vacuum cleaner for cats

Best Vacuum for Cat Hair and Litter

Whether you have one cat or 10, keeping on top of the cleaning makes life easy. A quick vacuum everyday day is so much easier than having to do a massive spring clean because hair, litter and other things have been allowed to build up over time.

Needless to say, regular cleaning (especially vacuuming) minimizes the incidence of fleas in the environment and of course, makes it much more pleasant for both the cat and human inhabitants of the house. Doubly so if there’s anyone in your home with cat allergies.

But not all vacuum cleaners are ideal for pet hair. Some don’t perform well at all, while others are literally built with pets as a top design priority. The floor surfaces in your home also play a big part in what type of vacuum will work best for you. Carpet has different cleaning needs than hardwood floors.

But regardless of the surface of your floors (and you probably have multiple different types throghout the house), you’ll still need a vacuum tgat’s designed speficially to perform well in the area of picking up pet hair. Some types of vacuum cleaners just don’t do well in that area; they either don’t pick up much hair at all, or they get clogged up very quickly and can be rendered useless or worse, have a complete breakdown.

A pet-hair-optimized vacuum, on the other hand (the good ones, at least) are built with this as a priority in the entire design. This includes how the vacuum picks up cat and dog fur, to how it moves through the system and of course, how you dispose of it and maintain the vacuum cleaner.

So my goal in this guide to the best vacuums for cat hair (and for picking up cat litter, which I’ll get to later), focuses mostly on those models which are specifically made to excel in cleaning up stray cat hairs, but any more mainstream vacuums that I’ve come across whcih happen to perform exceptionally for pet hair are included as well.

It’s all about selecting the right vacuum, because this is somethng that, when chosen right, will be used often and for the life of your cat. So quality, performance as well as cost effectiveness, are where my focus is in this guide whcih I will be updating regularly!

I’ve divided this cat vacuum guide into three sections: handheld vacuums, upright vacuums, and other vacuum types (things like Roomba). I’ve also included a section on sweepers

Handheld Vacuums for Cat Hair

There are times when rolling out the big vacuum isn’t something you feel like doing. Handheld vacuums are awesome for little clean up jobs, or just for general ongoing cleaning maintenance. I’d rather spend 5 minutes a day with a good handheld vac, than let it all build up over the week and have to tackle a bigger vacuuming task on the weekend.

These portable vacuums have their place, and are parituclarly useful for going over the couch, rugs, in the car, on top of shelves, and any other higher up or less convenient spaces that you might not even be able to get a conventional vacuum cleaner to at all.

Handheld vacuum devices can have a reputation for being, well, almost useless at times. Especially when it comes to pet hair. Unfortunately these opinions (rightly so) come about as a result of people using hand held vacs that are (to put it bluntly), rubbish. There are definitely some out there that struggle to pick up even the lightest of debris, let alone pet hair from the couch.

So what I want to do here is focus on the best handheld vacuums specifically for cat hair and pets in general. This is based on extensive, thourough and honest research and I present it all here, including any negatives and downsides (which even the most highly regarded products can sometimes have).

As you’d already know if you own one or are looking to purchase one, a lot of upright vacuums come with a handheld accessory or can be converted to hand held. The ones I’m reviewing here however, are standalone handheld vacuum products (check out the section in this guide on regular upright vacuums for those that come with this accessory).

What to look for in a good handheld vacuum for cats:

  • Cordless or corded? It goes without saying that a cordless vac is exceptionally easier to get around with and have increased flexiblity to those that use a cord.
  • Battery life – how long can it run for without replacing or recharging batteries?
  • Hair pick up ability – most importantly, we want something that won’t choke up with moderate amounts of cat hair

Shark Cordless Pet Perfect and Pet Perfect II

shark cordless perfect pet II handheld vacuum cleaner shark cordless perfect pet handheld vacuum cleaner

Quick Overview

  • Cordless
  • Reasonably priced
  • Bagless
  • Motorized brush is optimized for picking up animal fur
  • Can be used on any surface
  • Rechargable battery

Differences betweem Shark Cordless Pet Perfect and Pet Perfect II SV780 Hand Vacs

Besides the slightly difference appearance, what are the main differences between these two Shark models? Both are bagless, both are cordless, both run on rechargable batteries. The differences are not made totally clear when you’re comapring both of these vacs side by side. So I looked much deeper into these two hand vacs to see just what separates them!

The Pet Perfect II has a running time of 30 minutes per battery charge, compared with 15 minutes for the original Shark Pet Perfect.

The Pet Perfect II is recommended for use on all floor types, while the Pet Perfect original is rated for use on carpet and hard floors. In reality, this covers just about any surface anyway so the discrepency here is quite minor.

The Pet Perfect II comes with more attachment accessories – you get a crevice tool, dusting brush and motorized nozzle. The Perfect Pet vac only comes with a crevice tool.

Pet Perfect II has a wider cleaning width of 4.38 inches, compared with the Pet Perfect’s 4″ width.

The Pet Perfect is slightly lighter at 3.5 pounds, versus 4.3 pounds of the Pet Perfect II.

Clearly, the Shark Cordless Pet Perfect II Hand Vac comes out on top in some key areas, when compared with the original version. Both perform well though, and I would place the increased battery life and additional accessories as the biggest advantages of the II model, for people who see a use for these added benefits.

Roomba and Robotic Vacuums for Cats

Well, we know cats love a Roomba (robotic vacuums). But apart from the enterainment value, how do they perform in what they’re actually designed to do, you know, cleaning up? Are they good for cat fur, litter and everything else your cats leave behind on the floor?

Robotic vacuums have their benefits, but not all are suited for pet hair. The ones I talk about here are the ones that have some sort of design features or specific abilities to handle cat and dog hair.

Roomba is one brand of robotic vacuum cleaners (and certainly the most well known). They’re also generally the most expensive. So whether you can afford a Roomba or not is up to you, but I’m covering a wider range of robo vacuums here to see how they lower cost ones compare to the top of the range models.


iLife V3s robotic vac for cat hair

Cleaning functions:

  • Vacuuming
  • Dry mopping
  • Sweeping

Floor types: Hardwood, laminate, tiles, some short carpets

Remote control: Yes

Max cleaning time per battery charge: Up to 110 minutes

The ILIFE V3s is made for cleaning up pet hair. This is one of the very few pet-specific robotic vacuum cleaners around. That means it has been developed with the picking up of stray fur in mind as a top priority. Does it perform this task well though? It depends on what floor surface you’ll be cleaning.

The V3s works best on hardwood and laminate flooring. It’s not made for cleaning carpet, and in fact, the manufacturer does not recommend using it on carpeted floors. It simply doesn’t have the mechanism to pick up pet hair from most carpets. Tiled floors are also suitable.

Despite the lack of recommendation for carpet cleaning with this vacuum, some people have seen acceptable performance when using it on short carpet and rugs – it can be a case of trial and error in these cases.

You’ll get somewhere between 90 and 110 minutes of continuous cleaning operation from the ILIFE V3s. There are 14 sensors in the unit to help it avoid obstacles AND to stop it from falling down stairs – pretty nifty.

The smoother ride it has, the longer the battery will last for each clean. However even at the lower end of 90 minutes, it’s going to be more than enough time to clean even the largest of areas.

It’s “return to base” function is probably my favorite thing about the iLife – when it needs a battery charge, it will go back to the charging dock on its own to recharging can begin without any input from you.

But it’s the cat hair pick up ability of the V3s that’s of main interest to me. It’s all well and good to have advanced functions, a sleek looking design, and great battery life; but I want a robotic cleaner to be able to pick up pet hair with ease and not have it clog up, stop working and choke itself.

That’s why it’s important to have a vacuum that has the ability to pick up pet fur as a key design point, as is the intention with the ILIFE V3s. Thankfully, it performs well in this area. It clearly does not have the capacity as an upright vacuum, but for light cleaning jobs the V3s is certainly one to consider.

I wanted to weigh up all of the pros and cons I’ve discovered about this robo vac, as it makes it considerably easier to determine if it’s going to be a good choice for your home layout, the number of cats you have, and if it will meet your expectations!

Pros and Cons of the ILIFE V3s Robotic Vacuum Cleaner


  • Works superbly on hardwood floors
  • Low cost compared to some other brands
  • Docks itself into the charger when battery is low
  • Very slim design makes it ideal for under-couch cleaning
  • Quiet operation; generally quieter than a Roomba vac
  • 12 month warranty from the manufacturer
  • Good running time of up to 110 minutes per charge
  • Lets you schedule cleaning times
  • Works moderately well with picking up litter, depending on litter type and how much there is to pick up (this is more of a neutral point than a pro or a con)


  • Can struggle with bigger clumps of hair – something to consider if you have a long-haired cat
  • Doesn’t perform as well with stairs as a Roomba (the iLife occasionally doesn’t detect stairs)
  • Not a great performer on carpets and rugs – can become stuck

Clearly there are more potential benefits than potential downsides when it comes to the iLife V3s. This is a good choice if you want a robo vac, but your budget doesn’t extend to ultimate and default option (indeed, many people don’t even know other brands exist), a Roomba.

As long as your needs aren’t too extreme, and you don’t have a hugely complex area to clean with a robotic vacuum, the iLife ticks most of the boxes cat owners need, while allowing you to keep some change in your pocket.

Jasper’s Pick for the Best Vacuums for Cat Litter

Picking up cat litter is something that low quality vacuum cleaners struggle with. If there’s not enough suction to pull up those solid pieces of rock or crystal from the floor (especailly carpets), you’re wasting your time and may as well use a broom.

Thankfully, it doesn’t cost the earth to find a vacuum that copes well with litter. A good vacuum will save considerable time in cleaning up stray litter pieces, especially those that make their way beyond any tracking mats you might have around the litter box.

Jasper’s pick for a top litter-clearing vacuum is actually a small package: the handheld Black and Decker Dustbuster Cordless Vacuum.

We like this one as the best handheld vacuum for cat litter because it’s something you can pull out without fuss whenever you need it for a quick clean up, you don’t have to mess around with a cord, and it won’t break the bank (not by a long shot).

It’s not going to give you the performance of a $1000 vacuum, but that’s not its goal. But what makes this little handheld vac great for litter is the wide mouth opening. On vacuums that have a tighter opening, you quickly get it clogged up with litter pieces which then fall back to the floor once the vacuum is turned off. Clogging also stops smaller dust particles from being picked up.

So a wide opening is essential for any vacuum cleaner that you want to use to pick up cat litter.

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