May 16, 2007 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Cat fur is killing me.

I groom them. I own a frillion lint rollers. I brush them regularly. I swiffer like it's my job.

But still, the excess fur from three (kill me) cats is more than I can stand. The last straw was taking my comforter fresh from the dryer and seeing a coating of cat fur encrusting it.

Yuck. And also, HELP!
posted by Space Kitty to Pets & Animals (39 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Do you bathe them?

Lots of people say that bathing is unnecessary, but it SIGNIFICANTLY reduces shed and dander (it also gives you a legit excuse to exact payback on the little furburts for past indiscretions!)
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:47 AM on May 16, 2007

I had this problem years ago. I finally decided that, while I love cats, I'm not really a cat person in the sense of actually having a cat in the house.
posted by The World Famous at 10:53 AM on May 16, 2007

Shave. Your. Cats.
posted by baphomet at 10:54 AM on May 16, 2007 [3 favorites]

Shave. Your. Cats.
posted by baphomet

Seriously. We had this done to our long haired cat a few summers ago when he became hopelessly matted. It took a couple of days to get used to his look, but we ended up really liking it after awhile and it cut down on the shedding amazingly. The groomer left his head and neck alone, so he had this great ruff. He also left his fluffy tail and his legs but getting rid of so much fur on his body was great. Unfortunely, the other cat in the house NEVER got used to him, and to this day is still wary of him. If you got all three of yours done at once, maybe you wouldn't have this problem.
posted by jvilter at 11:02 AM on May 16, 2007

They shed a lot when the weather starts to warm up... it might get a little better - but not much. I feel your pain. I keep mine out of the bedroom & the guest room. I shave the furriest one, it's lovely - no more cat-hair tumbleweeds blowing across the floors. I also use a shop-vac to clean - sucks everything right up.
posted by Alpenglow at 11:03 AM on May 16, 2007

A really thorough vacuuming every few weeks (moving all the furniture, getting the baseboards, etc.) helps. Consider getting an air purifer with a fan and filter, and if the air in your house is very dry, a humidifer as well. Try to be sure you're using a good washer to clean your clothes and bedding (if you're using a laundromat, for instance, try a different one with bigger or newer machines), and use Bounce sheets in the dryer. I think a lot of lint, and fur, comes off in the dryer.

It's probably better not to shave the cats. You could try feeding them a higher-quality food if they are shedding excessively.
posted by bchaplin at 11:03 AM on May 16, 2007

Do your cats lounge on your bed when you're not there? My mom keeps an old sheet over her bed/comforter during the day, and puts an old wool skirt on it (since cats--or at least ours--like wool), so the cat fur ends up on the skirt/sheet instead.

Maybe you could do a similar thing with a polarfleece blanket on top of the old sheet. Those things are lint/cat-hair magnets, so if the cats spend enough time on them, they might collect a good amount of the hair.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:04 AM on May 16, 2007

Oh, sorry jvilter. I somehow missed seeing your 2nd paragraph and thought that was a joke. If you used a professional groomer I'm sure it was fine; it's just not the kind of thing you want to try at home.
posted by bchaplin at 11:05 AM on May 16, 2007

Also, have you seen this: vacuum cat?
posted by jvilter at 11:05 AM on May 16, 2007

Put "cat blankets" (old towels, whatever) on places where they like to hang out... and give them rubbing posts which grab the fur up. This isn't a 100% solution, but it really does help (apparently shedding annoys them as much as it does you, so if you give them places to self-groom they'll try and get as much off as possible).
posted by anaelith at 11:10 AM on May 16, 2007

Indeed bchaplin, the only reason we haven't done it every summer since was because I felt so guilty about the bandaids on the groomers hands when I went to pick the cat up. Instead, he will let me brush him sometimes and I can also manage to clip out the clumps most of the time. He looks pretty ratty by the end of summer.
posted by jvilter at 11:16 AM on May 16, 2007

anaelith's cat blanket method is what I use. And I've also realized that as long as I have them, there will be fur...and puke... and scratched furniture. I've come to terms with this and will probably not own nice things until after kitty jesus calls them home.
posted by birdherder at 11:18 AM on May 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I don't know, maybe three cats is too many to have?
posted by xmutex at 11:21 AM on May 16, 2007

You could try feeding them a higher-quality food if they are shedding excessively.

Seconded -- adding a nightly can of wet food to my cats' diets (they previously ate just dry food) totally got rid of their dandruff, made them shed somewhat less, and made their coats very very shiny and sleek.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:21 AM on May 16, 2007

Two (thankfully shorthaired) cats here; I use a combination of cat blankets, corner combs, near-obsessive vacuuming, and lint rollers purchased in bulk.

I still walk out of the house with at least one cat hair on the front of my shirt.
posted by jamaro at 11:26 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Three cats. Pfffft! We had, at one point, five cats (three people) - that's a lot of fur.

Now we're back down to three (two moved out with their helper monkey), and it seems like just as much fur. We cover the (velvet - d'oh!) couch/chairs with fleece blankets, which the cats love; we vacuum - one cat actually really likes to be vacuumed - and otherwise, we just acknowledge that our lives are covered in fur. We try not to let anyone leave the house if they have a big patch of fur on the seat of their pants, and there are some fleece jackets that I can only wear in the house, but really, there's no controlling it without getting rid of the cats. And that's out of the question.
posted by rtha at 11:30 AM on May 16, 2007

I went to the pet store for a new shedding brush the other day and they tried to sell me on Lipiderm, an additive for their water that supposedly reduces shedding by 90%. Does anyone know about this product? It doesn't sound right to me.
posted by LarryC at 11:32 AM on May 16, 2007

I'm considering buying a Roomba for this very reason - I can't handle the fur anymore. If the place got vacuumed twice a day it might be manageable. I'll let you know how it goes.

I think a polarfleece blanket on top of your bed when you're not in it is genius - that stuff is like its own lint roller for cat fur. I was just using a throw, but this sounds erally much better.
posted by tristeza at 11:34 AM on May 16, 2007

A Roomba does wonders in keeping the hair manageable if you use it every day or every other day.
posted by agent99 at 11:53 AM on May 16, 2007

Have you got a rake?
posted by acro at 11:58 AM on May 16, 2007

Vacuum early, vacuum often.

Also, we've had good success by creating some "poor-man's HEPA filters": go to Home Depot and buy a couple of box fans and 20x20x1" furnace filters, of the good pleated-paper variety, and a couple 36" bungee cords. You just strap the filters to the back of the box fans, and run them on low, wherever the cats spend a lot of time, and particularly right after you vacuum.

It's amazing how much cat fur will be trapped on the filter after a few weeks or even days of doing this.

(Just to be clear, they're not really HEPA filters...but they did the job for us.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:03 PM on May 16, 2007

I've vacuumed my cat for years now. Learnt it from my gramma.

To acclimate them, start with the round brush and pet them with it. Then attach the hose to the brush and do it again for a few days. Then add a running vacuum in the room, not attached, for a few days. Finally, hook up the vacuum, with the little venty thing open. You may like to switch to the upholstery brush to prevent it from suctioning to the feline.
posted by kc0dxh at 12:16 PM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Lots of recomendations for vacuuming the cat. Flickr HOWTO. (cat+vacuum) /YCMV
posted by acro at 12:24 PM on May 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

The zoom groom brush thingy seems to pull more of the undercoat out than a lot of other brushes.
posted by desuetude at 12:26 PM on May 16, 2007

Second the zoom groom. Using a brush with metal teeth picks up some hair, using the zoom groom picks up TONS of hair.
I don't like the Flickr HOWTO above, you should never hold a full grown cat by their scruff. Of course I also vacuum Princess twice a day. Second high quality cat food, made a ton of difference for shedding/gloss.
posted by Ferrari328 at 12:42 PM on May 16, 2007

The Love Glove. Bad name, good product. One cat loves it, one hates it. Luckily, it's the long-haired cat that loves it.
posted by peep at 12:51 PM on May 16, 2007

Wow! Clearly I'm not alone. Thanks to everyone for your answers!
posted by Space Kitty at 1:06 PM on May 16, 2007

i've got three cats and two rabbits, so i feel your pain... the dust bunnies in our house are sometimes bigger than the real bunnies. thankfully our dog is naturally hairless (Xoloitzcuintle), so we get a break there.

just wanted to mention two things, as a former groomer. one, if you ever find the need to trim your cat's fur with scissors (and it's really best that you don't), please be careful to slide the teeth of a metal comb under the mat or whatever you want to cut off so you avoid cutting the cat's skin. i had a customer once bring me their cat after they had tried cutting the hair off with scissors, and they literally cut a hole the size of a quarter on its side because they couldn't see where the hair stopped and skin started.

the other is if you decide to try bathing your cat, a couple of old groomer's tricks are to either make a wooden frame (about 2 ft x 2.5 ft, with 2x2" wood) and staple sturdy wire mesh (not chicken wire) or metal window screen on one side. lean this frame against one side of your bathtub and plop the cat on the frame -- most cats will hang on for dear life, allowing you to hose them down with a sprayer and give them a good bath. the water and soap will go right through the screen.

another bathing tactic is to wrap masking tape around each paw before bathing -- the cat ends up wondering what the heck is going on with the tape and often becomes submissive, and the claws are covered up enough to keep you from being shredded during the bath. by the time you've gotten most of the cat bathed, you can usually remove the tape one paw at a time so you can do those as well.
posted by doplgangr at 1:11 PM on May 16, 2007

Just thirding the Roomba -- I've only got one cat, but every time I run the Roomba in a room in my house, it picks up a tennis-ball-sized clump of cat fur, even on a floor that had looked fairly clean to me. (This doesn't help with couches, but it's a start.)
posted by lisa g at 1:39 PM on May 16, 2007

For my feline fuzzball I use a flea comb for ordinary grooming. It is meticulous and thorough. I do this outside and follow with petting with moist hands. I have to remoisten several times as my hands get coated in cat hair. Nth-ing the old towel for cat blankets.
posted by Listener at 2:35 PM on May 16, 2007

I love the Lint Wizard. It's a lintbrush on a roller, with two opposite directions of lint-collection. You brush one way, flip a switch, and brush the other way. The hair or lint from the side of the roller you're flipped away from is collected in a bin in the back. It works like magic on my velvet upholstery and drapes, but not as well on less plush materials. For $10 though, it's a worthwhile alternative to the endless lintroller sheets I used to use. I bought mine at Bed Bath and Beyond.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:35 PM on May 16, 2007

nthing vacuum, vacumm, vacuum -- and brushing. One hesitation, though, on the blanket material. Yes, Polarfleece is a cat hair magnet; but it doesn't release it either, so the blanket ends up permanently 1) covered in cat hair and 2) double-warmth. I'd suggest the also-comfortable-to-cats Vellux material, which does seems to release the hair.

How do I know? I have an unusable Polarfleece blanket (used over the duvet for maybe four months, washed repeatedly during that time) that is only suitable for padding furniture the next time a friend moves, and my cats are lounging on a (washed and fur-free) Vellux blanket covering the couch right now :)
posted by vers at 2:54 PM on May 16, 2007

On the laundry-end of things, using old-fashioned liquid fabric softener rather than dryer sheets can make huge difference, especially in the dry static-clingy climate it looks like you live in. Most of the fur will slip off into the rinse cycle in the washer, and what's left will come off in the dryer much better, plus new fur won't stick to the comforter or sheet or pants as easily.

Try taking a slightly damp terry towel or large sponge and wipe it firmly across any upholstered furniture, or even along a carpet. That can break the static bond and pick up fur that a roller or vacuum is leaving behind.
posted by tula at 3:19 PM on May 16, 2007

I posted a related query last summer.

I have found that you need to brush things like duvets with one of those one-way line brushes before washing. It's easy to think the washer will remove the fur, but it doesn't. The more you can brush off, the less fur to distribute into the wash water.
posted by zadcat at 4:15 PM on May 16, 2007

er, one-way lint brushes.
posted by zadcat at 4:16 PM on May 16, 2007

These are some damned useful answers. I wish I were more handy so I could consider the Hepa Filter of Doom, or (god help me) bathing the cats- but sadly, that would take a braver woman than me.

Thanks to everyone who posted, I'll let you know which ones work the best!

(PS. Anybody wanna buy a roomba? I don't think it actually works that well on cat hair...)
posted by Space Kitty at 4:35 PM on May 16, 2007

I'm considering buying a Roomba for this very reason

Wouldn't the cat go batty trying to chase the Roomba?
posted by radioamy at 8:13 AM on May 17, 2007

Oh also, if you can get the cat to handle vacuuming, it might help a lot. My mom vacuums her horses and it helps a lot with the excess hair.
posted by radioamy at 8:15 AM on May 17, 2007

Wouldn't the cat go batty trying to chase the Roomba?

For limited datapoints, my two (young) cats are utterly horrified by the Roomba and high-tail it out of the area whenever its on.

The dog, however, tries to maul it and thus has to be banished to the yard during Roomba-time.

My Roomba is meh on pet hair. It might be due to the kind of carpet we have (berber), the length of fur (short) or some other unknown factor(s).
posted by jamaro at 11:28 AM on May 17, 2007

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