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.
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?