How can I keep my apartment free of cat fur?
September 14, 2008 12:10 PM   Subscribe

[Cat fur filter]: What's the best way to keep my apartment free of cat fur?

I have two indoor cats in a smallish carpeted apartment. I vacuum thoroughly at least once a week, and wipe down kitchen surfaces daily, but the fur still gets EVERYWHERE. I am surprised and disgusted to find it coating the top of kitchen surfaces, inside my drawers, literally everywhere. I can only conclude that the fur is airborne, possibly stirred up by the open windows and my two ceiling fans.

The cats pretty much stick to sitting on their cat trees, two pieces of furniture, and the floor. They never get on the counters or table. They get very high quality cat food, FWIW. All the places they sit are thoroughly vacuumed when I do the weekly cleaning.

I can't really up the cleaning schedule due to other commitments. In short, I'd rather throw money rather than time at the problem. So what could I invest in that would help me have a cleaner environment?

Would air filters in every room solve the problem? (Though my windows are open all summer so they may be of limited use.) Or a better vacuum cleaner? (A full-size vacuum absolutely won't fit, and I'm currently using a canister style vacuum.)
posted by bchaplin to Pets & Animals (23 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
'tis one of the joys of having cats..

it shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes to vacuum a small apartment every day...that would only takes me 20 minutes to vacuum a two story house....

Also, I assume that you spend time petting your cats... use some of that time to brush them...that will help as well...
posted by HuronBob at 12:19 PM on September 14, 2008

How often do you brush the cats? I find that helps quite a bit with reducing cat hair levels at my place. You might look into a Furminator -- they remove a LOT of hair. In addition, if they're shedding more than usual right now, it may be due to the changing seasons and it may abate soon.

Otherwise, I sometimes get frustrated and take a lint roller to my cat. He doesn't seem to mind.
posted by runningwithscissors at 12:21 PM on September 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

We can assume that getting rid of the cats isn't a viable option, right?

Do you mean air filters like those air-cleaning machines? You'd probably wind up spending a lot of time emptying the filter of cat hair.

Throwing money at the problem? You could pay a maid service to clean more thoroughly and regularly.
posted by box at 12:22 PM on September 14, 2008

I am in the same position (2 cats, small apartment). I find the irobot roomba vacuum is pretty effective. I turn it on a couple times a day when I leave the apartment, and it keeps the floor reasonably cat hair free.
posted by pseudonick at 12:22 PM on September 14, 2008

Dittoing the Furminator. Makes a crazy amount of difference, especially if you can stick to at least a 3 times/week schedule. Our cat loves it - it's her "all about me" time with us.
posted by twiki at 12:26 PM on September 14, 2008

Definitely brush the cats at least once a day. Getting the loose fur off of the cats before it gets into the air is the key. I had a rubber mitt with nubs on it that I used to brush my cat, and it worked wonders. Bought it at a corner pet store.
posted by decathecting at 12:30 PM on September 14, 2008

Second HuronBob. A really good brush is the Furminator. There is a specific Furminator tool for cats. One of our cats is a long-haired black cat and it really helps with his shedding. It doesn't eliminate it, but does help.

We recently changed vacuum cleaners to a Dyson and have noticed an amazing difference in the amount of cat hair it picks up. They probably make a small-ish one although it might not work as well as a full-sized model to get cat hair.
posted by angiep at 12:31 PM on September 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: box, getting rid of the cats would obviously solve the problem but that option isn't on the table :)

The problem with vacuuming - and roomba-ing -- is that the apartment is both tiny and full of furniture. To really vacuum well takes a while because everything has to be moved out of the way. I am not sure if a roomba wouldn't spend most of its time bumping into things. I'd be willing to give it a try though.

I do brush the one cat that is amenable to grooming.
posted by bchaplin at 12:32 PM on September 14, 2008

What type of filter does your vacuum have? Like AngieP, we just upgraded to a Dyson Ball, and have noticed a significant difference. You probably don't need to spend that much. Anything with a HEPA filter would be better, and the washable/reusable type are the best.
I found this A alternative to the furminator that was a bit cheaper and works well, but even just brushing them cuts down on the floating hairs.
posted by purpletangerine at 12:41 PM on September 14, 2008

Brushing and combing your cats daily. Buy the kind of comb that has one half coarse teeth, the other half fine teeth. First brush the cat, next comb with the coarse teeth, finally with the fine teeth. Each stage removes more hair. It can be a time of closeness and bonding, if your cat is into that. My cat purrs.
posted by exphysicist345 at 1:07 PM on September 14, 2008

nthing Furminator! It's great, and NOTHING like a regular brush. It's kind of insane. If you have a porch that you could Furminate on, that might be a good idea. Otherwise, do it sitting on the bathroom floor, where it's easier to sweep up. Wear clothes that you're ready to throw in the wash, you'll end up covered in fur too.

I use the sticky lint rollers to get fur off of curtains and whatnot, and I vacuum the sofa. Sounds weird, but it works really well. Sounds like you already to, but try vacuuming the cat trees.

Also, cats shed a lot more in the summer, so take solace in the fact that it won't be quite as bad as it gets colder (if you're in the northern hemisphere).
posted by AlisonM at 1:18 PM on September 14, 2008

nthing the Furminator. If you've never tried one, you're in for a treat. Find a friend who'll lend it to you for a test drive, because they're expensive. (Amazon is the cheapest I've found.) Prepare to pay upwards of $25 for a cat-sized Furminator. It doesn't work like other brushes; it strips out the undercoat, clump after clump after clump after clump. Your cat will look like he's lost a couple of pounds by the time you're through. I used to use mine on my labrador before he died, and it *significantly* reduced the fur tumbleweeds. And the pile of fur covered about 2 square feet on the kitchen floor. From one brushing.

(No, I have no interest in the company, but I should, with all the referrals I give for the damn thing.)

posted by ImproviseOrDie at 1:21 PM on September 14, 2008

Roomba here as well. I have one long-haired cat. The Roomba may not take the place of using your upright vacuum, but it's helpful because you can run it every dy while you are gone, or doing other things. It takes about 5 minutes to empty and clean after it runs.

I use an adhesive lint-roller on my sofa. I don't tend to find hair on anything besides the floor or sofa, though.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:24 PM on September 14, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice. Well, clearly the Furminator has a large number of advocates. And it is cheaper than a cleaning service or Roomba -- I will give it a try. At least, on the fat cat who does most of the shedding, as he loves to be groomed.

Is this ( the recommended model for cats? They are short-haired.
posted by bchaplin at 1:27 PM on September 14, 2008

Getting our long hair cat the "lion cut" at our vet helped cut down on the loose hair a lot.
posted by roofone at 1:29 PM on September 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yep, the purple Furminator is the one for cats. Good luck!
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 1:41 PM on September 14, 2008

You said that they get very high quality food, but you didn't say what kind. FWIW, I was feeding science diet to my dogs but found out as part of the whole Chinese melamine thing that Science Diet is pure crap. Switching to Innova by Nutro took their shedding from "vacuum 3 times a week" to "vacuum once a week, if that".
posted by SpecialK at 4:48 PM on September 14, 2008

You can also bathe them very occasionally (maybe once every 1.5 months) in warm water, then brush them after they've dried. This will help you to get all of that dead hair before they can shed it.

I'm not convinced that this really works, but it can't hurt: there are supplements on the market containing essential fatty acids that claim to reduce shedding. At the very worst, your cats will just be shedding healthier, more lustrous fur.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 4:55 PM on September 14, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks again for the suggestions. They get cans of Wellness and some dry Evo. For what it's worth, one of my cats has a pretty good coat. The other one, who tends to overeat, is the messy beast who is probably responsible for most of the loose fur.

I will try the grooming with the Furminator -- unfortunately baths are out of the question, and so is taking them to a groomer. But I'm sure these things would work with other (calmer) cats, so this is a great thread for someone else with a similar problem.
posted by bchaplin at 7:59 PM on September 14, 2008

Forget the Dyson -- if you can spare about $80, get the Eureka Optima with the PowerPaw. The PowerPaw alone is worth the money--it sucks hair off of furniture (duvets, microfiber, you name it) like you wouldn't believe. I have three cats and it has seriously improved my life. Also, the Furminator!
posted by gsh at 9:03 PM on September 14, 2008

I found my ShedEnder at the thriftstore for a buck, Kitty loves how sleek it makes her coat, never mind the heap of fur under the porch. (you might turn on your adblock for that link)
posted by hortense at 9:06 PM on September 14, 2008

It's probably useless commentary by this point, but I'll nth the Furminator. It made a significant difference in the fur tumbleweeds in my apartment.
posted by WCityMike at 3:11 PM on September 16, 2008

Response by poster: Update: I just got the Furminator. Definitely pulls tons of fur off the cat that none of the other brushes catch.

The cat got bored and wandered off, though, so I'll have to finish brushing him later. The overall effect on the cleanliness of the apartment remains to be seen.

I also checked out the Eureka Optima -- looks like a future purchase!

Thanks again, everyone!
posted by bchaplin at 5:43 PM on September 16, 2008

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