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Is Your Cat Afraid of the Vacuum Cleaner?

is your cat afraid of the vacuum cleaner

The vacuum cleaner is something that is brought out of the closet on a regular basis in most homes. For some cats, this is no big deal but for many, fear of the vacuum cleaner can trigger total panic. Even if a cat has lived in the home with that dreaded vacuum cleaner year after year, the sight and/or sound of it can continue to trigger fearful reactions.

Why are Many Cats Afraid of the Vacuum?

The loud sound, along with the movement can be very frightening. From a cat’s point of view, this monster goes on a rampage around the house, following him from room to room. In many cases, cats end up feeling trapped because they may be sleeping or hiding in a particular room and then someone comes in with the vacuum, blocking the escape route.cats afraid of vacuum cleaners

How Can You Help Your Cat to not Fear the Vacuum?

If you have a kitten, desensitizing him to the sound and presence of the vacuum in a gradual and non-scary way will greatly increase your chances of raising him into an adult cat who won’t have negative reactions on cleaning day. With kittens, gradual exposure to sights and sounds will be beneficial in helping them become less-reactive and fearful as adults.

If your cat is an adult and is already afraid of the vacuum, you can still desensitize him to its presence but he may always remain somewhat concerned whenever it gets too close to him. You don’t have to get to the point of having your cat sleep totally undisturbed while you vacuum just inches from him, but it will greatly lower his anxiety level if you can at least get to the point where he doesn’t hide under the bed in total panic.cat hates the vacuum

The Technique

Step One: The first step involves merely leaving the vacuum cleaner out. If you’re dealing with an adult cat, then just this first step will be scary enough at first. Leave the vacuum out and reward your cat for being in the room with it. Reward him for walking by it. Reward him for walking closer to it. Reward him for sniffing it. I use clicker training for this process but you can easily do it by just rewarding the cat for not running away when the vacuum is out.

One comment

  1. My cats are three years old now, and they’ve both been terrified of hairdryers since day one. The female, Pixie, is a very independent and courageous cat and if the hair dryer is on, and she’s sitting on the chair the far end of the room, she’ll stay there, even though she’s obviously very unhappy about the situation. Theo, on the other hand, has always been a very… strange cat. He’s not often -scared- by things; very laid back and placid, but goes floppy when you pick him up, and rolls in submission if he sees anyone approaching.

    He sits on my lap when I’m playing guitar – the sound going straight into his ears – you can’t get him to move – however, at the mere -sight- of the hairdryer, his ears are flat and he’s hiding. I’ve tried leaving it on with food and treats in the room, and playing with him afterwards and -while- it’s on, but he won’t do it. I’ve been trying to get him to calm down about it since we got him, but nothing seems to have worked.

    I don’t mind him leaving the room, and it’s okay to be scared of the hairdryer – it’s loud and he’s a cat, with far better hearing than humans, but I hate to see the stress that he’s in. I’ve tried removing him from the room -before- I use the hairdryer, but he’ll sit outside my room meowing and clawing at the carpet to get in, until he hears the hairdryer from the other side of the door and freaks out again. He stays anxious for a good while afterwards.

    He doesn’t mind the vacuum at all. Could something be causing this? Is there anything I can do to fix it? He hates to be away from human company, but he hates the hairdryer -more-!

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