interested in learning more you can click here to read it. 

What You Can Do: If it doesn’t bother you too much, you could consider just letting your cat do it now and again. After all, it could be their way of saying they love you!

But if it’s happening pretty frequently or you just don’t like the idea of having a cat’s mouth on your hair then it’s best to try to redirect the behavior with a toy. I

5. Your Cat Has A Compulsion

If your cat simply can’t be distracted from anything once he gets focused on attacking your hair you may have a slightly bigger problem on your hands. While quite rare, some cats can develop a compulsive behavior that makes them obsessed with your hair.

Again, this is the least likely, and make sure you try to redirect or distract your cat from attacking your hair before jumping to this conclusion.

What You Can Do: If you’re starting to think that your cat has an unhealthy obsession with your hair you might need to bring in the experts and visit your veterinarian. They can rule out any health concerns and point you in the right direction of a certified feline behaviorist if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hair biting, attacking, and chewing is one of the weirder things are our cats do and leads to a lot of questions. I hope the five reasons above explain why your cat wants to attack your hair but if you still have questions, I’ve got answers!

Q: Why does my cat bite and pull my hair?

Most often your cat is just having fun and doesn’t mean to hurt you. In other cases, your cat is actually grooming you or trying to give you some love bites. Both are signs that your cat cares for you but unfortunately, they do hurt a bit!

Q: Why does my cat try to eat my hair?

While it might feel like your cat is attacking you and trying to actually eat your hair, they’re probably just trying to have some fun. Many cats find hair fascinating and if it’s long it does move around like a cat toy. Alternatively, your cat might just be trying to show you love by grooming you!

Q: Why does my cat bite my hair when I’m sleeping?

There are a lot of reasons why your cat might bite your hair in the middle of the night. From grooming and playing to just seeking comfort but one major reason might be that your cat knows it will wake you up. Cats get bored just like us and waking you up could be some good entertainment!

Q: Is it OK to let your cat lick your hair?

It’s okay to let your cat lick your hair in most cases. Ingesting your hair in small amounts shouldn’t cause any problems for your cats. However, be mindful of the hair care products you use if you’re letting your cat regularly lick your hair.

Q: How do I get my cat to stop eating my hair?

You have several options depending on why your cat is eating your hair but the best option is to redirect the behavior somewhere else. For example, try to get your cat to play with a toy instead of focusing their attention on your hair.

Q: Why does my cat sniff my scalp?

Your cat is interested in you and your scalp smells interesting to them! Cat’s are always fascinated by the human world around them and especially anything to do with you. Between your hair, shampoo and just being out in the world there’s a good chance your scalp smells very exciting to your cat!

What Do You Think? 

Which reason do you think is leading your cat to attack your hair? Does he just want to play or is he trying to clean you up and share some love bites?

Let us know in the comments below!