General Question

jca's avatar

Why does my cat like to chew my hair and scalp?

Asked by jca (27890 points ) July 2nd, 2011

I have a cat that for many years has liked to bury her nose in my scalp (right around the part) and then chew (like rub her teeth on the hair) and sometimes take her claws and “attack” my head. If I’m sitting on the couch, or the deck, or in bed with my head low, she will come up behind my head and start rubbing her head in my hair and then do this strange behavior.

Does anybody else have a cat that does this strange thing? Do you have any idea why a cat would do this? My hair is clean – washed daily so it’s not like it’s smelly or dirty.

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9 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

It’s a social bonding behavior, called “allogrooming”. Many animals allogroom, and the head is a common target because it’s a difficult spot for animals to groom by themselves. She rubs her head against yours to mingle your scents; she wants some of that lovely conditioner smell to carry with her as a reminder of of you, and she’s leaving a hint of her lovely aroma behind in exchange. It’s the ultimate kitty compliment.

I once had a cat that went for my armpits whenever she could. It was excruciatingly painful, bt she enjoyed it so much that I’d endure it as long as I could.

marinelife's avatar

Grooming.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, a grooming thing, if a female it might be maternally induced.

My female is very affectionate in the mornings and gives lots of little love bites. The rest of the day she could care less about me. haha

My male, whom I recently lost was such a ham, he liked his feet rubbed and was always pursuing me for affection. My female will swat you if you tickle her toes. lol

They are all so different, little nuts.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Our youngest female does the same thing. She chooses to do this only to our son and his best friend a girl…both kids think it’s adorable of her to want to care for them.

athenasgriffin's avatar

My cat used to do that. She was a female, and she didn’t have any claws, so it actually felt kinda nice. Like someone was massaging my head. Now I have a male cat, and he has never done that, so I think @Coloma might be right in saying that it is a maternal behavior.

ETpro's avatar

Yep. She likes you. She’s grooming you. You should be able to teach her by your reactions that mild grooming is OK, but that you have a no claws clause.

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jca's avatar

It usually tickles and feels kind of nice. Sometimes she puts her claws on my head while she’s biting, but I just try to deal with it and let her because I figure she likes doing it or else she wouldn’t do it.

ETpro's avatar

@jca Putting up with a little innocent claw contact is a sign you love her as much as she loves. Spoony THE Cat will touch with claws slightly out; but it doesn’t really hurt. I put up with it too, becuse I know she means me no harm.

You could take it a step further and reciprocate the grooming. but even cats are offended by their humans occasional coughing up hairballs. :-)

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