We’ve all seen it. Your cat is cleaning themselves and suddenly has a tuft of hair in their mouth. You run over to pull it out, but before you get there, your cat swallows it whole. So you start to wonder: why do cats eat their hair?
Cats eat their hair due to overgrooming and stress. Sometimes your cat may have a severe condition like pica if your cat eats excessive amounts of their fur. In most cases, cats eat their hair accidentally.
Cats groom with their tongues, so sometimes they eat their hair out of necessity. You may be shocked to know there’s more that goes into your cat’s hair-eating habit, so keep reading to learn more.
7 Reasons Cats Eat Their Hair
Cats eating their hair is actually fairly common. Below are some of the many reasons why your cat eats their hair, and what you can do about it.
While cats groom themselves, there’s a chance that your cat eats some of its hair. Your cat may not do it on purpose, but grooming with a tongue means they may eat some.
Your Cat Eats Their Hair Accidentally
Sometimes your cat may be most likely to eat its fur because he can’t spit it out while grooming themselves. If they can’t get it out of their mouth, the only option is to swallow it.
Pica Is Affecting Your Cat
Fur eating could be because of a cognitive disorder called pica, which causes your cat to eat things it should not, as its fur. This is more noticeable if you see your cat purposely trying to eat their hair outside of normal grooming activities.
Your Cat Has Flea Bites
Flea bites may cause your cat to bite its body and fur more than usual. If your cat is uncomfortable, they may pull more fur out than usual as a way to stop the itching.
Your Cat May Have Dry Skin
Dry skin may cause your cat to eat more of its fur as it tries to relieve its itchy, dry skin problems.
Stress Is Affecting Your Cat
A stressed cat is more likely to pull out its fur. This may not be a part of grooming but as a nervous habit.
Your Cat Is Bored
My cats sometimes pull at their house because they are bored and may excessively groom themselves. If your cat is bored, make sure to do something to entertain them.
Can Cats Eat Their Own Hair
Cats can eat their own hair, but if they eat their fur while grooming, they may cough up a hairball.
When cats groom themselves, their aim is not to eat their fur, even if you may catch your cat pulling out a knot or a chunk of fur. Unfortunately, since cats groom themselves with their tongues, it’s not possible to spit out every last piece of hair. This is especially difficult for long-haired cats.
If a cat eats their fur, they don’t merely digest it like a piece of food. Digesting too much fur will cause a cat to have a hairball. I can say from experience that hairballs aren’t fun for you or your cat!
Is It Normal For Cats To Eat Their Hair
It is normal for cats to eat their hair, especially when they are grooming themselves.
Since cats use their tongue to groom themselves, they’re used to eating at least a little bit of their fur every day. You probably only worry about your cat eating his fur when you see a big chunk of fur hanging off his lip. Otherwise, do you think twice about your cat eating its fur while licking itself? Probably not.
Some cats are also very clean. If your cat pulls chunks of fur off their body, then they may also eat it, even after they spit it out. It might seem like a strange habit, and it probably is, but cats do it anyway.
Is It Bad For Cats To Eat Hair
If your cat eats his hair while grooming, it won’t hurt your cat, but it isn’t necessarily good for your cat to ingest. Eating hair while grooming is not dangerous to your cat.
Eating fur can be a sign of underlying conditions like pica, which we will talk about further. Sometimes, though, cats eat their fur while they are bathing.
Catching your cat eating a large piece of fur may cause you to pull it out of their mouth, which is a good idea. Smaller pieces of fur aren’t too dangerous for your cat.
Is Cat Hair Dangerous If Swallowed
Cat hair poses a small choking hazard, but usually, your cat will throw up hair in the form of a hairball.
You may think that your cat eating his fur is terrible. While it isn’t the best thing your cat can eat, its body knows how to get rid of the hair. If your cat eats a large amount of its fur, then expect your cat to throw up a hairball in the next few days.
Hairballs can be scary because you’ll hear your cat heaving if the hairball is giant. You can give your over-the-counter cat products to loosen hairballs and help your cat with passing the hairball.
Why Do Cats Eat Their Hairballs
Seeing your cat eat their hairball is gross, but it’s important to remind yourself that your cat is an animal, no matter how much of a part of your family they are.
Cats do gross things sometimes. On the top of that list is probably seeing your cat eat their hairball. There’s no good reason why your cat may eat their hairball, though. I always assumed it was because your cat is an animal and may not know better than to eat their hairball (or another cat’s!).
Why Do Cats Eat Their Fur Off The Floor
Seeing a cat constantly eat its fur off the ground is a concerning habit that may indicate that your cat has pica.
In the simplest terms, pica is the urge to eat things that you shouldn’t. Pica sufferers may want to eat things other than food, like fabric, chalk, plastic, or even inedible plants. People can suffer from pica, but so can animals, like cats.
Cats may begin to eat their fur if they have pica, even if their hair has already fallen off their body and is on the floor.
If your cat huffs up his fur once or twice, then it may have been an accident or a mistaken thought of what fur can be. Eating fur once does not mean that your cat has pica.
How Do You Know If Your Cat Has Pica
You know that your cat has pica if your cat has an urge to eat fur either of its own body or off the floor after it falls out.
Unfortunately, there are few warning signs if your cat has pica. You can self-diagnose your cat by closely watching your cat’s behavior to learn if your cat is cleaning itself or if your cat is suffering from pica.
A cat with pica will often eat its fur outside of cleaning itself. You may see your cat pulling its fur out and eating it rather than spitting it out. If there is fur on the ground – either from your cat or another cat in your household – a cat with pica is likely to eat it off the floor like it’s a cat treat.
How Do You Fix Pica In Cats
It is not possible to cure pica, but there are ways to help a cat with pica.
If you notice that your cat is eating large amounts of things it shouldn’t, then there are some things you can do to help your cat, even if you can’t cure pica.
- Keep your floors clean and free of objects that your cat tries to eat
- Play with your cat to redirect its attention
- Give your cat treats to stop them eating from different things
A cat that tries to eat more dangerous objects like plants or things with chemicals may be more challenging to watch. Talk to your veterinarian for other tips on how to help your cat.
How Do I Get My Cat To Stop Eating His Fur
Seeing your cat eat his fur can be challenging, but there are a few options to stop your cat.
Suppose your cat is long-haired and eats his fur, the easiest option to keep your cat’s fur short where he can easily reach it. You may not have adopted a cat with long hair to keep its fur short, but this is the best option for your cat if he eats his fur.
Also, try to understand why your cat is eating his fur. Is his fur-eating habit because of pica? Is there a potential that he has fleas or eczema?
Since cats can’t talk, it’s more challenging to diagnose cats, but it is essential to remember that you must understand your cat’s behavior to treat him properly.
Things to Consider
Eating fur is a strange thing to watch your cat eat their fur. If your cat swallows a large knot or chunk of fur, I understand how worried you may be after seeing that. Keep in mind that eating fur is a normal part of a cat’s life, but it is also an important habit to keep an eye on.
With fur eating especially, you’ll want to keep an eye on your cat’s habit. If your cat accidentally eats fur now and then, you’ll probably know that it’s just a freak thing that happens. However, if you notice that your cat is continuously eating his or her own fur, it may be a more severe problem like pica.
None of us want to babysit our animals all the time, but it is essential to consider all the other things that go into animal ownership. You don’t have to be a helicopter cat parent, but you need to learn how your cat acts to catch potentially serious habits.