Why Your Cat Is Afraid Of The Vacuum

Does your cat freak out any time you turn on the vacuum?

While it can be amusing to watch our pets scramble for safety from something so mundane, why are cats even afraid of the vacuum in the first place?

Cats are afraid of the vacuum because of the loud noises that it makes. Because they evolved as small mammals, they have a natural fear of anything that is large and loud. It’s possible through proper training for your cat to become desensitized to the sound of a vacuum cleaner.

Vacuum cleaners make it easy to clean up your cat’s hair on the carpet and furniture, but the loud noise is unavoidable, and your cat may seem like it suffers when you try to vacuum your home.

Our own cats used to be terrified of the vacuum but over time they’ve grown accustom to the noise. They still don’t like it when the vacuum gets too close to them, however.

Read on to find out more about why your cat fears vacuums and ways to make your cat feel more comfortable whenever it’s time to vacuum.

How Vacuums Can Scare Your Cat

Vacuum cleaners have electric motors that create powerful sucking power, making it possible to remove cat hair and dander from your floors and furniture.

The drawback is the loud noise that can scare your cat.

Your cat might seem like the perfect domestic pet, but their ancestors are from the wild.

Something as big and loud as a vacuum, compared to a cat’s size, will register as a threat to them. They fear being attacked by the vacuum because of the loud noise and the way you push the vacuum around.

The method of vacuuming requires you to push and pull until you have covered all of the floors. This sporadic movement can cause your cat to think the vacuum might be trying to attack them.

They can be on the opposite side of the room from the exit and feel trapped by the vacuum. It can only take one stressful event with the vacuum and the cat will be traumatized.

Below is a list of ways to help make your cat feel more comfortable around the vacuum cleaner.

How To Make Your Cat More Comfortable Around The Vacuum

It’s never nice to see your cat panicking at the sight of the vacuum—not only because we love our cats, but because stress can lead to bad behavior.

There are ways to make your cat feel less stressed when it’s time to clean the house.

Desensitizing Your Cat By Gradual Exposure

It’s possible to make your cat fully accustomed to being around the vacuum by introducing it slowly to the sound and presence of the vacuum.

This can be done with young or adult cats with the same method. It’s generally easiest when the cat is young, but you can be fully successful with an adult cat.

To get your cat desensitized to the vacuum itself, simply leave the vacuum turned off and sitting in a room so your cat can see it. Whenever he or she passes by it or investigates, give them a treat.

This will get them used to being around it but desensitizing to the noise of the vacuum takes a little more work.

But first: training cats is trickier than dogs. Cats can be picky, so it’s important to choose a treat that is something they love and are willing to work for.

Here are some helpful tips in picking out a good training treat for your cat:

  1. Nutrition – It is best to avoid processed cat treats and instead look for treats with as few ingredients as you can find. This will help your cat be healthy.
  2. Size – Make sure you buy the correct size of cat treat for the size of your cat. It is important to pick out the right size treat so you will not overfeed your cat.
  3. Taste – You will want to choose a treat that makes your cat crave more. This will help you cat obey your commands and make training easier.

The reward system should slowly make your cat comfortable around the vacuum. Instead of seeing it as a threat, they will begin to see it in a more positive way.

After they become accustomed to the presence of the vacuum you must introduce them to the sound.

Desensitizing Cats To The Sound Of A Vacuum

The sound of the vacuum is terrifying to most cats. If you desensitize them to the noise, they will become comfortable enough with it that you can vacuum the hair right off their bodies.

The most important part of this process is gradually making your cat comfortable with the noise.

Here is the training process to make your cat comfortable with the noise of a vacuum cleaner:

  • Make sure your cat is as far away in your home as possible from the vacuum. Make sure it will still be able to hear the vacuum.
  • Turn on the vacuum and leave it running and go back to where you left your cat.
  • Offer your cat one of his or her favorite treats. If they do not want the treat, then just try to gently pet your cat.
  • Once your cat is comfortable at this distance, start to bring the vacuum closer and closer repeating the process until your cat is comfortable with you vacuuming.

The process of training a cat to be scared of the vacuum cleaner can be more difficult for some cats than others. If you stick with the process, though, you will see results in your cat’s behavior.

If your cat does not respond to the training, there are other ways to make your cat more comfortable with the vacuum cleaner.

Provide Your Cat with A Place To Climb Up

Most cat owners know what happens when you click the vacuum on: the cat leaps out of its peaceful nap and dashes to the refrigerator, getting as high off the ground as it can. But why?

Your cat has a natural inclination to climb up to safety. This is deeply rooted into their ancestry where wild cats would climb trees when they feel threatened.

A great way to make your cat feel safe around the vacuum cleaner is to provide it with a cat climbing structure. They are made to be easily climbed by a cat and will provide a sense of safety to them.

A climbing structure can greatly improve your cat’s sense of wellbeing when it is time to vacuum the floor.

Letting Your Cat Outside Or Into Another Room

Another option to help make your cat more comfortable when you’re vacuuming is just to let them outside or as far from the vacuum as possible.

This will let your cat feel that they are away from the danger.

If you let them outside, make sure you have a fenced yard or know your cat will not wander away.

Your cat’s attitude will change quickly once it is away from the vacuum, like playing in the yard. Even leaving the cat in another room will allow the cat to feel safer.

You don’t want your cat to feel stressed when all you are trying to do is clean up. It’s important you provide a safe place for your cat when you want to vacuum, too much stress on a cat can lead to bad behavior.


The vacuum cleaner can be very stressful to your cat because they feel their lives are in danger.

A stressed cat can experience many negative health conditions. If your cat has pre-existing health problems these can be made worse by a stressful environment.

This anxiety can lead to bad behaviors including litter box avoidance, clawing furniture, and a threatening attitude.

Make sure you do your best to provide your cat with a healthy stress-free environment, and that includes understanding why they are afraid of the vacuum and what you can do to help them.