Why Do Cats Hate Vacuums?

Why Do Cats Hate Vacuums

A vacuum cleaner is an essential household machine that uses suction to remove dust and debris from drapery, upholstery and floors. Although it is a necessity in every home, it proves a bane for most cats. Vacuums produce a loud sound that often startles and frightens cats.

Why do cats hate vacuums?

1. Your cat has not been exposed to it before. 

Most cats do not have the slightest idea what this large, loud object is. They resent it because it seems to chase them around the house while making a disturbing sound. Felines that are not exposed to the machine early in life are likely to react negatively to it. 

2. Your cat has had a negative experience with a vacuum in the past. 

Cats tend to be skittish and have timid personalities. They startle easily and sudden movements could cause them stress. Your cat may have been startled by a vacuum in the past, which would have traumatized it. This may explain why it hates vacuums and cowers in fear when it hears them. 

3. It may depend on your cat’s temperament and personality. 

Cats have unique characters and temperaments, and some are more timid and fearful than others. Some tend to be more scared of loud noises like fireworks and thunder. A vacuum cleaner’s noise could be too much for some cats but not as frightening for others. 

Cats may also hate vacuums because they feel that these machines are following them from room to room. They may also feel trapped, since they could be sleeping in a room and when someone comes in with the vacuum their escape route becomes blocked. 

Felines have a superior sense of hearing, and what seems a normal volume for humans is many times magnified for cats. Vacuums produce loud sounds which cats generally find unbearable. They are also close to the ground, a posture which resembles attack mode for cats. 

Some cats may develop an extreme phobia of vacuums. If your cat is cowering under the bed, shaking uncontrollably and in great distress, take it to the vet. Severe stress and anxiety could cause health issues, so have it checked by the vet for prompt treatment.

Nevertheless, just because most cats hate vacuums does not mean that all of them do. Some cats have been used to the noise and presence of vacuums since they were kittens. This explains why they remain calm despite the vacuum’s loud noise. 

Strategies to reduce your cat’s fear of vacuums 

  1. Leave the vacuum cleaner near your cat after you turn it off, and reward the cat with treats for staying in the same room. Leave the vacuum there for a few days and also move it to other rooms, but be sure not to leave it too close to your cat’s eating or sleeping quarters, or its litter box. 
  2. Turn the vacuum on while the cat is in a different room. Have someone run the cleaner while you stay with your cat. Reward it with treats for staying calm and relaxed. 
  3. As soon as you ascertain that your pet is comfortable with the sound of the vacuum, try to switch it on while in the same room with your cat. The vacuum should face away from the cat. Reward your cat with treats if it does not leave the room. 
  4. Finally, run the vacuum normally around the room and have treats ready to reward your cat for good behavior. 

Other sounds that cats hate: 

  • Hissing sounds, such as aerosol sprays and rustling paper bags.
  • High-frequency sounds such as computer and TV screens or remote controls.
  • Short, abrupt sounds, such as the sound of a whistle or doorbell. 
  • Loud sounds like thunder, motorbikes, sirens and drills. 


Cats tend to be skittish and have timid personalities. While not all cats share the same temperament, many startle easily and are prone to anxiety. Felines hate vacuums because of the loud noise they make as they move around the house. They may also hate vacuums because of past negative experiences.  

Image: istockphoto.com / Kiwis