Olga and the Vacuum: How I Helped Her Cope


Although she can tolerate thunderstorms and bad music, Olga isn’t fond of the vacuum cleaner and is not alone. Most cats seem terrified of it. However, over the years, she’s become less fearful of vacuuming and doesn’t hide like she used to. She still cowers under the couch when my neighbors set off fireworks, but the vacuum cleaner isn’t as scary to her. Most cat owners are unlikely to convince their felines to enjoy vacuuming, and until someone invents a silent model, we can only help them tolerate the loud machine.

Olga’s Reaction to Vacuuming as a Young Cat

Olga is seven years old, and when I adopted her, she was still a kitten. It took several years before she could stay in the same room when I was vacuuming, and she used to run as soon as I switched it on. Sometimes, when I turned the vacuum cleaner off to move something, she would swipe at the cord dangling from the outlet.

I don’t think she realized that destroying the cord would damage the machine and prevent it from frightening her, but she hated it so much that she was merely taking out her aggression on the cord. When my Siamese cat tore up the cord, I had to repair my old vacuum with electrical tape.
Homes are full of loud appliances and machines, but the vacuum is particularly annoying to cats. Its motor is louder than most indoor machines, and the suction power is so strong that it blows the curtains around when it passes by.

How I Helped Olga Cope (and Ways You May Be Able to Help a Cat Who’s Scared of the Vacuum)

Olga thinking about getting closer to the vacuum
Olga thinking about getting closer to the vacuum while it is not in motion…

I discovered that turning the vacuum on in another room was better than starting it near Olga. It’s less threatening to her when the noisy machine isn’t near her when it’s running. I also followed my veterinarian’s advice and left the vacuum cleaner in the living room for a few days instead of storing it in the closet. However, it’s best to ensure the cord is wrapped up and secure, or your cat may try to damage it.
After realizing it wouldn’t come to life and tear around the house, Olga built enough courage to examine it. Now, when I vacuum, she sits on a chair or couch and watches it closely but does not run and hide.

Olga’s Other Fears and How I Try to Help

Olga dislikes the sound of ice cube trays being emptied and the sound of garbage bags when you open them up. I tried a technique I used to get her accustomed to nail trimming, and it seems to have helped. When she becomes anxious or gives me her “I’m annoyed” meow, I say, “It’s okay, Olga,” and if she doesn’t run away, I give her a treat.

Now, I say, “It’s okay,” when she starts to run as I pull out a garbage bag, and she stops. I no longer give her the tasty reward, but she’s less afraid of garbage bags and ice cubes and no longer hides. What you say to your cat to comfort them isn’t important, but using a higher-pitched, positive tone seems to help.

Olga and Christopher sitting on the chair

If you have a cat that is scared of the vacuum, or scared of other things, we recommend the following readings to help you and your kitty cope:

If you have any ways you have helped your cat cope with the vacuum, we’d love if you could share your tips and tricks in the Facebook comment section to help other cat owners and their feline friends.



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About the Author: Tony Ramos

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