CattyCorner: Why Do Cats Eat Fur Off The Floor, Couch, Or Wherever They Find It?

Written by: Kelli Brinegar
For more than five years, Kelli Brinegar has been using her ability to write and her passion for research to tell the tale of what cats are thinking and why. She has provided care to more than 30 cats in her lifetime.Read more
| Published on June 26, 2023

Greetings, my pawsome human minions.

It’s Forrest Wisewiskers again, and I’m here with more insight into the enigmatic world of the feline. Ready to learn more about your furry overlords? Let’s go…

As you well know, cats are fastidious groomers who delight in keeping their fur just so. And all this licking of the fur means some gets swallowed. You’ve seen the proof hacked up on the floor as wet logs of hair that, to the eye, first appear as a rodent or some other furry being that shouldn’t be in the house.

But as the diligent minion you are, you’ve probably also witnessed your cat scarfing down a tuft of hair they’ve found lying around. And my mom, the cute, caring soul, worries about my tuft eating. In fact, today’s question came because after she raked the fur off the couch, I snitched the collected wad and ate it. Mother watched with disbelieving eyes and cried, “Forrest, why do you eat your fur?”

It’s Mine & I’ll Eat It If I Want!

In my case, I ate the fur in her hand because it’s mine, and proper grooming dictates I must get rid of the evidence. By scarfing it down, my area is tidy, and predators can’t find me. Two birds with one claw, so to speak.

I know what you’re thinking…Forrest, you’re an inside cat, and there’s no one trying to get you. Okay, you’re right, but I am a creature of instinct, and those natural inclinations tell me to protect myself. But let us not dismiss that eating that raked fur was also fun!

Why Do Cats Eat Their Fur Outside of Grooming?

Cleaning Up After Grooming

Cats spend a significant amount of time licking fur to keep it clean. When we groom ourselves or other cats, loose fur can come off and end up on the floor. If your cat eats that wad off the floor, they might just be cleaning up the fur as an extension of their natural grooming behavior.

Boredom or Playfulness

I’ll admit it; cats do weird things when they’re bored. Eating fur off the floor might be a way for your cat to entertain themselves or explore the environment. If you suspect your cat is eating hair out of boredom, be sure they’re getting enough playtime and mental stimulation.

RELATED: CattyCorner: From Flehmen To Splooting, 9 Strange Things Cats Do

Nutritional Deficiencies or Digestive Issues

Occasionally, cats may eat non-food items, including fur, due to nutritional deficiencies or digestive problems. If your cat is not getting a balanced diet or has an underlying health issue affecting their digestion, they could try to compensate by consuming unusual substances, a condition called pica.

Pica is a term used to describe a medical problem in which individuals, including cats and other animals, have a persistent and compulsive craving to eat non-food substances. These substances can include items such as dirt, paper, cloth, hair, fur, plastic, or other materials that aren’t typically considered edible. If your cat is eating excess amounts of hair or other odd items, schedule a checkup with your veterinarian for your kitty.

Stress or Anxiety

When cats worry, we may engage in abnormal behaviors when feeling stressed or anxious. Excessive grooming or chewing on objects, including fur, can be signs of anxiety or discomfort. Consider if there have been any recent changes in your cat’s environment or routine that could be causing stress. And if you’re worried your cat is experiencing anxiety, that’s another reason to call the vet. They can evaluate your cat’s health, provide specific guidance based on your kitty’s situation, and rule out any underlying medical issues contributing to this behavior.

RELATED: 6 Signs Your Cat Is Stressed Out

So, does your cat eat fur off the floor or couch? Do they just snarf up a furball as they see it drifting by? It’s probably nothing to worry about. However, if the fur eating is severe or accompanied by unusual behavior, pick up your phone and schedule that vet appointment.

But always remember, fur does not make a meal, so don’t forget to feed the cat.

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