Best vacuum for cats? Difficulty level: on a budget
August 19, 2013 3:47 PM   Subscribe

I recently got a really wonderful cat! While my old cheap-o vacuum did just fine before getting the cat, it is now seriously out if its league. I clearly need to replace the vacuum with something more powerful, but the prices of vacuum cleaners scare me (I am a student and so money is tight). Any suggestions on vacuums that will get the job done with pet hair but not totally break the bank?
posted by rainbowbrite to Pets & Animals (26 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
You should specify whether you have mostly carpet or mostly hard floors. I think the answers will vary a lot depending on what you're trying to suck cat hair off of.
posted by town of cats at 3:50 PM on August 19, 2013

Response by poster: Good point, town of cats! We have hardwood floors with some big area rugs. The rugs are the problem - I don't mind sweeping the wood floor areas, but the hair gets stuck in the rugs there is no good way to get it out.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:55 PM on August 19, 2013

I got a basic Eureka Maxima for my 4-legged bosses. About $50-$60, you can buy it anywhere, works fine.
posted by Rob Rockets at 4:12 PM on August 19, 2013

I got a Panasonic upright bagless model (its model number is one of the MC-UL*** ones) and have found that it has really great suction and pulls up a bunch of cat hair from rugs. I think its cleaning power is reviewed as well as the Dyson vacs.

The cons -- It is NOT very maneuverable and I am not crazy about the way the attachments work.

But, it's about 1/5 the price of the nice Dysons.
posted by pantarei70 at 4:14 PM on August 19, 2013

I bought this Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Pet Rewind Plus Upright for picking up cat hair and have been very happy with it (especially considering the price). I realize you are not looking to spend a bunch of money and buy multiple products, but I have a mini Shop-Vac and that has also been very helpful with pet-related clean-up (I don't like to use my regular vacuum to pick up stuff like cat litter so it's been really great for that AND has actually come in pretty handy in conjunction with carpet cleaner for those...more unfortunate accidents).
posted by lovableiago at 4:15 PM on August 19, 2013

Brush your cat every day - with vigor - but not too much vigor.
They love it, it prevents hairballs and it stimulates their kidneys nicely so they don't get that nasty kidney disease they tend to get in old age.
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 4:30 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a Bissell Cleanview II, which is now the Cleanview Helix. The reivews are only good, but I think the vacuum works great. $80 to $100.
posted by cnc at 4:32 PM on August 19, 2013

I came here to link to the Hoover WindTunnel, but lovableiago beat me to it. I have three cats, a ton of carpet, and the amount of crap it pulls up is impressive. I've very happy with it. I kinda even like vaccuming now just to see how much cat hair it pulls up.
posted by cgg at 4:45 PM on August 19, 2013

I have seven cats and three dogs, and have and love the Eureka Upright Bagless Pet Lover Vacuum. My cousin, who has a St. Bernard, has the same one and loves it. Seventy bucks on Amazon; would purchase again in a heartbeat.

I use it on my hardwoods and have no issues with it, but apparently some people find it frustrating to do so--if you have mostly non-carpet, you might not want this.
posted by MeghanC at 4:46 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm with Tullyogallahan, go the low tech, high affection option of brushing your cats. Since we started brushing (although I comb) Squeaky Cat, our lose hair problem has reduced to almost zero, plus she comes onto my lap each night after dinner on cue just for her comb. I can now wear black and velvet with no evidence that I own a cat.
posted by Kerasia at 5:17 PM on August 19, 2013

The window squeegee tip from Life Hacker is amazing! I use a cheap squeegee from the dollar store. No need for an expensive high powered vacuum cleaner.
posted by JujuB at 6:02 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Side-bar for the cat brushers - neither of our cats particularly like being brushed. We are gentle, we give lots of pats and scratches at the same time, we use the very nice furminator (though we've tried other brushes) and the cats give us maybe 60 seconds if we're lucky.

Advice? Even our otherwise super duper mellow ragdoll becomes peeved if I try to persist in brushing him past 90 seconds.
posted by arnicae at 6:08 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Hoover brand is traditionally recommended for cat vacuuming by Ivor Cutler.
posted by ovvl at 6:08 PM on August 19, 2013

After a lot of dead vacuums, I finally realized that bagless vacuums, which rely so heavily on filtration, just cannot stand up to really hairy pets.

I have an $89 Hoover bagged model (buy the bags in heaps from Amazon) that's on its fourth or fifth year. Even the Dyson died in less than 20 months.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:10 PM on August 19, 2013

Before my in-laws gave us our awesome Dyson, I also owned and really liked a Hoover WindTunnel. It worked great in a 3-cat household with wood floors and lots of area rugs, and effectively cleaned a sofa that was the worst fur-magnet sort of fabric imaginable.
posted by bedhead at 6:13 PM on August 19, 2013

my old hoover electric broom (stick vacuum) works so great on pet hair and everything else i've never bought a real vacuum. here's a current model for $90. it's over 20 years old and still kickin'.
posted by wildflower at 6:17 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

We have four cats, three shorthairs, and a long hair (Norwegian Forest cat). A few months ago, we bought the Eureka SuctionSeal Pet Upright Vacuum, AS1104A and it's fantastic. We have industrial carpet, and it has excellent suction, and has no problem picking up the cat hair and pieces of cardboard from their scratching post.
posted by lola at 6:39 PM on August 19, 2013

I have a long haired Persian, with exceptionally clingy hair. The only vacuum that's worked for me is this BISSELL PowerEdge Pet Hard Floor Vacuum. The key is that it doesn't have any rollers for the hair to get tangled around. Instead it has little rubbery deals that push the cat hair off of the carpet in the same way JujuB's squeegee trick does. It's the only thing that keeps my carpet from being a constant mat of cat hair.
posted by MsMolly at 6:42 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

The absolute cheapest solution here is to sell the rugs.
posted by yohko at 11:00 PM on August 19, 2013

The brand in Europe that gets a lot of plaudits is German brand Sebo, who actually have a model designed to get rid of cat hair, the Sebo Felix.

It is an upright cleaner but has changeable head for carpet or wooden floors. It is also flexible enough to go under sofas, chairs etc. I own one. They are good.

They do break the bank though: $599. They charge that premium because they are expected to last for a long time. You can find used ones on ebay for about half that.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:31 AM on August 20, 2013

The difference between a Dyson and a Hoover is that you will replace the Hoover more frequently - I used to work in a selling environment, and our Hoover floor models broke constantly (plastic cracking, handles breaking off, bars cracking, etc.) whereas the Dyson models, which were demonstrated more frequently, took no damage.

I no longer work in that field, but I do own a Dyson which I've dropped down a flight of stairs a few times, and it works quite well on the accumulated hair from three cats, one rabbit, and three long-haired humans.

If you don't like bagless vacuums, then buy a Miele. Similar quality, but lighter and a little quieter than Dyson (though really, it's a vacuum, it's gonna be noisy).

And if you don't like spending $500+ on a vacuum, buy Bissell, not Hoover. They seemed to break a little less frequently, though they still did break. The Hoover stuff was just absolute garbage.

Oh, and don't buy an upright if you have stairs. Canister vacuums are lighter and just as powerful, and can be used on stairs without requiring a balancing act. Most canister vacs also have sweeper attachments for your hardwood, too.
posted by Nyx at 8:29 AM on August 20, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions! I definitely have some researching to do but will come back and update with 'best answer' once I decide which one to buy!

A couple of updates based on questions/comments above in case anyone has any other options they want to throw into the ring:

1. I do brush the cat, but he doesn't like it and will pretty quickly turn to scratching/biting. So, I will keep up the efforts but don't see that as a substitute for vacuuming anytime soon.
2. The rugs are here to stay as per apartment building rules (we're on an upper level and they are needed to shield sound from those below us).
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:53 AM on August 20, 2013

In to suggest the squeegee method as well. In my apartment I bought two rugs exactly the width of the hallway, and together they essentially form an area rug - which my cat loves to roll all over in delight when I walk in the door or when she's just finished eating. I use a foot-wide steel-handled squeegee on the rug about once every couple weeks, or more often when a particular friend with severe allergies is back from school. Works wonders, and is way easier than any vacuum I've ever used. Bonus: no cleaning out the dust canister.

Of course, I also beat my rugs periodically to get the dust out, so if you don't do that you may want to vacuum them afterward with your existing machine.
posted by Urban Winter at 10:04 AM on August 20, 2013

I've had a Dyson for the last six years, and I've loved it. I went through three cheapo vacs in five months and decided to splurge. Your budget needs might not allow for that sort of decision making. (I got mine refurbished on Amazon warehouse deals)

The only complaint, having cats, is that I shouldn't have gone upright. My cats love my upholstered furniture, and a canister vac would be easier to maneuver with my sofas.
posted by politikitty at 11:30 AM on August 20, 2013

If you do get a canister vac, do be sure it comes with a "beater brush / power bar" attachment, which is one of those powered rotary rug brushes. An upright vac is essentially a giant beater brush, with side accessories to take care of things like Ceiling Spider, etc. I'm fairly certain most canister vacs these days come with a power brush, but it's been decades since I owned a canister vac and I'm no longer certain. This is the only way to vacuum up ground in cat hair from the area rugs, although the squeegee trick works just fine if you're okay with squeegeeing on your hands and knees (this will likely depend on your area rug acreage).

Honestly for most of the vacuuming we do around the house (including Ceiling Spider and things like fruit fly invasions), we typically reach for our $50 generic shop vac over the fancy, expensive upright Dyson I got when the cheap Bissell my husband got in college succumbed to our cat hair overlords. So that's always an option too. It obvs doesn't come with a beater brush, and it is LOUD AS HELL, but the added power makes up for all that. Bonus: since it's a shop vac, it's wet/dry so that time we had a major dishwasher leak I was able to vac it up in a jiffy before it ruined the hardwood. See also: major feline-invoked houseplant disasters, etc... I mean, it isn't sexy in the least, but damn are those things useful. And cheap. Did I mention cheap?

For general hair-removal-from-source advice, you might see if a Love Glove will do the trick. Even our skittish rescue kitty, who wasn't all that stoked about being petted when we got him (much less being brushed) has caved in to the appeal of this thing.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:54 PM on August 20, 2013

When I need to get cat hair out of carpet, I:

- lower the brush on the standard vacuum cleaner head

- run the brush over the entire carpet without turning the vacuum on (this loosens the hair; I suspect it works like the squeegee trick)

- pull out any hair that's caught in the brush and toss it

- raise the brush back into the vacuum cleaner head

- vacuum.

Best of luck with your lovely cat! If you have time to post a picture, I know MeFi would love to see him.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:16 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

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