Nemesis Vs the Vacuum Cleaner Monster

cat who killed a vacuum cleaner

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The tiny ball of black fur arrived snuggled up in a shoebox riddled with holes and lined with a soft blue towel. He was given to me and my first husband as a wedding gift by his best friend Richard Corey, Professor Irwin Corey’s son. Professor Irwin Corey is a famous double-talking “know-it-all” American comic, dubbed as the “World’s Most Foremost Authority” on just about anything. Born in 1914, Professor Corey is a centurion. But this story is not about Professor Corey, it’s about one of the most remarkable cats who ever owned me.

It was love at first sight the instant I opened the box and gently held him in my hand. It started a passionate love affair with the black kitty which, much to my delight lasted over 17 years.

He appeared to me to be no older than seven weeks of age. I thought to myself that this kitten was much too young to be taken from his mother; but there was no turning back. Richard informed us that the baby kit was already eating solid food, using his litter box, and had excellent feline manners.

But as tiny as he was, he quickly turned into a curious little rascal. He got into everything and found the most incredibly strange hiding places. The lining of our mattress was just one of his favorite spots so we were kept constantly on our toes just trying to keep up with him. Naming him Nemesis was a “no-brainer”. His moniker fit him to a “T”.

Useful links
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Nemesis was half-Siamese. His mother was an apple-head Siamese who called for mates while lounging in Corey’s back yard. His daddy was a travelling salesman. Nemesis was born nine weeks after his parents’ short but passionate honeymoon.

The tiny kitten slowly grew into a magnificent black cat with a tiny white fur locket on his chest. Although he was incredibly intelligent, his passion for exploring, coupled with his drive to conquer his universe sometimes got him into trouble. He would escape out the front door of our apartment in an eye blink without our even noticing his departure. We were stunned one afternoon when one of our upstairs’ neighbors knocked on the door with Nemesis in his arms. Apparently he had run into his apartment when his front door was left open.

Although Nemesis was a brave and feisty feline, there was one thing that brought him to his paws in abject terror. Just the sight of our vacuum cleaner on the floor left him shaking. He would crouch down on all fours, tail tucked between his legs and slink away into any hiding place he could find.

But what was even more frightening to this muscularly built seventeen pound cat was the sound of the vacuum cleaner motor. As soon as it was turned on he would instantly dash under the bed trembling in fear. I felt sorry for him, but keeping the place clean was necessary.

But as soon as the vacuuming was finished, I would remove the dastardly vacuum cleaner monster out of sight. It was only then that Nemesis would reappear. But one fateful day I forget to stow it.

There it lay silent in the middle of the room. Upon seeing it, Nemesis fled under the bed. But he also wanted to hang out with me, so he slowly began crawling out from his hiding place.

At first he stood motionless facing the silent beast. But he then started to move; and like a cat going into battle, he arched his back, puffed up his tail and assumed a threatening and aggressive posture. He moved slowly toward the fearful object, and raising a paw he dealt death-blows, thwapping it repeatedly until he was assured he had abolished the “monster” into the netherworld. What a courageous kitty! Proudly puffing up his chest he sauntered through the house wearing a grin rivaling the Cheshire Cat‘s.

Nemesis never fled from the vacuum cleaner again. However, he prudently retreated to a chair in whatever room I was cleaning.

Does the vacuum cleaner scare your cats? Tell us in a comment.


Photo credits:

  1. Flickr user Tambako the Jaguar (this is not Nemesis)
  2. Vacuum cleaner: Found on eBay
Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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22 Responses

  1. Tani Mara says:

    All of our cats hate the dreaded elephant nosed monster. That is except for Jake. He was bequeathed to my by my brother Tom. Jake is different from the other cats. He seems to think the vacuum is just a bothersome, but not dangerous monster. He gives it his best death ray stare and then turns his back on it and dares it to attack. I don’t know Jake’s past except that he wandered into my brother’s place one day and never left. He scared my brother’s dog so bad that the dog gave up his favorite bed to Jake. At almost 16 pounds of black cat he is commanding. He even likes to play with the goat kids and romps with them. I guess being afraid of the vacuum is all in a cat’s own preference. LOL

  2. Leah says:

    Brave Kitty! Never had a cat that wasn’t afraid of the hoover but I’ve had a few that brave it out and wait as long as they can glaring at it until they can wait no longer and run for cover!

  3. Elizabeth Ann Scarborough says:

    Mine run off when the motor starts but sometimes come back in the room when they realize it’s not going near them and besides, Mom is holding it and she won’t let it hurt them.

  4. This is somewhat off-topic but I love that vacuum cleaner 😉 it is a 1950s or whatever style vacuum cleaner and it’s a really nice bit of kit! It looks like a really classy vacuum cleaner. They made things differently in those days. They used metal rather than plastic and I think machinery was more durable in those days. Anyway just thought I would mention that.

    • Jo Singer says:


      We still have that classic VC stored in our garage- and it still works. Since I am disabled we have a wonderful housekeeper that visits every two weeks (she is also our amazing cat sitter).

      Her vacuum cleaner doesn’t seem to bother either of the boys anymore. Initially they did scatter under the bed when she turned it on, but now they just yawn and go back to sleep.

      They have been also known to rub their cheeks against it when it lays idle on the floor. I guess that is their way of dealing with the VCM. LOL

  5. Reno says:

    Jo, your writing has me in stitches!! I can just picture Nemesis attacking that awful household appliance. While my cats will scatter while it is running, I have never have one outright attack it. Marbles will even ride around on the tank vacuum. She is deaf and I think she likes the wamrth when it is running. 🙂

    • Furby says:

      I like the part about the short but passionate honeymoon :)I’ve had 2 cat wives so I understand cat passion…

  6. Donna says:

    The vacuum cleaner monster needs only emerge from the closet for the most of cats to retreat to their hiding places. Their retreat and guard plans are as follows:
    Mouse: Sit @ floor on right side of bed until VCM enters and then run under bed.
    Chester: Sit @ floor on left side of bed until VCM enters and then get on top of bed
    Missy: Remain on top of the kitchen cabinets and watch for any unusual activity by VCM.
    Pirate: I’ve been around 19 1/2 years. VCM does not seem to be any threat. Continue to sit in mom’s recliner, but keep eye on VCM for any unusual activity
    Wheezel: Pirate’s guarding me.
    Bear: I’m as far under the bed as I can get and I ain’t coming out. There ain’t no trusting that yellow Dyson thingy. Nope it ain’t getting ME.

  7. Jo Singer says:

    LOL Ruth!

    Purrhaps Jozef is telling you that you need to get some permanent press items. I tell ya cats are just too smart for their own good.

    That is really a strange phobia.. do you know how that started?

    • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

      It’s Walter has ironing board phobia and ladder phobia and black sack phobia too, to name a few, what they did to him before we rescued him we daren’t even think!
      Jozefs only phobia is going to the vets! He freezes like Lot’s wife, getting him in and out of the cat basket!

      • Jo Singer says:

        Thanks for the correction, Ruth.

        I can only imagine why they are so frightened of these relatively inanimate objects.

        Thankfully they met you and Babz to help them to more greatly restore their sanity.

        • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

          We know Walter just needs calmness and nothing out of place and he’s happy.
          Jozef is much more laid back but he had a good start in life.

  8. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    Brave Nemesis! He reminded me of my Bryan, he was a brown tabby and anything he didn’t like, he would stalk it and whack it with his paw and then march triumphantly away. We had a cylinder vacuum cleaner in those days and he even rode on it while we used it!
    Jozef isn’t bothered by our vacuum cleaner as long as we don’t go too close but Walter runs at the very sight of it even before it’s switched on.
    He also has an ironing board phobia, so we can’t vacuum or iron in a room he is in lol

    • I agree. I love the way he attacked this vacuum cleaner. It confirms that a cat sees a vacuum cleaner as some sort of predatory animal that needs to be attacked. I always like a cat who behaves very much like a cat should. I like the wild character. I want to have a cat which has all the characteristics of his or her wild ancestor but domesticated. A lot of people want something different and for me that is an incorrect attitude.

    • Jo Singer says:

      LOL Ruth.. I wish I had a photo of Bryan on the vacuum cleaner.

      Nemesis was a very courageous kitty in almost every other facet of his life. So it tickled me watching his conquering the VCM. I wish I had taken a photo of his brave action.

  9. Marc says:

    Lilly loves the vacuum cleaner. She gets in the way and tries to take it down making it hard for me to do my job. She comes running and just attacks the whole thing and me. 🙂

    • kylee says:

      lols sounds like she loves it.

    • The cats that I have cared for have always done the opposite and run away rather than towards a vacuum cleaner when it has been turned on. In fact, they begin to look anxious even as I approach the thing! There only desire is to hide somewhere. That said, they tended to stay out of the way rather than hide under something.

  10. Furby says:

    You human servants are all alike! Mama used to scare me with the giant roaring sucky monster. Now she has a shaky whirly smoothie maker that’s just as bad. I jump 3 feet straight up when I hear it. And people wonder why I always look like I’m hunting for trouble. Why can’t humans just be quiet…

  11. The vacuum cleaner is probably the single most hated household device by the domestic cat. I think it’s a combination of 2 things. The size of it would be similar to the size of an animal and the noise it makes could also be the sound made by an animal. I was interested to read that Nemesis treated the Hoover as an aggressive animal which he had to attack and subdue. His behaviour fits in nicely with my thoughts about the “vacuum cleaner problem”.

    If a manufacturer really did want to manufacture a vacuum cleaner for cats and dogs, it should not only be very good at picking up cat hair but it should also be extremely quiet and cat-friendly. The noise it makes should be silenced much more effectively and perhaps it should be in a shape and/or a material which looks friendly to the domestic cat. Just a thought!

    I enjoyed reading your story and I did not expect Nemesis to attack the dreaded monster. Good on him.

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