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Cats are wonderful creatures, and having one as a pet is extremely rewarding and enjoyable.
However, litter trays and bathroom accidents are up there with being one of the worst things about having a cat, especially if you have a messy cat like me. My cat loves to kick litter out of her tray, and even with a high-sided litter box, she still manages to get it everywhere.
Handheld vacuums are a fantastic way to clean up litter clumps or particles that get kicked outside the tray or trodden around your home. They’re a better alternative than using your household vacuum, as you can quickly clean up a spillage without having to drag your whole vacuum out.
However, not all handheld vacuums can handle cat litter, trust me, I learned the hard way! The clay from the litter can clog and cause the internal components of the vacuum to break, and trying to hoover up any damp litter with a regular vacuum won’t end well either!
That’s why I’ve looked for the best handheld vacuum for cat litter, along with a few other fantastic products. These vacuums have been thoroughly researched, so take a read and stop letting tiresome jobs like cleaning up after your cat be more hard work than needed.
My Top Pick
The product that made cleaning up cat litter a dream was the BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Handheld Vacuum. It’s cordless and lightweight with a pivoting nozzle to clean even hard to reach places, it has a 20V lithium battery for superior suctioning power, and its triple filtration and easy-to-clean design means nasty smells are kept at bay. This really is the best handheld vacuum for cat litter!
I understand that this product may not be for everyone, so keep reading for other great product recommendations and close runner ups.
Best Handheld Vacuum for Cat Litter
I already explained that regular vacuums may not be able to handle picking up wet litter and that the clay dust can clog the machine, which is not what we want. So, what do we want?
Here are all the features that I looked for in the best handheld vacuum for picking up cat litter so that it actually works every time.
- Suction Power: The more powerful the suction of the vacuum, the better it is at sucking up those pesky clumps of litter and particles of dust. Plus, strong suction power also means that the vacuum can pick up hair and dirt from thick rugs, giving your handheld vacuum multipurpose.
- Separates Dirt & Air: To prevent the clay from lodging in the filter and reducing the lifespan of your vacuum, you need one which separates dirt from the air. This is done by using a bypass flow motor and is essential if using your vacuum to pick up cat litter.
- Suitable for All Floors: Vacuums often come with different attachments so that they perform well on all different types of flooring. Ideally, you want one for all types of floor, not just the flooring that your litter tray is on so that you can clean up cat mess all around the home.
- Cordless: I wanted a cordless vacuum for ease so that it could be used anywhere around the home, without the need to be near a plug socket.
- Lightweight: Handheld vacuums are never going to be ridiculously heavy as they are made to be used on one hand. However, the lighter the vacuum the better, as the easier it will be to use with minimal effort.
- Ease of Cleaning: Cat litter will smell, there’s no doubt about it, and so when you’re using a vacuum to clean up after your cat, you need it to be easy to clean. This will stop it from smelling and prolong the life of your vacuum.
With all things considered, here are the best handheld vacuums for cleaning up cat litter.
1. BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Handheld Vacuum (Best All-Rounder)
Firstly, this vacuum has a 20V lithium ion battery that provides such powerful suction that it has no trouble picking up cat litter from the floor. Lithium batteries are also known for their fade-free power; whereas most rechargeable batteries get weaker the more you use them, lithium batteries keep their power so even as time goes on, this vacuum will perform great.
This vacuum also uses cyclonic action which spins dust away from the filter, preventing the buildup of clay particles. There is also a superior 3-stage filtration system to help filter out bad smells and keep the vacuum performing well. When your filter does eventually need replacing, you can purchase new ones without needing to buy a replacement vacuum.
I also love the lightweight design of the BLACK+DECKER Handheld Vacuum. What’s more, it has a pivoting nozzle that rotates up to 200 degrees, making it super easy to clean even hard-to-reach places, and it is cordless, so there are no limitations on where you can use this vacuum. The nozzle also has a crevice tool attached with multiple accessories making it great for a range of surfaces.
Lastly, this vacuum is so easy to clean I’ve yet to find a product to beat it! There is no bag in the vacuum which is great for two reasons; it has a larger capacity and it makes it so easy to clean. There is a side door to empty all collected litter, but for a more thorough clean, you can remove the entire bowl and easily rinse it in the sink.
The only downside of this vacuum is that once it is taken off charge for use, it only lasts for around 10 minutes. However, for me, this was not an issue, as I was only using it for a quick cleanup of cat litter each day, and the charging unit is ideal for storage, so it is always ready for your next clean.
- 20V fade-free lithium battery for strong suction power
- Pivoting nozzle with various attachments
- Cordless and lightweight design for easy use
- Bagless and extremely easy to clean
- Superior 3-stage filtration system
- Cyclonic action separates dust from the filter
- Comes with a 2-year warranty
- Only lasts 10 minutes once taken off charge
2. Shark WV201 WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum (Super Lightweight)
The close runner-up is the Shark WV201 WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum, which is super lightweight, weighing in at only 1.4lbs! This makes cleaning up after your cat effortless, but there are plenty more reasons to love this vacuum.
Despite its lightweight and compact design, this vacuum is extremely powerful with a high-efficiency motor and a 10.8V lithium ion battery. It can also work on multiple surfaces due to the brush attachments, or fit into crevices with the special crevice tool, ideal for cleaning wherever it is your cat makes a mess.
The stick shape of this design is also great for cleaning litter off the floor, as the handle is higher up, meaning you’ll be less uncomfortable bending over. In fact, I think this is the best stick vacuum for cat litter.
I also love that you can empty this vacuum without getting your hands dirty; simply press a button at the top of the vacuum and the debris will empty out of the dirt bin. There is also no bag so you can easily wipe clean the inside of the bin after emptying it for an extra clean.
It is a cordless vacuum which is fantastic for maneuvering anywhere around your home, but handheld vacuums notoriously do not last long after being fully charged, which can be frustrating. This is the main downside of the vacuum as it only lasts 9.5 minutes when used from a full charge. Nevertheless, this should be enough time to clean around the litter tray. Plus, this vacuum recharges in a record-breaking 2.5 hours, so if your cat makes frequent messes you’re in luck with this product!
- Only takes 2.5 hours to fully charge
- Ultra-lightweight at 1.4lbs
- Two accessories for pet hair and use on multiple surfaces
- Cordless & compact stick shape design
- One-touch debris emptying for easy cleaning
- Only lasts for 9.5 minutes after each charge
3. VacLife Handheld Mini Vacuum Cleaner (30 Minute Run Time!)
The one thing that this handheld vacuum does better than others is that after reaching full charge, it can last up to 30 minutes. Whereas a 10-minute whizz around is enough time for me to clean around my cat’s litter tray, if you have more than one cat or want to use this elsewhere around your home, this is a huge perk. Plus, it only takes 3-4 hours to recharge fully.
This vacuum also comes with several handy tools: a dust brush to loosen stuck debris, a crevice tool for reaching into tight spots, and a rubber jar tool to pick up small pieces. There is also an extension hose which is fabulous for reaching hard-to-reach spaces, and a handy LED light on the front of the machine to help you navigate around dark corners.
You’ll also love the lightweight and compact design, which makes cleaning up after your cat effortless. This vacuum also uses a lithium ion battery which helps stop the battery from fading over time. However, the suction isn’t as powerful as other handheld vacuums.
It is also worth pointing out that this vacuum is exclusively for cleaning up dry mess, so while awesome at picking up litter and dust particles from around your cat’s litter tray, don’t use this to suck up soiled litter, or you may break it!
- 30 minute run time once fully charged
- Three nozzle attachments & extension hose
- LED light for cleaning dark corners
- Lightweight and compact design
- Conveniently cordless
- Could have better suction
- Only for dry use
4. BISSELL AeroSlim Lithium Ion Cordless Handheld Vacuum (Every Purchase Saves Pets)
This is a wonderful product in itself, but every purchase will also help save pets! That’s right, BISSELL proudly donates money from every purchase to the BISSELL Pet Foundation whose mission is to save homeless pets. By buying this product, you’ll not only have a lovely clean home but also will help improve the lives of other cats.
This is one of the sleekest designs I have found and fits into almost any space, which is ideal. I also love that this cordless design has a USB charger, which makes charging convenient and versatile. Once fully charged, the vacuum has power for up to 12 minutes, which should be plenty of time to quickly pick up litter from around the litter box.
There is also a dual filtration system, plus the filters are reusable so can be removed and washed. This improves both the vacuum’s performance and elongates its lifespan. The dirt bin is also easy to empty and is bagless, increasing the vacuum’s capacity and keeping nasty litter smells at bay.
As with most of the other products, this vacuum also comes with a 2-in-1 dust and crevice attachment to make cleaning in tight spots easier. While this vacuum also uses a lithium ion battery which is great for standing the test of time, it does have a lower voltage than I would like to see (7.2V), which is slightly disappointing. Nevertheless, suction is still relatively powerful and it does a good job at cleaning up cat litter.
- Money from each purchase donated to the BISSELL Pet Foundation
- Convenient USB charging
- Dual filtration system and reusable filters
- Compact, sleek, and cordless design
- 2-in-1 dust & crevice attachment
- Doesn’t come with a plug socket adapter
- Only 7.2V battery
5. BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Vacuum (Great for Hair & Litter)
Another BISSELL product which will also give a $5 donation to BISSELL Pet Foundation with every purchase is the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Vacuum. This product is designed to pick up pet hair, but I discovered it is also wonderful at cleaning up cat litter too, making this the best vacuum for cat hair and litter combined.
Although not as compact as other handheld designs, and therefore quite a bit heavier coming in at 4.27lbs, it does have a huge 0.7L dust bin. This is fantastic as it means you likely won’t need to empty it after every single use. Plus, the 14V battery can run for up to 17 minutes, so you can clean around your cat’s litter trays, on the sofa to pick up hairs, or wherever else they’ve made a mess, all in one go!
There is also a triple filtration system in place which helps improve the vacuum’s performance and lengthens its lifespan. However, you cannot purchase replacement filters for this product which is its major downfall. Once the filter needs replacing, you’ll have to purchase a whole new vacuum.
I also love that this comes with three attachments which are specially designed for cleaning up after your pet. There is a motorized brush tool that removes embedded dirt and hair, an upholstery tool designed for cleaning pet hair from the furniture, and a crevice tool for reaching tight spots.
- $5 donated to BISSELL Pet Foundation with each purchase
- Large easy-to-clean 0.7L dirt bin
- Triple level filtration system for improved performance
- Three specialized pet cleaning attachments
- Powerful 14V lithium ion battery
- Runs for up to 17 minutes
- Cannot buy replacement filters
- Heavier than other products
Handheld Vacuum for Cat Litter Buying Guide
Although these are my favorite handheld vacuums for picking up cat litter, I get that you might have a different opinion. Therefore, I have written this handy buying guide so that whatever product you decide to purchase, you can make sure it is the best handheld vacuum for cat litter for you!
Here are all the considerations you should take into account before making a purchase.
As with everything, there is a huge price range for handheld vacuums. The cheapest products start at around $30, but they can easily reach up to $100 for high-end models.
Therefore, the easiest way to start narrowing down products is by deciding what price you can afford. It doesn’t always follow that the best products are the most expensive, so make sure you check out the other factors on this list and don’t just assume that the bigger the price tag, the better the vacuum.
Suction power is one of the most important considerations when finding the best handheld vacuum for picking up cat litter. Pieces of litter are heavier than normal household dust, so for the vacuum to do a good job, it needs to have high suction.
For a really good clean, look for a battery voltage of at least 14V, and the higher, the better. However, voltages of 10V will still provide a decent clean around your cat’s litter tray.
You’ll also want to make sure that your vacuum has a lithium ion battery. When it comes to rechargeable batteries, they do not last forever and will eventually need to be replaced. However, lithium batteries offer up to 1,000 cycles before they start to lose quality, which helps improve the vacuum’s performance and means high suction power is maintained for longer.
Filter design also has a lot to do with suction, so bear this in mind too. A clogged filter will drastically reduce the suction power, even if there is a powerful battery inside. Look out for vacuums that have centrifugal action to help separate the dust and air to keep the filter clean. The more advanced the filtration system, the better your vacuum will perform, especially over time.
Charging Time & Run Time
If you are looking for a cordless model, which I would highly recommend as these vacuums can easily be transported and used anywhere around the home, you need to consider the charging time and run time.
How quickly the battery reaches full charge depends on its capacity and its strength. If you’re only planning on using the vacuum once each day for a quick clean between whole house vacuums, charge time is not as important as no product will take over 24 hours to charge. However, if you will be using it multiple times throughout the day, opt for a vacuum with a quick charge time so that it’s always ready for when you want to use it.
Run time is also important. Some high power vacuums only last for 10 minutes, which is great for my needs! However, if you have multiple cats or want to clean multiple areas in your home at once, finding a vacuum with a longer run time is best. This category totally depends on your individual needs.
Weight is also an important consideration, especially if you have weak wrists. The lighter the vacuum, the more easily you will find cleaning.
However, having a lightweight machine will also generally see the capacity decrease. Thus, if you want a vacuum that can hold a lot of debris and dirt before needing to be emptied, opt for a slightly heavier product that has a larger dirt bin. Again, there’s no right or wrong choice here, just what works best for your needs.
I’d also advise you to look out for a vacuum that comes with multiple attachments. This will make cleaning on multiple surfaces or in hidden nooks and crannies a lot easier.
At the bare minimum, I’d look for a vacuum with a crevice tool so that you can easily get into tight corners and spaces, and a brush tool to help shift stubborn dirt and dust that is trapped in fabrics. This is essential if you have your litter tray on carpeted floor, and less important for use on hard floors. However, I’d still get a vacuum with these attachments as you never know when they may come in handy.
Some hoovers, such as the BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Handheld Vacuum, have pivoting nozzles too, which further help you to get into tight spots and offer more cleaning versatility.
Ease of Cleaning
You should also consider how easy the handheld vacuum is to clean. This is especially important for handheld vacuums that will be cleaning up cat litter, as litter can be smelly.
Modern vacuums are commonly bagless, which is great for vacuums for cleaning up after your pet as you can easily tip out the debris and wipe the plastic clean. Some vacuums also have a removable bin so you can easily give the vacuum a deep clean. If you have allergies, look for a vacuum that can easily be emptied with the click of a button so you don’t have to come into contact with any dirt at all.
How Else Can I Stop My Cat Making a Mess?
You may be wondering if there is anything you can do to help reduce the amount of mess your cat makes in the first place. Thankfully, there are several things you can try changing to see if your kitty will become tidier.
Change the Litter Tray
When it comes to litter trays, height and size matter a lot more than many people realize. If your cat constantly kicks litter out of their tray when going to the bathroom, opt for a bigger litter box.
The bigger the base of the box, the more room your cat will have to move around and the less likely they are to kick litter over the edge. Litter trays should be big enough for your cat to comfortably turn around in with ease.
As well as a larger base, you could also try a litter box with high sides in hope that any litter kicked up will hit the walls and fall back into the tray instead of all over your floor. Top-entry litter boxes or hooded litter boxes work wonders in this respect, as they completely enclose the litter making it near impossible for your cat to make a mess on the floor. However, not all cats like enclosed litter boxes, so purchasing one with an open-top but high sides is a great alternative.
Change the Amount of Litter
Your cat may also be making a mess if there is too much or too little litter in their tray.
If there is too much litter, your cat will dig deep and make a huge mess. If there is too little litter, it is a similar situation. Your cat may be kicking and digging harder to try to cover their waste, which can cause a bigger mess than if you put slightly more litter in their tray to start with.
Clean the Litter Box Regularly
Cats are clean creatures, and not only will a dirty litter box deter your cat from actually using it, but it could also be the cause of them making a mess. Cats like to go to the toilet on clean litter, and if they cannot find a clean patch to use, they could end up kicking litter out in an attempt to find a clean spot.
Try cleaning your litter box more frequently and seeing if your cat’s behavior changes. This is especially important if you have multiple cats using one litter box as they get dirtier a lot quicker.
Q: What is the best handheld vacuum for cat litter?
A: In my opinion, the best handheld vacuum for picking up cat litter is the BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Handheld Vacuum. It has super strong suction, a fade-free battery, and cyclonic action to separate dirt from the air. It’s also easy to use anywhere due to its cordless and lightweight design, and the pivoting nozzle makes cleaning hard-to-reach places easy!
Q: Are pet vacuums worth it?
A: If your cat is constantly making a mess around their litter tray, then yes, pet vacuums are undoubtedly worth it. It is also worth buying a larger litter tray with higher sides and a litter mat to help contain the mess. Pet vacuums are also great for collecting cat hair too.
Q: Are bagless handheld vacuums better than bagged vacuums?
A: Bagless handheld vacuums are generally better than bagged vacuums as the bins have a larger capacity and are easier to clean. To catch all the dirt and dust, bagless vacuums should have a filter.
Q: Will cat litter harm my vacuum?
A: Cat litter won’t harm vacuums as long as you aren’t hoovering up excessive amounts, as the clay and dust could damage the filter and mechanical components. Picking up spilled litter from around the tray should be completely safe.
Q: How do you clean cat litter off the floor?
A: The easiest way to clean cat litter off the floor is by vacuuming up the litter and dust particles. If you have a hard floor, you may wish to follow by wiping the floor with cleaning wipes or washing it using a mop and bucket.
Q: Why does my cat kick litter out for their litter box?
A: It is instinctive for cats to try and cover up their deposits, and can they get enthusiastic about it. This is when litter tends to end up on the floor outside of the litter tray.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
The best handheld vacuum for picking up cat litter will depend on your needs, but generally, a vacuum that is light in weight, has powerful suction, and has good filtration will be a great choice of product. Choose any of the products I have reviewed and recommended in this list, or use my buying guide to source some excellent products on your own.
If you have a kitty that loves to kick litter out of their tray, I would certainly recommend purchasing a handheld vacuum. They make cleaning up the mess so much easier and make this tiresome job way less hard work. Go on, you can thank me later.