Cats and Vacuum Cleaners

cat_with_vacuum cleaner

When it comes to cats and vacuum cleaners, there seems to be no grey zone: cats either hate them, of, if a slew of videos on YouTube is to be believed, love them. I’ve never had a cat who loved the vacuum cleaner, and with the exception of Allegra, all my cats have always been afraid of “The Monster,” as we call it at our house.

It’s not surprising that most cats dislike vacuums. They’re loud – even to us. Imagine what they sound like to far more sensitive cat ears. They move at the cat’s level, and seem to be able to go anywhere. They eat everything in their path. What’s not to be afraid of?

Feebee was terrified of the vacuum cleaner and would hide under the bed until I was done. Amber’s hiding place was the shower stall in the downstairs bathroom. Buckley was neutral about the vacuum cleaner when she was my office cat at the animal hospital and would watch it go by while sitting on my desk. Once she came home with me, she started to become afraid. Maybe my vacuum was louder than the one we used at the office. Ruby hides either behind an end table in the living room, or under the bed.

Much to my surprise, Allegra, my scaredy cat who used to be afraid of every possible loud noise when I first adopted her, is not phased at all by the vacuum cleaner. She watches me bring it out, plug it in, and doesn’t even flinch when I turn it on. She keeps a close eye on it from a foot or two away, and often follows me through the house as I vacuum. The one thing she does seem to mind is the cord: when I start reeling it in, she gets all puffed up and sometimes attacks the cord. Maybe she thinks it’s a snake?

Ruby, on the other hand, is terrified of “The Monster.” As soon as she seems me go through my usual pre-vacuum routine, she goes to the highest spot on the  highest cat tree in our house.

If your cat is afraid of the vacuum cleaner, respect that fear. It may seem funny in a YouTube video to watch a cat scatter from a vacuum, but it’s not fun for your cat if she is truly afraid. Announce that you’re about to bring out the vacuum. Give your cat time to leave the room. As you move through the house, turn the vacuum off if your cat ends up in its path, and give your cat room and time to get out of the way.

The Huffington Post featured a series of videos of cats and vacuums in Cats Vs. Vacuum Cleaners: The Epic Battle Continues; the one below is my favorite:

Maybe I should get a Roomba – even though Ruby is afraid of our current upright vacuum cleaner, I could just see her being the cat that rides around on top of a Roomba!

Is your cat afraid of the vacuum cleaner?

 

37 Comments on Cats and Vacuum Cleaners

  1. JannaG
    August 29, 2016 at 9:06 pm (10 months ago)

    Ha! I need a roomba. I can get my kitty to ride it and do the vacuuming for me. She needs to do something. Right now she’s just mooching off of me. 😉

    Reply
  2. Shannon
    October 21, 2014 at 6:53 pm (3 years ago)

    It took me a while to realize why the cats ran for the basement when I started picking up cat toys. It was because the next step was the vacuum. I have one cat that will watch me vacuum from the top of the cat tree. I can vacuum all the way up to her level but I don’t go any further because I don’t want to scare her.

    Reply
  3. Joy
    April 21, 2014 at 10:43 pm (3 years ago)

    Huh…I guess Charlie really is quite extraordinary then. He is not at all afraid of our vaccuum cleaner. It is a loud, maximum suction vaccuum cleaner too. Charlie would follow me when I vaccuum. If I bring the sucking tube (no attachment) close to him, he would grab it and bite the tip a little.

    I also have a vaccuum robot similar to Roomba. I don’t use it much, since it’s not nearly as efficient as using a conventional vaccuum cleaner myself. But anyway, Charlie chases the roomba robot too. But I do remember him being afraid of it when I first introduced the robot to Charlie. That fear ended real quick.

    Charlie is a brave (but not very bright) Scottish Fold, by the way. His friendliness & openness make him seem more canine than feline.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 22, 2014 at 5:47 am (3 years ago)

      I think your Charlie is quite unique, Joy! I don’t know of too many cats who actually follow the vaccuum cleaner.

      Reply
  4. Esme
    June 1, 2012 at 10:22 am (5 years ago)

    M. cannot stand it and I give him a chance to leave before turning it on , P. who is phased by everything is complacent about the vacuum cleaner-now bring out the broom and she is mesmerized and will chase it as I clean up.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 1, 2012 at 10:24 am (5 years ago)

      How interesting. I wonder why the broom is so much more interesting to Penelope?

      Reply
  5. Lily
    June 1, 2012 at 6:21 am (5 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing your experiences here on your blog.

    Reply
  6. Becky
    June 1, 2012 at 1:37 am (5 years ago)

    One of my cats is brave enough that she tries to attack the vacuum, swatting it if gets near her.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 1, 2012 at 6:34 am (5 years ago)

      Now that’s a brave kitty, Becky!

      Reply
  7. Bernadette
    May 30, 2012 at 11:50 pm (5 years ago)

    So I don’t need to feel funny when I hold up the working end of my tank sweeper and announce, “I’m going to turn on the sweeper now, is everyone ready?”

    I don’t mind giving them a little goose, but I don’t like outright frightening them.

    Reply
  8. Margaret
    May 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm (5 years ago)

    My cats are terrified of the vacuum cleaner, but nonchalant about the Roombas. I think it is because the Roomba is “below” them, so they don’t feel threatened by it. It’s not looming like the other vac. Hard to be afraid of something that you see as smaller than you.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 30, 2012 at 8:14 pm (5 years ago)

      Hmmm…I’m starting to think Ruby really needs her own Roomba, Margaret! Oh, and I wouldn’t mind one, either! 😉

      Reply
  9. Cat maniac
    May 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm (5 years ago)

    From my personal experience my cats absolutely hate the vacuum, in fact they seem to think it is the devil himself. However I’ve seen a lot of videos on youtube that made me almost pee myself watching cats lazing like gods getting massaged by vacuum cleaners!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 30, 2012 at 6:35 pm (5 years ago)

      I can’t believe all the YouTube videos of cats being vacuumed, either!

      Reply
  10. Savannah NanaMo
    May 30, 2012 at 3:58 pm (5 years ago)

    I hate the Hoover! We are realllll careful here with that noisy monster! But OH MY CAT! That cute kitty on the Rumba machine…MOL

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 30, 2012 at 6:34 pm (5 years ago)

      Isn’t the Roomba video hilarious, Savannah?

      Reply
  11. Randy
    May 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm (5 years ago)

    very funny video. My cat is afraid of the vacuum. He hides as soon as i bring it out.

    Reply
  12. Heather
    May 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm (5 years ago)

    I have a built-in vacuum and I only need to get the hose out for Bella to scurry under the bed. If I take a bit of time between grabbing the hose and plugging it in, she will come back to the bedroom door and watch. As soon as I lift the end to plug it in – she is back under the bed. Shadow will walk around with me sometimes, but if I move the vacuum in his direction he will go and keep Bella company. I don’t have any carpet, so I don’t use the really noisy parts of the vacuum.

    Reply
  13. Donna B
    May 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm (5 years ago)

    I foster cats and most of them are terrified of the vacuum but I had one litter of kittens that would sit on the climber while I vacuumed it and would just move out of the way to another side of the climber when it came close. That was probably because they got so used to the vacuum as they had ringworm and I had to vacuum/disinfect their room every day for 9 weeks. Got to be old hat for them by the end of that time.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm (5 years ago)

      I guess that’s the secret for everything with cats, Donna: get them used to it while they’re young.

      Reply
  14. Whisppy
    May 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm (5 years ago)

    My cats don’t hide from the vacuum though they will make way for it. Boomer isn’t the least bothered by it and will even allow me to vacuum his body.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm (5 years ago)

      That just amazes me, Whisppy!

      Reply
  15. catherine turley
    May 30, 2012 at 11:55 am (5 years ago)

    the cats are afraid, but the rabbit kicks the tar out of it. probably thinks the vacuum is going for its food.

    ps. would love an article about the best vacuums for the price.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm (5 years ago)

      Catherine, I’m not a vacuum tester, but I can vouch for the Riccar line of vacuums (the one in the photo with Allegra above is a newer model of the one I have). I’ve had mine for more than 20 years, and it’s awesome. I get it cleaned and serviced professionally once every five years or so. At the animal hospital, we had an Oreck, which was also excellent, considering that it got used a dozen times a day every day.

      Reply
  16. Bopeeps
    May 30, 2012 at 11:44 am (5 years ago)

    Lucy completely hides under the bed. Rikki is a little bit more brave and sometimes watches from a distance.

    Reply
  17. Marilia
    May 30, 2012 at 11:34 am (5 years ago)

    Hahahahah! the video are hilarious!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm (5 years ago)

      It makes me laugh everytime I watch it, Marilia.

      Reply
  18. candace
    May 30, 2012 at 11:12 am (5 years ago)

    Everyone here, (Frankie, Jasper, and Daisy) all agree that The Monster is not a friendly guy. Up to the loft they scurry at the merest hint of Monster activity. So I always warn them when about to start and give the “all clear!” message when the deed is done. I am amazed at the cats who allow their people to vacuum their fur and I wish my cats were up for that because I probably vacuum 3 times as often as a person who has no cat family.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm (5 years ago)

      I’ve had several people leave comments on our Facebook page already about how some of their cats like to be vacuumed with the hand attachments. It amazes me, too, Candace.

      Reply
  19. Layla Morgan Wilde
    May 30, 2012 at 10:52 am (5 years ago)

    Seeing Ruby ride a Roomba. Now that’s a Youtube hit in the making! The acoustics really vary with vacuums. The Dyson Animal is quiet but pricey. Lately I’m recommending the Hoover EmPower which offers a feature called Hush Mode with the flip of a switch it’s quieter.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 30, 2012 at 11:36 am (5 years ago)

      Roomba Ruby – it even has a nice rhyme to it, Layla! I’m going to check out that Hoover you mentioned, I really like the idea of the Hush Mode.

      Reply
  20. Sammy, One Spoiled Cat
    May 30, 2012 at 7:32 am (5 years ago)

    Sam isn’t crazy about the Closet Monster either….I won’t turn it on until he’s left the area (usually he heads for the basement) and once he hears that I’ve finished, he’s back upstairs in a flash continuing with his nap or whatever. Once in a very great while he will watch from some distant spot – and follow me around very carefully……but that’s VERY rare. I’ve often wondered just how much all that racket WE hear translates to the cat’s ultra sensitive sense of hearing….has to be borderline unbearable!!

    Pam (and Sam)

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 30, 2012 at 11:35 am (5 years ago)

      I’m the same way, Pat – I won’t even turn the vacuum on until I know Ruby is in her safe space.

      Reply
  21. Ed
    May 30, 2012 at 7:24 am (5 years ago)

    My cats are like Spunky Doodle and Manny — they vacate the room if they happen to be at floor level with the vacuum cleaner, but anyone with a perch will just lay there and watch. No real panic around here; I think their attitude is “oh, DaddyCat is walking the loud beast again and making the carpet fluffy for us.” 🙂

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 30, 2012 at 11:34 am (5 years ago)

      Maybe if I convince Ruby that I’m making the carpet fluffy for her, she’ll stop being so afraid, Ed!

      Reply
  22. Spunky Doodle and Manny
    May 30, 2012 at 5:35 am (5 years ago)

    We will watch it from a chair usually; sometimes we’ll leave the room but we don’t really hide.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 30, 2012 at 11:33 am (5 years ago)

      Sounds like you guys are pretty brave!

      Reply

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