Article at a Glance…
- The best vacuums for cat hair and litter that I have found as a cat owner are: Hoover UH30310 (upright), Kenmore 21614 (canister), V3S (robotic) and Bissell 33A1B (handheld).
- Vacuums specially designed for pet owners have a lot of awesome benefits e.g. removing allergens, pet odor, litter dust, fleas and deeply embedded fur from your carpets and soft furnishings.
- Can I just say how much I love my pet vacuum?! (I actually enjoy using it…I need to get out more, right?)
I never thought I would get excited about a vacuum cleaner, but hear me out. Buying a vacuum designed for pet owners actually changed our lives. I’ve mentioned a few times that my husband is allergic to cats, despite owning two of them. We already use antihistamine tablets and anti-allergy shampoo to try and combat it. The best thing we’ve done by far is buying a vacuum cleaner that’s especially designed for pet owners. We did have a regular vacuum before but it didn’t help at all.
Before we made this purchase, we were literally inhaling cat hair as we slept. We found cat hairs in our food and on my hubby’s work uniform (very unprofessional). They even clogged up our sinks and dishwasher. It was that bad. Part of the reason was because we had moved the cats from Canada to Australia. The sudden hot temperature triggered massive shedding. When I pulled a long, slimy (it had been in there a while!) cat hair out of my eye, that was the last straw. In this article I’m going to share why vacuum cleaners designed for cat owners are worth the investment.
The advantages of using a vacuum designed for cat owners
If you have cats – indoor cats in particular – I think buying a specially designed vacuum is an investment worth making. We spent several hundred dollars on ours so expectations were high. I can honestly say that I don’t regret a single cent we spent on it.
It may seem a bit sad, but I actually enjoy using it! If you have indoor cats, you’ll probably be shocked by the amount of litter granules that are hiding in your rugs and carpets. It’s a fact of life that cats will get some litter caught in their fur and feet. I vacuum nearly everyday and hearing it getting sucked up is pretty satisfying. But I digress. Apart from being fun for neat freaks, here are some of the great things about having a special vacuum for cat hair and litter:
Can reduce symptoms of cat allergy
You’ve probably heard of HEPA air filters,? If not, it stands for high-efficiency particulate arresting. It’s a filter that can remove even the tiniest particles from the air that passes through it (source). They are used in medical environments and even airplanes to purify the air. You might be surprised to hear that they’re used in many high end vacuum cleaners too. This means that they can remove pet dander and other allergens, drastically reducing allergy triggers.
Removes many pet stains
Especially when your cat is a kitten, he will have a few accidents outside the litter box. Even now, our cats occasionally vomit on our rug. I used to freak out over it. Now, with a combination of carpet cleaning foam and the carpet cleaning attachment on our vacuum, I can remove stains easily. Our light taupe rug is completely unblemished. If you clean the stain quickly, you can avoid permanent damage.
Reduces pet odor in your home
There’s an unfortunate stereotype that all homes with pets smell awful. This is especially associated with cat owners. This doesn’t have to be the case. Our cats smell great because we wash and brush them regularly. And they don’t go outdoors. However, their litter box does smell. This is partially because of the litter particles themselves and partially because of the absorbed urine that can remain in the “clean” litter.
Since a vacuum designed for cat hair and litter removes litter fragments from fabric and carpets, and filters dander from the air, it goes a long way towards preventing odor. In fact, our estate agent commented that pet owners often have cleaner homes than those without. We go the extra mile to vacuum and clean daily.
We’re lucky that we don’t have to worry about fleas since our two cats are indoor-only. However, if your pet does end up with a flea infestation, a good vacuum can get rid of the insects from your carpets and soft furnishings.
Choosing a vacuum for a home with cats
When choosing any vacuum, you should decide on the type you’re most comfortable using. Here are the most common types of vacuum:
Upright: Upright vacuums are what I think of as the “oldschool” design. They can be pretty big and hard to get into small spaces. However, their power makes up for the inconvenience.
Canister: Canister vacuums are made up of a tank – generally about half the size of an upright vacuum. They have a long hose with various attachments. I think these are a good compromise between size and power. They are often as powerful as upright models but can be stored much more easily.
Stick: Even more compact is the stick vacuum. It’s lightweight and thin but usually less powerful than the upright and canister types.
Handheld: Handheld vacuums are just as they sound – lightweight, portable vacuums. Handheld vacuums are designed to clean small messes and tight spaces such as tabletops, furniture and car interiors. While they’re very effective at their job, you won’t be cleaning your entire floor with one. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands. They’re best for maintenance in between big cleans.
Robotic: If you hate vacuuming and wish your home could clean itself, then a robotic vacuum cleaner will make your dreams come true. They are cordless and can be programmed to clean your home without any input from you. One disadvantage is that they tend to be less powerful than their human-operated counterparts (source).
I’ve already explained how awesome HEPA filters are. If you have allergies, I highly recommend choosing a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. They are also great for removing pet odor, especially if they have activated carbon added. You will need to replace your filters around once per year (source), depending on the amount of vacuuming you do. It’s worth adding in the cost when making your decision.
Suction Power & Brushroll
It’s hard to compare suction power between vacuum models as there isn’t a single standard unit of measurement. A canister vacuum needs a higher power engine than an upright because the suction must be strong enough to reach the end of the long cleaning tube (source). Some vacuums have a rotating brushroll in their base. This helps lift deeply embedded particles, even at lower suctions. In my opinion, if you want a vacuum to remove pet stains, it must have a brushroll. Mine does and it just works great.
Bags vs. bagless
We use a vacuum cleaner with bags and it’s certainly an ongoing cost. We have to replace them around four times a year. Although I do vacuum a lot so you might be able to make them last longer. You can save money by choosing a bagless model but they can be difficult to empty. With a bag, the opening usually self seals when you remove it from the vacuum. You simply throw out the bag and nothing escapes.
Bagless vacuums need to be opened and the dirt emptied into a bag or trashcan. Sometimes it can get stuck and you’ll have to pull it out. If you are allergic to cats, you’re going to get a bunch of dander and allergens in your face. For that reason I recommend vacuums with bags for cat allergies.
Where do you intend to use it?
As well as choosing the right size vacuum cleaner for the area, think about the type of surfaces you want to clean. Some models work better on carpets or hard floors. The wrong type of vacuum could lead to scratches if you have a hard wood floor. Some vacuums have attachments for fabric and upholstery.
Buying a good vacuum should be a long term investment. They can be expensive so you shouldn’t have to replace it every other year. Find a warranty that lasts as long as possible in case something goes wrong down the line.
Nobody likes a noisy vacuum, but cats especially hate them. Along with hairdryers, the vacuum is the number one sound my cats hate. Be kind and choose a quiet model so your kitties won’t be so scared.
My Cat Vacuum Reviews
By now you should have decided which type of vacuum cleaner (upright, canister, handheld, robotic) will suit your home. I’ve picked a favorite from each category and given a summary of its pros and cons to help you decide on the right vacuum for your home. I hope it helps!
In my opinion, the UH30310 vacuum from Hoover is best vacuum for pet hair and allergies. It’s an upright model with plenty of ergonomic features which compensate for its large size. It’s very lightweight for an upright at only 15 pounds. It has a handheld tool for hard to reach areas and a light at the front so you can see what you’re doing.
It has a brushroll for extra deep cleaning and a HEPA filter and activated charcoal to neutralize odors and remove allergens. It’s suitable for use on any type of floor, even hard wood due to the adjustable brush height. Another awesome feature for those with allergies is the so-called “Clean Drop Bag System”. It allows you to dispose of the full bag without even touching it. It comes with a special air-powered pet hand tool with rubber wipers to collect hair and a pet upholstery tool for fabric. I really have no complaints about this model, it’s also great for pet hair and hardwood floors.
If you prefer a bagless version (not recommended if you have pet allergies) Hoover make one of those too.
Features: HEPA filter, bags, 2 year limited warranty, brushroll, activated carbon for odor, upholstery, hard wood floors, carpet, crevices/hard-to-reach areas
The 21614 from Kenmore is a canister model which is also great for cat hair and litter. It’s designed with pet owners and allergies in mind. It features a long hose for ceiling to floor cleaning and a HEPA filter to remove dander and pet odor.
It has the brushroll which is essential for picking up pet hairs but also includes a tool for hard floors and upholstery. An interesting addition is the stair grip. The stair grip makes it easier to keep the canister steady when cleaning your staircase
Features: HEPA filter, bags, 1 year limited warranty, brushroll, upholstery, hard wood floors, carpet, crevices/hard-to-reach areas
As someone who loves cleaning, I don’t really see the attraction with robotic vacuums. My husband on the other hand, thinks they’re the greatest invention ever. Each to their own. If it’s a robotic vacuum cleaner you’re after and you have cats, you can’t go wrong with the V3S from ILIFE. It could be the best choice if you hate cleaning or have a busy lifestyle (or are just lazy :P).
It has a HEPA filter and is fully portable and cordless. You simply charge it up and it’s ready to go. One thing with the smaller vacuums (handheld and robotic) is that they tend to be bagless. So if you have allergies, you should get someone who isn’t allergic to empty them. One disadvantage is that some users report it has trouble with high-pile rugs and carpets.
Features: HEPA filter, bagless, 1 year limited warranty, hard wood floors, robotic, portable, cordless
If you’re looking for the best handheld vacuum for cat hair, then the 33A1B from Bissel is certainly a good choice. It’s designed specifically to pick up cat hair with a rubber nozzle. The Pet Hair Eraser is suitable for upholstery, floors and small messes such as litter spills. It’s also super light at less than four pounds.
Again, it is bagless so those with pet allergies should be careful when emptying it. It has a multi layer filter to separate cat hairs from smaller particles. I think this would be great to supplement a bigger vacuum. It’s a pain to break out the upright cleaner every time we have a litter spill (everyday basically). I would keep this in the cupboard beside the litter box.
Features: Bagless, 1 year limited warranty, upholstery, hard wood floors, carpet, crevices/hard-to-reach areas, portable
This is something a little different. It is what the name sounds like – a vacuum powered pet hair brush! We have struggled so hard with finding a good cat hair brush and during that crazy shedding period, I often wished I could vacuum the hair directly off my cats.
Obviously I’m not the only person who was thinking this because Dyson have created an attachment for this purpose. Dyson certainly is on the higher end of the price range as far as pet vacuums go, but if you have the money, they are worth checking out. If you have allergies however, the fact that they are bagless could be an issue when emptying. They also make a model that’s a good candidate for the best cordless vacuum for cat litter. I have no experience with stick/cordless vacuums but you can find out more about it here.
Phew, that’s the longest article I’ve written so far! I hope it’s answered all of your questions about vacuums for cat owners. If you’re still wondering about something, just leave me a comment 🙂
Overall, if you have cat allergies, your choice is pretty narrow. You need a bag vacuum with a HEPA filter and brush roll. Since the Hoover upright has the added bonus of an activated carbon odor neutralizer, it’s a shoe-in for my top pick. Heck, even if you don’t have allergies, I still recommend this one, as it does a great job.
Do you have a favorite which I haven’t mentioned it here? I’m not due to replace ours anytime soon (got that warranty!) but I’d still be interested to hear about it.