Hair, Hair, Everywhere

Spring is in the air and hair is on the floor. The term "blowing coat" has new meaning when you live with six critters. Given how many people take animals to shelters "because the dog/cat sheds," apparently people need help dealing with pet hair. So if you are considering getting a pet, know that sharing your house with pets means you will live with a lot of fur. Either accept that idea or don’t get a pet. For those people who understand that yes, the pet will shed, here are a few suggestions for dealing with pet hair. (Also keep in mind that I’m not a neatnik and no one would ever call my house a model of cleanliness.)

The first suggestion should be pretty obvious: brush your pets. Taking the hair off the dog or cat keeps it from falling on the floor. I’d also like to point out that short-haired and small animals still shed. The idea that short haired animals shed less is a lie. When I was growing up, we had a Labrador mix that shed vast quantities of hair year round. Yes, the individual strands may have been shorter than those of a golden retriever, but he made up for it in volume. My rotund short-haired tabby is another example of a small animal with a tremendous amount of fur.

With cats, when you comb her, a bonus is that you also lower the likelihood that she will hack up hairballs on the carpet. You also might look into those kitty combs that attach on a corner. The idea is that the cat rubs up on the comb and brushes himself. A long time ago, a relative sent me one of these and it sat in a drawer for years because I figured no self-respecting feline would deign to use such a thing. I was wrong. I attached it to one of the poles on our kitty tree and one of our cats uses it every day. (More proof that no one can really predict cat behavior.)

Secondly, if you don’t want hair in a particular place, you need to keep the pet off it. The most hair collects in the places where your pet spends the most time. For example, if your gray tabby has decided that the sofa is way nicer than his kitty bed, a great gray wad of hair will collect on the sofa. (The wad of hair will subsequently affix itself to your pants when you sit on the sofa.) Although you can buy electronic "Scat Mats" to keep pets off furniture, when we aren’t around, our low-tech solution is to leave a piece of wood on the sofa to discourage the cats from sleeping there. The idea is to make the sofa hard and unappealing, in contrast to the nice soft kitty bed. Spraying some Scotch Guard on the fabric also makes pet hair easier to remove. (Plus, at least for a little while, your cat will avoid the area because it smells.)

Obviously, to deal with pet hair, you need to vacuum. If you have a lot of pets, it means you need a heavy duty vacuum. These vacuums aren’t cheap and if you have allergies, look for one with a HEPA filter. I also have a "rug rake" which helps take a bit of the load off the vacuum. A rug rake is exactly what it sounds like: a stick with a rubberized rake on the end that you drag across the carpet. They are usually used by folks who clean carpets. I got mine from a carpet supply store online (technically it’s an "18-inch Grandi Groom Commercial Carpet Rake").

You can use many things to remove hair from your clothes, like those tape roller things. However, my favorite is the old-fashioned lint brushes that catch the hair when you drag them one direction and release it when you drag it the other way. I also use the brush on furniture, when I don’t want to deal with the vacuum.

Hair is fact of life for pet owners. But with a little effort you can lower the flying fur level, even when it seems like all your pets are "blowing coat" at the same time.

About Susan Daffron

Susan Daffron is the author the Alpine Grove Romantic Comedies and multiple award-winning nonfiction books, including several about pets and animal rescue. Check out all her books on her Amazon Author page.