Do you ever wonder why your cat flees the scene when you bring out the vacuum cleaner?
Thanks to a severe shortage of closet space, my vacuum cleaner sits tucked in a corner. Clancy, our kitten ignores it. Darby, our black as night ninja cat, walks warily around his arch nemesis even when it’s unplugged. Every now and then, he’ll actually get brave enough to run up and whap it — but only if it’s turned off. The moment I plug it in, he flees for his life like he’s starring in a disaster movie.
A love/hate relationship
The internet is full of videos of cats versus vacuum cleaners. If you’re interested, the Huffington Post put together a highlight reel of their favorites.
Some cats are so unintimidated that they’ll actually ride the machines while their owners use them. Others, like my Darby, are terrified. In fact, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals actually suggests owners use the noise of the vacuum to help break a cat of the habit of waking them at night.
What’s not to like?
For those cats that hate the vacuum, most experts speculate that it’s the noise that terrifies them. Cat behavior expert Pam Johnson-Bennett, star of the television show “Psycho Kitty,” suggests that cats see the vacuum as a rampaging monster prowling through their territory and chasing them from room to room. She points out that cats may feel trapped when someone begins vacuuming a room where they’ve been sleeping. Catster’s Angela Lutz says that “my cats clearly believe the device is a Dementor from ‘Harry Potter.’ They are unable to summon an effective Patrounus because they suck at magic, so they just run.”
What can I do?
Pam Johnson-Bennett, pet-happy.com and petmoz.com all offer strategies you can use to try to desensitize your scaredy cat to the vacuum cleaner.
Personally, I figure we’re all entitled to a few irrational fears. Darby doesn’t mock me for my mild claustrophobia, so I’m not going to bother him about his vacuum vexation. I just make sure he’s in a different room before I start vacuuming.
Want to read more about why cats do the things they do?
Why Does My Cat Hide?
Why Does My Cat Make That Face?
Why Does My Cat Trip Me?
Why Does My Cat Try and Dash Out the Door?