there is cat hair _everywhere_
January 21, 2020 6:54 PM   Subscribe

I am having cat hair problems. Please help! Way too much detail within.

I have a long haired cat (one, two), and while she is an absolute joy in my life, my goodness the seemingly endless amount of her _hair_ that's getting on everything is becoming more difficult to deal with every day.

Her hair manifests itself in two forms - in long wisps, and in small matted balls, both of which are sticking to everything in the house. For those of you that have dealt with and conquered this problem - what are you doing? And what am I doing wrong?

1) clothes - I'm using a lint roller, but it's not super effective, and on black colored items the hair is very noticeable. I'm noticing that the hair sticks to some kinds of clothes but not others - are some materials better for getting cat hair to not stick to them? I'm finding I have to lint roll every morning before going out, is there any way in which I can get that down to maybe two or three times a week?

2) furniture / bedding - the small matted balls stick to my comforter like there is no tomorrow. Every week I spend upwards of two hours sitting there and hand picking the balls off of the comforter. Again I'm wondering if this has to do with the material of the comforter, but even using the lint roller aggressively here doesn't get everything (the hair sticks to the comforter more than the roller unless I press down hard and repeatedly go over everything, and at that point it's easier to just pick it off by hand) so I still have to do most of it manually.

3) rugs - I'm finding that the vacuum cleaner doesn't get everything (it will tend to get the wisps and not the matted balls) so I'm still having to pick the rugs by hand maybe once every two weeks. I have considered getting a robot vacuum but the house has lots of nooks and cranies and I'm not sure how well it handles rugs, and plus this will not help with the non-floor surfaces right?

4) the cat herself - I'm currently brushing her twice a week, but I'm wondering if maybe that's not enough. She doesn't really love being brushed so I try to do it whenever she lets me. Every time there is a small handful of hair left on the brush when I brush, but it doesn't seem to lessen the hair that's left on everything else.

I will grateful accept any product recommendations and tips, tricks, as well as suggestions for routines to follow that makes cleaning cat hair a bit less tedious. I will also more grudgingly accept you telling me that this is the way life will be from now on and that human ingenuity has not solved the cat hair problem yet.
posted by dragonfruit to Pets & Animals (26 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Try these silicone "Cars Furniture Carpet Clothes Sofa Cleaner" brushes. (Hollow rectangular prisms with silicone nubs on the outside.)

She doesn't really love being brushed so I try to do it whenever she lets me.
My older pair didn't care for the "Furminator" tools, which didn't work with their superfine long hair. They, and my newer pair, like the hard plastic shampoo/scalp massage brushes. (It's a palm grip brush, rather than the usual sort. Cheap as anything.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:15 PM on January 21, 2020

Part of it is just having a long-haired cat. Fur will get everywhere, despite your best efforts.

You can make a big dent in it by brushing your cat daily. Use a deshedding tool, like this one and then finish with a comb. The deshedding tool pulls out all of that soft, wispy underfur that sticks to everything and floats in the air. I give my cat treats after each brushing and now she tolerates it and will come running if she sees me holding a brush. Start very gently and then work up to more pressure and a longer brushing session - cats have thin, sensitive skin and need to acclimate to brushing.

I use felted wool balls called "woolies" in the dryer and that seems to help a little. More fur ends up in the lint tray.

I use basically every fur-removing tool under the sun on my clothes and furniture and they're a lot of work and don't really help long term. The red velvety mitt or tool I find the best for cloth upholstered furniture. I have folded towels on my bed and couch and the cat likes to sit on those. That helps a lot, too.
posted by Feminazgul at 7:45 PM on January 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

3 cats here. I am a crap housekeeper in general but these are my strategies...

I was against the robot vacuum for many years. I just caved and got a Roomba and it’s wonderful. Does my tile and carpeted floors just fine. It has little brushes that gets most of the nooks and crannies, at least on non-carpeted floors. It’s definitely picking up significant cat hair (i empty the bin each time it runs) but it’s not as great as my Dyson pet stick vacuum. Which I will buy again the second this one dies.

I’ve tried every cat hair removal trick in the book. When push comes to shove for everything but clothes the best thing is still running a damp hand over the affected fabric, the rubbing my hands to ball up the hair and dispose. Repeat as necessary. Note this also works on the cat itself for loose hair collection.

When faced with a fabric choice that the cats have influence on, I always pick microfiber.
posted by cgg at 7:58 PM on January 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

First of all—what a beautiful cat! So much FLOOF!

Have you tried grooming your cat with a Furminator? The one I linked is specifically for long haired cats. I use one with my cat and it’s AMAZING how much fur/undercoat it removes—almost enough to build another cat! My cat loves it when I use it and I definitely notice less shedding after using it.
posted by bookmammal at 8:01 PM on January 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Furminator is brought up on the green so much we should be sponsored.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:05 PM on January 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

The ear tufts! The paws! The tail floof! Is that a Maine Coon or a Norwegian Forest cat?
Obviously, you need to wear lots of orange. I know, having had two orange tabbies in my life -- the color clashes with everything. I just went with it.
Male orange tabbies are the Oscar Madisons of the cat world. This is your cousin parked on the sofa for the weekend with beer and chicken wings and the remote control.
My lilac-tortie long-haired cat was another who managed to get contrasting color on everything. Again, I figured there were two types of people: those with pets, and those who obsessed about shedding.

I'd either find a couple of zippered covers for the comforter and switch them out periodically (is static an issue?) or get something that is less of a hair magnet. Flannel and fleece and suede and velvet have a texture which can hold onto debris. A silk or satin or polished cotton will still get hair on it, but it is easier to remove.
One technique is using cheap tape wrapped around the hand, sticky side out. Blot the fabric and permanently capture the hairs. This should not leave a sticky film on the fabric.
Lint rollers can work (as you know), but they may only brush or reposition the hair without removing it.
Sometimes a gentle pet hair vacuum will work. Watch out for missing buttons.

Brushing is proactive. There are pet grooming gloves that combine a good rubdown with shed removal. There are grooming arches and poles that cats can rub against for self grooming.
If your cat likes a particular spot for napping, add a towel or other object that attracts excess hair.
Your vet can give you advise on hairballs (my long-haired cat had more issues).

As long as you are keeping the matting down (watch the underbelly near the legs and tail and the ruff around the neck) then you should be okay. The undercoat is going to build up in cold weather and then shed like crazy, but there is no completely shed-free period. This is the price of having twelve-plus pounds of purring mayhem stalking your ankles each evening.
Of course, some people match their decor and clothing to their cats -- except you are going to look far and wide to find a cat that is really one solid color (most black cats have a white neck locket, many cats have a different undercoat, etc.)
And there is an entire grooming culture around the Spinx and other hairless breeds.
posted by TrishaU at 8:31 PM on January 21, 2020

I find that jeans are pretty good for hiding cat hair. Chinos or dress pants, the opposite.

The biggest thing I note is that you're only brushing twice a week. You really need to go to daily if you want to get the shedding under control. Try different kinds of brushes to see both effectiveness and which the cat will tolerate best. My cat (who is weird so YMMV) doesn't much like being brushed, but she LOVES rubbing her face up against a rubber-tipped hairbrush. So I have one brush for her to rub on and another brush to actually, y'know, brush her while she's distracted.
posted by serelliya at 8:38 PM on January 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

No one has mentioned getting the cat a lion trim and maybe only in summer, but you could consider it. They still shed but the hairs are shorter.

That can also help with mats, which can get bad quickly unless you brush every day.
posted by emjaybee at 8:44 PM on January 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

It’s AMAZING how much fur/undercoat it removes—almost enough to build another cat!
posted by bookmammal

Ah, yes... ten pounds of fur on a seven pound animal. When Snowy (the long-haired Siamese) came in out of the rain it was like, "You shrank!" Then she would have a meal and groom herself and become two sizes too large again.
Lucky (the orange tabby) just looked like he needed a power nap between surfing the waves. This was a very chill cat.
posted by TrishaU at 8:52 PM on January 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

1) I got a knockoff furminator on EBay for like $8 and it works great, if the price is making you flinch.

2) I have designated cat-holding clothes (hoodie, sweat pants, and robe for winter) and don’t touch the cat in work clothes, especially.
posted by momus_window at 9:36 PM on January 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Some fabrics are way worse for cat hair than others. Silky smooth fabrics, like satin and microfibre fabric are pretty good in terms of not getting too much hair sticking to their smooth surfaces. Other fabrics, like velvet, or slightly rough cotton- like many of the cheaper Ikea linens, for instance- are terrible because they have a very subtle roughness that just velcros onto cat hair.

Just get rid of the really hairy fabrics. There's no other way. Life is way better when you aren't matted with fur! I've lived with cats for decades and tried everything.

Some fabrics I know for sure are pretty good and not too much fur will stick to them:
Ikea Dvala bedding- it's cotton, but it's quite smooth and silky.
Ikea Soderhamn sofas, in the yellow, navy, white, or pink microfibre covers. Sadly the teal one isn't the same material- it's more woven and will definitely hold cat fur.
Amazon Basics lightweight microfibre bedding

When I'm considering buying a new fabric object, sometimes I literally rub it against my jeans in the store and then look closely to see if the fabric pulled fur off my clothing. If it did- it's gonna mat and collect hair, so it's not coming home!!

Other strategies:
Get a satiny sheet or curtain and toss it over the sofa or bed when you're away, so the cats can sit on that and it wont collect their fur.
Make sure to hang up your clothes so the cats aren't sitting on things when you're away.
Give the cats proper beds of their own so they don't need to sit on your stuff.
The Furminator comb definitely does work.
Buy like 10 lint rollers (Ikea ones are pretty good). Hang from all doorknobs, keep in car and desk.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 9:45 PM on January 21, 2020 [4 favorites]

momus_window: designated cat-holding clothes
posted by bookmammal at 10:07 PM on January 21, 2020

Yes, nthing cat holding clothes. I have clothing that is only worn at home that either is cat hair resistant or that I don’t mind getting hair on. The clothing I leave the house in is immediately taken off and put away when I return home. This minimizes its exposure to cat hair and there’s less of a chance of those fine hairs getting into the fabric.
posted by Maeve at 10:16 PM on January 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

I know this is extreme and not for everybody, but as a neat freak living with a long-haired cat, I ended up revamping my whole place to get rid of the things that attracted cat hair. This wasn't too hard for me because I'm kind of a minimalist anyway. But my floors now are totally bare (no rugs or carpeting) and my only soft/upholstered furniture is leather. Anything that needs to be fabric is silk, including increasingly my own clothes, because cat hair just slides off it.

It's so much better now! Before, I was spending 90+ minutes every single day going over everything with a hand vac and six different kinds of lint rollers and this crumbly sponge thing and still, there was cat hair everywhere. I had a red wool sofa that was fucking disgusting: no matter what I did, I could not get it clean. Now, I have a roomba that auto-runs daily, plus I hand-vac the non-floor surfaces once every couple of days, and everything is FINE.

I feel like the choices are ultimately pretty stark. You can spend all your time and energy fighting cat hair, you can give up and just get used to it, or you can change the way you live to make things easy to keep clean. Good luck :)
posted by Susan PG at 12:06 AM on January 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh also -- air purifiers also help! I don't think they're necessarily intended to suck in cat hair that's wafting around, but they definitely do: I find it when I change their filters. So that's a good passive tactic :)
posted by Susan PG at 12:11 AM on January 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

An actual lint brush like this one is way better at removing fur from my furniture, you can brush pretty hard and it gets the clumps. Contrary to a previous poster, I have found microfibre (and fluffy polyester blankets) to be one of the worst offenders at holding onto car hair, whereas it easily brushes off velvet. The very best at not getting cat-furry is actually my IKEA linen throw.

Does your vacuum have a brush attachment? Mine you can lower a brush on the head, it brushes the fur out the rug so it can be vaccuumed and I have no issues getting the fur off.

Brushing the cats with a furminator removes loads of fur, but I still have to lint roll my clothes every morning. They come out the wash still covered in fur, I'm told a dryer is way more effective at hair removal but I don't have one.
posted by stillnocturnal at 12:50 AM on January 22, 2020

As much as I [expletive deleted] hate fabric softener, it really does make a difference in terms of how quickly cat hair accumulates on clothing. A tiny amount in the wash and even just half a dryer sheet takes out 95% of it if you have a tumble dryer.

If not (I don't, presently), there will be effort involved even with fabric softener, but it comes off a lot easier both from there being less static cling and because the fabric softener coats the fabric in goo, which keeps the hair from from getting so trapped in the microstructure of the fibers. With this method, most items will brush off relatively easily with nothing more than your hands.
posted by wierdo at 3:16 AM on January 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Make sure that you are not transferring the cat hair back to your clothes when you are doing the laundry. If you walk around stocking footed then one of your issues could be the fuzz getting from the socks onto your other clothes when you do the laundry. Similarly if the cats sleep on a couple of throws on your couch and the throws go into the laundry regularly they could be transferring from the throw onto clothes that don't show the hair much until they start transferring to the furniture themselves.

Nth wet hands as the best hair cleaner.

Many people refuse to have a long haired cat. I know the difference in cat fuzz when we got one was amazing to me. Long term you may want to decided to only go with short hairs in future.

Are you brushing your cat well every day? If you get it at source before it sheds in the house that can help a lot. And it is more fun to spend fifteen minutes a day grooming a blissed out cat, over fifteen minutes dragging the vacuum cleaner around and trying to poke it under furniture.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:27 AM on January 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

I have a white, long haired cat and I wear mostly black so I feel your pain!

Things that have worked for me:
- Dyson Animal vacuum for carpets and fabric. Unfortunately it is very pricey but it is the only vacuum I have found that really works. Might be worth looking for one second-hand.
- Throw blankets on places where she likes to sleep, like the sofa. I just lift them when I want to sit down and throw them in the dryer when they get too hairy.
- Trying to stop the cat sleeping in certain places. This has actually been kind of successful. For example, I leave large cushions on my side of the bed when I'm not in it. When I want to sit down, I move them. There are certain places where she will lie despite my best efforts, in which case:
- Having mostly contrasting (in my case dark) fabrics in my house so that I can see the hair and don't sit on it accidentally. The best way to get hair off sofas etc is using a rubber glove. The hair will just pull off.
- My cat hates being brushed entirely so she sheds A LOT. She rubs against my legs every morning when I feed her and covers my black tights in hair. I find a damp hand brings off most of this hair.

I've had my cat for 8 years and I have accepted some level of hair is just par for the course, but the above tips do help to mitigate it.
posted by drunkonthemoon at 4:29 AM on January 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Fleece is the absolute worst for attracting cat hair.

I have four cats. I go full Mr. Rogers when I get home and change into clothes that never leave the house. Outdoor clothes immediately go on a high shelf or in the hamper. Very hairy clothing is washed separate from outdoor clothes, and I throw balls of aluminum foil in the dryer (which I reuse) which seem to help with removing the hair. Furniture with upholstery that cats might sit on gets covered with cheap cloth covers (the elasticized kind that come all in one piece) unless guests are over. Caveat: I don't have much furniture. Rubber gloves work GREAT for brushing cat hair off of things, better than anything else I've tried. They're cheap enough that it's worth a shot.
posted by schroedinger at 4:46 AM on January 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

I learned about the Muji carpet cleaner in another AskMe and it is the best on my (wool) carpet and ancient couch. It is larger and stickier than any other lint roller type item I have ever used.
posted by wellred at 5:11 AM on January 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

Battleship gets brushed daily, and furminated near weekly, so if your cat will tolerate it, I strongly suggest you start brushing more regularly (it's part of my bedtime routine. I brush my hair, and then the cat gets 5 mins of getting aggressively brushed before bed).

He's particularly sheddy in the shoulder seasons- both when growing in a new coat, and when shedding his winter one. (We go outside for the furminating due to the amount of hair that comes off of him, we used to do it in the bathroom to try to mitigate the floof disaster.)

Additional trick: if you have access to a dryer, we use duvet covers on our comforters and every time we wash blankets or covers comforters , we put them in the dryer first for 15 mins to get the hair off, and then we wash them.

We live and die by our Muji Carpet Cleaner as a lint roller for everything. People, clothing, cat, rugs... IT DOES IT ALL.
posted by larthegreat at 6:26 AM on January 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

N’thing the use of a wire slicker brush. Our Tuxie girl is DSH but with luxuriously, ridiculously plush, dense fur, and she sheds everywhere unless we brush her — several times a day — and then it’s quite manageable. But the thing is she LOVES being brushed. We socialized her from feral using the brush as a calming technique and she grew so attached to it she will often beg for it and even sleeps next to her brush. So for some cats the benefits of brushing go beyond controlling the fur. This technique was so effective on such a scared and skittish and abused young feral cat (she spent her first *three months* with us under a couch, so I’d have to go down there with the brush and food and spend hours with her at first). That’s why I recommend it to anyone with a skittish nervous cat or a new feral adoption. The trick is to let her come to the brush, and rub against it, at first. Don’t be aggressive with it or fast or wave it at her. Just hold it out for her to nose at at first.

We really have very little shedding output to clean up. But if we go away for a day or two and she doesn’t get brushed man it’s everywhere. You could knit a damn sweater every month with the fur we get off the brush.

By the way now she’s a happy, sociable, sweet goofball.
posted by spitbull at 6:30 AM on January 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

Vacuum or swiffer daily, wipe down problem furniture daily, honestly it takes 5 minutes if you keep bedroom doors to less often used rooms shut while you are out of the house. Change your bedding if they sleep in your bed weekly. Change HVAC filter monthly. Fluffing things in the dryer on cool with some dryer balls will get a lot of the hair out of them. Change into around the house clothing when you get home from work/going out & keep your "good" clothes as cat free as possible, so no cats in the closet, no hugs while wearing them, selective color choices & pick "slippery" fabrics that won't hold the hair as firmly.

Lots of tasty special high value treats she only gets while being brushed, throw in tonnes of praise at the same time every time she is unreactive when you brush her.
posted by wwax at 6:33 AM on January 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

I know feeding cats can be a fraught topic, but if your cat is on a dry diet, a switch to wet may noticeably alleviate shedding.
posted by Leona at 9:07 AM on January 22, 2020

Muji Lint Roller Advocate right here- It is the very best cat hair removal device. Easy peel/easy tear paper, perfect degree of stickiness, AND the size of a paint roller so you can cover a lot of surface area fast. I actually keep one hanging on the front door and one in the living room AND one in my bedroom, because you really want to be able to get rid of cat hair without having to go too far.

Muji also makes a travel size lint roller that i keep in my suitcase and at the office for those times when you are like "oh no! I am away from home but i am covered in cat hair somehow"

Also here to vouch for the Furminator and the Dyson Cordless Vaccuum Animal Hair Edition, but the Muji Lint roller changes the game.
posted by wowenthusiast at 8:51 PM on January 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

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