Why do cats lick your hair?

When your cat licks your hair, she is allogrooming you. From her perspective your hair is unnaturally long. It makes the allogrooming process almost impossible which is why she struggles. However, she is licking you as another cat with normal-length hair.

It’s just unfortunate that the hair on your head is much longer than the hair on the bodies of domestic cats. That doesn’t apply in every case, obviously, but it certainly would apply to nearly every woman. And in this video, you see a cat allogrooming her female human caregiver in a committed way.

Domestic cat allogroomings their female human caregiver which is tricky because the hair is long
Domestic cat allogroomings their female human caregiver which is tricky because the hair is long. Screenshot.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats


You probably know what allogrooming is, because this strange word has been discussed a lot on the Internet. The Internet has improved cat caregiving worldwide because it has been a fantastic platform for acquiring knowledge about domestic cats.

And you have probably seen domestic cats licking each other. It’s an act of friendship which is exactly what it looks like. It is often reciprocated. Some people think that it is an act of dominance. When one cat licks another and the other accepts it, it is a model of dominance with the cat doing the licking dominating the cat receiving it. I don’t fully subscribe to this. To me it looks like an act of friendship and it is. You know what they say: ‘if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck’.

On occasion, the allogrooming of a cat of their human caregiver might be an act of mothering in which the cat regards the human as one of her kittens. This can happen sometimes in the human-to-cat relationship. Normally it is the human who is the surrogate mother of the adult cat. The roles can sometimes be flipped, in my view, such as when a domestic cat brings home a prey animal. Cats can get confused in the human environment.

Note: This is a video from another website which is embedded here. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it. ?

Most often domestic cats lick your hand or arm where there is much less hair. I actually prefer to offer up my hand if my cat wants to lick me because it makes it more acceptable to him. Often when cats lick themselves, which is called ‘autogrooming’, they then turn and lick their caregiver for a short while.

When cats autogroom, part of the process is to be altruistic and lick their companion which is you. They just get into the mood of grooming themselves and you at the same time.

Here is another video of the same behavior. This time a baby. The cat probably relates to the child as a kitten:

Once again, this video will probably stop working in due course. They nearly always do. Sorry if that has happened ?.

The trouble with very long hair from a cat’s perspective is that it sticks in the mouth. The tongue doesn’t go through it properly. You see them shaking their head afterwards as if to try and remove it from their mouth. It all looks pretty uncomfortable and unnatural and it is probably slightly confusing for a domestic cat to be confronted with hair which is unnaturally long.

The response, as you see in the video, is to totally accept it. If you don’t accept it, you are turning away a gift from your cat, an act of friendship and a bonding experience delivered by your cat to you. I see a duty in the human caregiver to accept it willingly and thankfully in order to reciprocate the kindness of your cat companion and to reinforce the bond.

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