For anyone that has ever pet parented a feline, they will be the first to tell you what odd behaviors their furry housemate may engage in. Cats live to the “purr of their own drummer” so what may seem odd to one person, may be just typical for a cat person. One habit some people’s cats may exhibit is the hair chew or bite. And not just their own fur, but the hair on their favorite human’s head as well.
Is your feline friend a hair biter? Here are some simple reasons that may be causing that odd “hair raising” action.
Soothing for the Feline
If your cat has become anxious or stressed, chewing your hair could be a way for you feline friend to feel reassured of the bond you share, which in turn will help soothe her anxiety. If this action doesn’t bother you and it’s only in moderation, you can sit back and enjoy the affection. If it persists or gets more frequent, look to any situation that may be stressing your cat out like a new addition to the family, a recent move or if you’ve recently lost another pet.
The Compulsive Chewer
Has your cat’s hair chewing habit become more intense and more frequent? Than he may have become a compulsive chewer. You will know this has happened if you can’t distract the cat with a more tempting offer, so you may have to seek the input of a veterinarian or a pet therapist. This professional can help you identify possible triggers that provokes your cat to hair chew, or if the trigger has now moved into a behavior your cat needs to fulfill. The person should also be able to provide you with ways to help channel your cat’ response in a healthier manner.
Hyperthyroidism in Cats
One of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats (over active thyroid gland) is the sudden onset of human hair chewing. This disease tends to be more common in older cats around the age of 12 and 13 years-old. If you have a senior cat that is exhibiting this behavior along with sudden weight loss and a voracious appetite, be sure to make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Pleasurable to the Cat
Not all hair biting behavior is based on a negative, sometimes a healthy cat just finds pleasure in the action. A happy kitty will get a rush of those feel-good endorphins and will want to continue to do so. Your cat may also be showering you with affection the same way they show affection for another feline with mutual grooming. If you’ve just bathed or washed your hair, your cat may simply be enjoying the smell and/or taste of your freshly groomed locks.
A Couple More Reasons
Did you just get a very young kitten? The hair chewing could be a response from being separated from its mom too early. Many cat behaviorists theorize that a kitten being taken from its mother under eight to ten weeks-old may bite, chew and lick more than a properly weaned kitten. In addition, kittens also tend to explore their new world by taste, just like puppies and children do.
Sometimes the hair biting behavior is breed specific. The Asian breeds of felines – Burmese, Tonkinese and Siamese (to name a few) – love to bite and chew fabric, paper, toys and, yes, even your hair.
The Kitty Chew-Chew
If you’ve noticed any other odd behaviors in your cat, or the hair biting has become more frequent and intense then it’s always better to make an appointment with your veterinarian to have your fur baby thoroughly checked over. Whether it turns out to be nothing or something, it’s better to know and follow up (if need be) with your vet’s advice.