Cat Hair vs. The World: Why this Hoover Sucks

Do not hand-vac the kitty, even if you've seen it on youtube

Mia, source of unending joy and an infinite number of white (and some calico) cat-hairs. Everywhere.

Disclosure: The product which is discussed in this post was sent to me at no charge as a Press Preview Sample by the Hoover company. I did not buy the product. Also please note that Hoover did not pay me to write what follows; they simply sent me the product, free of charge, to test and evaluate.

And…gotta say it: the new Hoover Air Cordless 2-in-1 is the best Christmas gift I’ve ever given myself. So ironic, since I’ve never been one for appliances. Early in our marriage, my thoughtful husband gave me a microwave oven as a birthday gift. Although I was born in mid-July, hand to God you could instantaneously hear the crackling sound of glacial ice forming, although the summer sun blazed that day in Burbank. The girl was not happy.

But, this super lightweight sucker, the Hoover Air Cordless 2 – in – 1 (there’s a handheld unit sort of like a dust-buster that snaps out of the main body frame), is a different story.

Last Christmas season, my eyes were watering and my skin was itching whenever I sat on our very rock n’roll purple velvet couch.  Although I was slow to admit it, the source was clear: Mia. In all fairness, Mia had shared the couch for about five years with her erstwhile companion, the now-departed Nigella. Nigella was a feral-ish Norwegian Forest Cat-ish stray with long, white and gray fur.  Between the two of them, although I brushed and combed them as frequently as I do my own luxuriance, I could have stuffed dozens of comforters with the mounds of airy, feathery-soft wisps and tufts they left everywhere.

Yes, in case you are wondering, it had occurred to me to drape the sofa with sheets, as many pet-owners do. I hesitated because I see this as the first step to a hard-core, “Grey Gardens” downward spiral of quadruped accommodation, leading to wrapping moth-eaten angora sweaters around my head like turbans, pinned with a crazy rhinestone brooch.

So, the years of accumulated dander were getting to me, and I called the St. Vincent de Paul Society to come and pick up the purple sofa. I had, of course, used both of my vacuum cleaners with an array of attachments which suggest the latest from NASA to try and remove the hair. I had also tried every sticky roller, guaranteed pet hair-picker-upper, as-seen-on-TV gripper, scraper, and rolls of good old duct tape without number. But to no avail. The white hairs worked themselves like diabolical needles into the pile of the velvet.

When the two young fellas came for the couch, they exchanged nervous glances. Then one of them told me they couldn’t take it, because it was covered with cat-hair.

Really?  Yes, really. I had to pay $150 to haul the damn thing away. Because of cat-hair.

This brings me to my wardrobe. Like almost everybody else, I specialize in shades of black. This, like owning a purple velvet sofa, may be contraindicated when you also share space with one or more large white cats.

But still.

Again, my black Italian wool pencil skirt, black cashmere pashmina, trousers, every black sweater, coat, blazer and even sock is insidiously woven through with fine white quills. The other day, I brought a few of these into the local dry cleaner. The proprietress looked at me as if I had just arrived from Mars.

“I can’t take these,” she said, incredulously. “They’ve covered in cat-hair.”

Really? I bit my tongue. I was having a Jerry Seinfeld moment. Isn’t it kinda her job to clean clothes? She handed me a sticky-roller accompanied by a withering gaze.  When she eventually swept my garments into the bin for processing, I tried to butter her up by saying, “Well, it shouldn’t be this bad next time. One of my cats disappeared.”

“Oh, thank GOD,” she replied, “they’re FILTHY animals.”

Really? Is cat-hair an actual health issue?

These experiences contribute to what is already, you should pardon the expression, a warm and fuzzy feeling I have about vacuuming. Not that it was part of my childhood household or upbringing at all; it wasn’t. Truly a woman before her time, my Suzuki Bean-ish mother boycotted all housework. Her eternally dry remark whenever people came to our place and noticed the bohemian disarray, preceded by a Bette Davis-like “Ha!” — “Must be the maid’s day off.”

But when I was a journalism student working at my campus newspaper, I got my first insight into how a human being could place value on a non-human work partner– like a cowboy with his horse. As I wandered in that morning, the man who cleaned the building was storming out the doorway. He was a tall, normally pleasant-tempered older gentleman from the American South.

“Dammit, somebody stole my ‘lectric sucker! That’s my TRADE, man!” he shouted to the heavens as he pushed past me.

A year or so later, I had an even greater epiphany about a vacuum-cleaner. My husband and I had inherited an old canister-model from his mother. It was low, with a mustard-yellow metal case, and a long steel neck. There was silver duct tape around one end, and eventually it gave up the ghost– probably because we never changed the bag, just like we never changed the oil in the car. In both cases, the motor just, um, stopped working.

So we set the vac out on the curb for bulky-item pick-up (the Chevy Bel Air was towed away somewhat later). A few days later, I was running an errand and I saw a man take our old, discarded vac out of the trunk of his parked car. It was unmistakably the same unit: mustard-yellow, canister model, silver duct tape on the neck, probably a Hoover. In slightly less visionary terms, I felt akin to Bob Dylan when he wrote “The vagabond who’s rapping at your door / Is standing in the clothes that you once wore” (from “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”.)

Am I what used to be called a demon-housekeeper? Hardly, although I do pad around with a spray bottle of Windex in one hand, a damp rag in the other when I am procrastinating in the face of a deadline, or mooning over a nagging what-if. There are always cat-hairs to pick up.

Still, I love my new Hoover Air. I especially appreciate the cordless aspect: the unit gets its charge from a lithium-ion battery which is a little bigger than my iPhone.

It’s light. It’s agile. Yes, I am tempted to vacuum Mia herself, but never would, especially not with the backlash against the scaring-cats-with-cucumber video that’s raging in social media right now. Take note: the owner’s manual specifically states (page 8): “CAUTION: Not to be used for grooming a pet.”

I may, however, try it on my pashmina.

Victoria Thomas

About Victoria Thomas

Brooklyn-born Victoria Thomas loves writing about flora and fauna, although she chooses to do so in an urban setting. If she had it all to do over again, she might have become a forensic entomologist. She lives in Los Angeles.
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1 Response to Cat Hair vs. The World: Why this Hoover Sucks

  1. Ivor Levene Ivor Levene says:

    Do it! Vacuum Mia!

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