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Why Do Cats Eat Their Hair? Is It Normal?

Is your cat eating their hair? There may be a medical reason for this or they may just be grooming too much. Your cat will groom themselves with their tongue. The rough surface helps your cat get rid of loose hair.  Many times they will also ingest this hair causing them to form a hairball in their intestines.  It is best to try to decrease the amount of hair that your cat eats to help prevent them from having complications from hairballs. 

Reasons Cats Eat Their Hair 

There are many reasons that your cat may be eating their hair. These are just a few of the most common reasons. 

Regular Grooming 

Your cat will groom themself very often. Cats love to be clean and will spend hours grooming their fur. Sometimes cats will be very obsessed with cleaning themselves and maybe overgrooming causing them to eat even more hair. 

Your Cat Eats Their Hair Accidentally

Your cat does not usually want to eat their hair, many times this is by accident when they are grooming. If your cat has a hair mat that they get loose when grooming, your cat may eat this hair mat because it was stuck to their tongue, and swallowing it was the easiest way to get it unstuck. 

Pica Is Affecting Your Cat 

Pica is a medical condition where a cat will eat a non-food object. This may be paper, grass, sand, or even hair. If your cat suffers from pica they will eat many things that they should not, hair included. 

Stress 

Cats that are stressed will over-groom themselves. Grooming is a way that your cat can be calmed and relaxed. If your cat has a stressful situation or suffers from anxiety, they may over-groom and eat more hair. 

Your Cat Has Flea Bites 

If your cat has fleas, they may eat their hair. These parasites will crawl around on your cat’s skin causing irritation and aggregation to your cat. One way for your cat to get rid of these unwanted parasites is to eat them.  This will also cause your cat to eat some of their hair when they are removing these parasites. 

Your Cat May Have Dry Skin

If your cat has dry skin, they may be chewing on their skin as a way to itch their dry skin.  This would cause them to eat some of their hair and even cause them to have bald spots and sores on their skin. 

Cat Hairball

How Do I Get My Cat To Stop Eating His Fur 

If your cat is eating their fur, there are many things that you can do. First, you should try to figure out why your cat is eating their fur. This may be very easy but can also be hard to pinpoint. If you are having trouble figuring out why your cat is eating their fur, it would be best for your cat to see your vet. 


These are a few home remedies to help stop your cat from chewing their fur.

Flea and Tick medication

If you are seeing fleas and ticks, applying flea and tick prevention will help kill these unwanted parasites and help stop your cat from eating their fur. 

hairball chews

Baths

While baths are not any cat’s favorite thing, if your cat has dry flaky skin, sometimes giving them a bath with oatmeal shampoo will help. 

Anxiety Supplements

If your cat suffers from stress and anxiety, you can give them anxiety supplements. These are tasty treats that you can give to your cat each day to help keep them calm. You may even be able to change your lifestyle a bit to help decrease your cat’s stress levels. 

Regular Brushes

It is best to brush your cat often. This will help remove any dead or loose hair to help decrease the amount of hair that your cat could possibly eat.

Prevent them from getting to their hair

If your cat is pulling its hair out on their back or abdomen, sometimes preventing them from getting to these areas will help. There are cat onesies that you can put on your cat so they cannot physically reach their skin. You will still need to remove this each day and fully brush them to prevent their hair from getting matted. 

See your Vet

If all the changes you have made still have not stopped your cat from eating their hair, it may be time to see your vet. They can examine your cat to see why they are eating their hair and help develop a treatment plan so that your cat can stop eating their hair. 


Final Thoughts

If your cat is pulling their hair out and eating it, this may be due to a few reasons.  It is best to try to figure out why they are doing this and correct this behavior. These few at-home tips and tricks can be tried to stop your cat from eating their hair.  If you are having issues getting your cat to stop eating their hair, it would be best for your cat to see your vet.  Continuing to eat their hair can cause hairballs to form which can cause your cat to have many other problems. 

 


Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM
Veterinary surgeon, Linkedin

Sara Ochoa, DVM graduated from St. George’s University Veterinary School in 2015. Since then, she has been at a small and exotic animal practice in Texas. In her free time, she loves making quilts and spending time with her husband Greg and their 4 fur kids. Two dogs, Ruby a schnoodle, and Bug a Japanese Chin, one cat named OJ and a leopard tortoise named Monkey.
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