Cat Hair Cleanup

Cat hair cleanup treatments are not one of the joys of feline companionship. Loose hairs cling to any fabric surface they can find and gather in clumps under furniture. Shedding is a fact of life for cats, but that doesn't mean you need to surrender your home to excess hair. As with most cleaning jobs, the secret is to clean before things get out of hand.

Choose Your Breed Carefully
The type of cat you own will affect how much hair you have to deal with. You could always go with a hairless breed, but many cat owners prefer having a soft, purring furball in the house. The American Shorthair and Siamese breeds, with their characteristic short coats, will generate less stray hair than Maine Coon, Persian or other long-haired breeds. You'll still get weekly shedding, but it won't be as bad, except during early spring and late summer when all cats unleash the big shed to prepare for their summer or winter coats.

Invest in a cat brush or brushing glove. Most cats will fight the brush at first, but many eventually come to love it. A weekly brushing will significantly reduce the amount of loose hair around your home. You may need to step up the routine to every other day during the big shed seasons. Brushing can be a great way to bond with your cat, and it cuts down on hairballs.

Know Where Your Cat Goes
Even with regular brushing, cat hair is going to come loose. Stopping it at the source can be a challenge, as some cats will only clean themselves in secluded places. There could be a mountain of cat hair hiding under your bed or sofa.

Find out where your cat likes to hide. Chances are that's also where the cat goes for the daily cleaning. If it's under a large piece of furniture that's difficult to move for cleaning, you can fill the space with boxes or plastic storage tubs to keep kitty out. Otherwise, resign yourself to cleaning this area each week.

It's also good to know where your cat likes to hang out. A favorite sleeping spot on a sofa will need regular attention, as may the inside of curtains if kitty enjoys hiding between the curtains and the wall. Pay attention to the sides of chairs and sofas as well as speaker enclosures; cats will often rub against these to remove loose hair. If this behavior bothers you, you can try blocking the area with another piece of furniture. Another alternative is a brush that attaches to an outside corner in your home. Your cat will rub against this instead of your furniture, keeping cat hair in a place where it's easy to clean.

Use Those Vacuum Attachments
Remember all those goofy tubes and brushes that came with your vacuum cleaner? Dig them out of the back of the closet, because they're built for the battle against cat hair. Use the long-tube attachment for strong suction to remove cat hair from curtains without having to lift the vacuum cleaner. Use the brush attachment to remove cat hair from upholstery. You can also use the long-tube attachment to suck up those annoying cat hair clumps that sit in corners and behind doors.

A hand vacuum can be your best friend for a spot cleanup, or if you don't own a traditional vacuum cleaner. With a hand vacuum, you can remove cat hair from curtains, furniture and rugs without breaking a sweat or the bank. Different models have different degrees of effectiveness, so look for one that promises to pick up pet hair.

Choose Fabrics with Care
Some fabrics are simply more hospitable to cat hair than others. Wool will attract any loose cat hair in the room. Your cat knows this, which is why a sweater carelessly left out becomes a place to roll and play. Avoid wool carpeting and uplholstery, if possible, and treat these fabrics with an antistatic coating to reduce the amount of hair that accumulates. Keep wool garments behind closed doors and covered with plastic.

Curtains are a cat-hair magnet, but they don't need to be. Hem curtains so they hang a foot or so above the floor, and place small, washable floor rugs underneath them. This works especially well if you have hardwood floors. The rugs will catch the cat hair, and you can remove the cat hair from the rugs by throwing them in the washing machine.

Also consider choosing curtains in a color or pattern that matches your cat, or at least doesn't accentuate the problem. Black or brown curtains sharing a home with a long-haired white cat don't stand a chance, but white or cream-colored curtains could go for longer periods of time between cleanings. Darker colors are, generally, a poor choice, since cat hair tends to turn grey over time and stand out. The same rules apply for chair and sofa upholstery.

Try Slipcovers
If you can sew, make slipcovers for your sofa and chairs. Use durable, washable fabrics. When the cat hair starts to accumulate, simply remove the slipcover and wash it. If you aren't the crafty type, you can buy ready-made slipcovers in a variety of styles.

Some furniture makers are now designing sofas and chairs that are meant to be used with slipcovers. This lets you vary the look of your room from season to season and clean up cat hair in the washing machine.

Get Out the Tape
Lint rollers will remove cat hair, but they can also get clogged with it quickly. For a faster, more economical solution, grab some wide masking tape or packing tape. Wrap it around your fingers, sticky side out, then pat or wipe away hair that's accumulated on upholstery or curtains. This is a great way to spot-clean your cat's favorite hangouts. It's also an easy way to remove cat hair from curtains without taking them down.

Tap Your Dryer's Lint Trap
If you can safely put curtains in your dryer, giving them a quick spin is a great way to remove cat hair in a hurry. The tumbling motion of the dryer combined with the all-powerful lint trap will catch the cat hair. You may need to do a little spot cleaning afterward, but the dryer will remove most of the cat hair. Don't forget to clean out the lint trap when you're done, because too much cat hair buildup in the lint trap could start a fire.

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