June 2, 2014 8:36 AM   Subscribe

We have two very healthy, VERY active longhair cats. We (two adults and an 5-month-old) live with them in a 700 square foot apartment. There is cat fur EVERYWHERE. You can neither walk through the air nor sit on any surface without getting covered. We've tried all the obvious fur-mitigation measures; help us figure out how best to keep our apartment clean.

-The cats are extremely healthy, and their fur is beautiful. They are 5 and 3 years old and neither has any medical issues. They eat an excellent diet and plenty of water. They do not overgroom. They just shed a LOT.

-They can easily jump to the tops of doors (yes, from the floor), the refrigerator, any shelf or cupboard, and generally any surface you can think of. There is absolutely no cat-free space in our apartment (except the very small office, which is off limits to them), so it's not just the floors that are an issue.

-They have a screen porch where they can spend time outside, but this doesn't help.

-We already have a Furminator. Yes, it removes unreal quantities of fur. However, there seems to be absolutely no end to the amount of hair these cats can create and it doesn't really make a dent in the overall problem.

-We have a great vacuum with a pet hair attachment. It cleans things up great, but less than 24 hours later there is visible cat fur EVERYWHERE.

Is there anything else we can do? Roomba? Hand-held vacuum? Air purifier? Do we really have to vacuum every day? What about our sweaters, blankets, and cushions, which are so thoroughly loaded with cat hair that frequent washing doesn't even seem to help? Would it help to bathe the cats?

Help us, Metafilter! We are tired of using sticky-rollers every time we leave the house, and our just-barely-mobile baby desperately wants to eat cat fur off of the floor. Uh oh.
posted by Cygnet to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I have a roomba (neato actually, more suction, more thorough) and I run it every other day. It takes a while but then the critical mass of hair really does go away. You can run it every day!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:41 AM on June 2, 2014

Shave the cats to get a break?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:42 AM on June 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

Do we really have to vacuum every day?

Yes. Or have your cats shaved.
posted by royalsong at 8:42 AM on June 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

I can't imagine any solution short of confining the kitties more or getthing them trimmed to shorthair status. We did this to my Maine Coon to get rid of mats, and he actually looked quite fetching as a shorthair cat, but of course it didn't last long and he still shed. But he shed short hairs that were easier to ignore. Otherwise, you just have to keep cleaning up after them. The baby will probably figure out quickly that cat hair tastes gross.
posted by emjaybee at 8:42 AM on June 2, 2014

We have one long haired cat, and she too is a major fur producer. What works for us is lots of brushing. Basically, every time I see her, I brush her with a good quality pet brush I use on my dog as well. It takes a minute or so, she adores being brushed, and the cat fur problem never gets crazy.
posted by bearwife at 8:44 AM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have the Neato, it runs daily. I also have sheets over my upholstered furniture, ro make life easier, the sheets are changed out every week. I have written about my pet fur maintenance far too frequently on Ask lately.
posted by kellyblah at 8:47 AM on June 2, 2014

Lion cuts for one of them in the summer, we brush the snot out of the other one.
posted by arnicae at 9:18 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Comb both cats on a daily basis. I find an ordinary comb is the best tool to pick up the undercoat as well as the overcoat. My long-haired cat loves to be combed so much that he writhes around making it difficult.

Arrange for it to be very cold. If your cats are warm they will shed much more. In my house there is a noticeable lessening in the cat fluff through December to March and then, around April my cats sheds prodigious amounts of fur. I keep the heat high enough to keep the pipes from freezing in the winter but not much more than that. Please note, however that if there is a toasty warm heater going the cat will gravitate to it and thereafter within twenty four hours leave felt on every surface where they stop for any length of time so you can't leave the house cold except one heater.

Have a washable on the couch or other upholstered furniture and wash it weekly.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:25 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lion cuts and more vacuuming. We have a mobile groomer come to the house every 3 months (about $100 each time) and it's totally worth it. Our little Persian kitty LOVES her haircut - she totally prances around showing off her new 'do each time it gets done.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:27 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Lion cuts are adorable and the kitties like them too, especially in summer. You still need to Furminate, but it should be less of an ordeal.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:39 AM on June 2, 2014

Are the kitties getting enough water? Dehydration and dry skin can contribute to shedding. You might try doubling the number of water bowls (or getting a fountain), adding a tablespoon of water to their wet food meals, and if they're not allergic to fish adding some salmon oil to their food. I have also heard anecdotally from friends in the rescue community that when they began feeding their cats a raw diet (most folks I know go with the Nature's' Variety Instinct raw frozen formulas), they saw shedding decrease dramatically. But of course you still have to groom daily with longhairs -- and possibly vacuum as well. Hope any of this is helpful!
posted by brina at 9:40 AM on June 2, 2014

At peak capacity, we had seven cats (one long hair) and two dogs (one double coated German Shepherd/Great Dane mix) in a small, single floor home. We currently have five cats (one long hair) and a Yorkie mix in an apartment.

1. Everything that can't be washed has to be covered in something that can be washed. For instance, I have a rubbermaid container full of sheet that I cover the couch with. Every other day, I throw the current sheet in the wash and put a new sheet on. This goes for any fabric chairs as well.

2. If the cats are allowed in the bedroom, and you don't want an insulating layer of cat fur in bed with you, you need to cover the comforter/top blanket with another sheet that is easily washable and take that off at night before you get into bed. I personally solve this by not allowing cats or dogs in the bedroom. This keeps my bed and clothing clear. I take off the clothes I wear in the rest of the house before getting into bed so as not to transfer fur.

3. Clothes should be put away in drawers or closets that the cats can't access so they can't deposit fur on clothing you are not yet wearing.

4. I have cheap rugs on top of hardwood, the fur gravitates to the rugs, making vacuuming easier. If you're really committed to no visible fur, you really will have to vacuum every day, including using the wand attachment on all flat surfaces/in corners. I don't care nearly enough about it so I vacuum weekly and live with the fur layer the rest of the time.
posted by crankylex at 10:03 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get leather furniture. I realize this is an expensive solution, but it works. There is still cat hair in my house, but it's limited to the floor and cushions and bed linens, which are all washable. At least we can sit on the couch without becoming covered in fur.
posted by something something at 10:05 AM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

We have an apartment about the same size as yours, and our one (large!) shorthair furs it up pretty thoroughly every twenty-four hours, too.

The only way that I have found to cut down on it is, unfortunately, to vacuum every day. This isn't a thorough vacuuming, just doing what Cheryl Mendelson calls "the middle of the floor" - the parts where you walk, and perhaps passing over any furniture that's especially hairy with the pet hair attachment or poking into any corners that seem to be fur magnets. Depending on how your apartment is laid out, you may be able to do it without even unplugging the vacuum, and it only takes about ten minutes. It sounds like a pain, but it's just part of our routine now - something that I can take care of while my partner is getting the mail, doing the dishes, etc.

The bedroom (and the closets/drawers inside) are also off-limits to the cat, which obviously helps as far as bedding and clothes are concerned. I get that this is not possible in every household, but it definitely cuts down on the need to sticky-roll every item of clothing before leaving the house.

On preview: "Everything that can't be washed has to be covered in something that can be washed." - yes, this, too. We don't cover everything, but the backs/seats of couches that seem to be the cat's go-to spots have throws on them that can be washed (or just hidden from company) as needed.
posted by Austenite at 10:08 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised no one has mentioned an air filter! I run an air filter which gets (I think) a lot of the cat hair out of the air.

Actually, you can probably rig up a nice cheap one with a box fan and a foam mat that is only dense enough to grab cat hair. I run fans a lot and it's incredible how much cat hair gets stuck inside the fans themselves - I'm sure a foam filter would grab a TON as well!
posted by rebent at 10:54 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hooray, this means it's almost summer! They are shedding their winter coats. Time for a buzzing for them both; they will be more comfortable. We also run our Neato once a week and that helps keep the dust/hair bunnies to a minimum.

Very curious to try the air filter!
posted by Sayuri. at 12:37 PM on June 2, 2014

Put face wipes in every room. Don't rub your nose or eyes without washing your hands first, and if you do, have compact magnifying mirrors to get fur out of said orifices. The humidity and sweat of summer will make fur stick to your face.
posted by serena15221 at 12:49 PM on June 2, 2014

Nthing the lion cut. Works like a charm, and our cat loved it.
posted by ravioli at 1:49 PM on June 2, 2014

Although I've never been blessed with one, youtube tells me there are cats that don't mind being vacuumed. Maybe you've gotten lucky and yours are among them?

(Oh, how I tried to get that Maine Coon to make friends with Uncle Vacuum. Nothing doing. She did looove Uncle Zoom Groom, but Auntie Monster had to wear a surgical mask while she was brushing.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:23 PM on June 2, 2014

A robot vac--or even two!--will make a huge difference. Turn them on before you leave for work. Air filter--make sure you clean it monthly. Make sure your air returns and furnace filters get changed. Nthing sheets to cover everything. Change from your work clothes to 'play clothes' before handling the cats.

Robot vac and lion cuts would make biggest difference.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:42 PM on June 4, 2014

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