Home Decor

9 Couches That Your Cat Won’t Immediately Destroy

When you love your feline (but also love nice things).

October 11, 2019
Photo by Joybird

I love my cat dearly, but why does he insist on decimating my furniture?

I’ve spent a small fortune on scratching posts over the years, but my cat finds it so much more satisfying to sink his claws into the corner of my couch or headboard. For several years I had a sleeper sofa from IKEA that he absolutely destroyed with his near-constant clawing—no amount of yelling, pleading, or claw trimming yielded results.

So, when I recently moved into my new apartment and sought to purchase a new couch, I was determined to find a material my cat wouldn’t totally shred up. I dragged my boyfriend around to furniture store after furniture store, quizzing every salesperson on the best pet-friendly upholstery fabrics. Turns out, they were all entirely prepared for the question. Here’s what I learned.

Splurge on Leather

When you think of pet-friendly fabrics, leather often comes to mind. And you’d be right. Hair doesn’t stick, it's easy to wipe odor off, and there’s nothing for cats to sink their claws into. As such, leather is a solid choice if you’re trying to prevent your cat from going in on your furniture, simply because it won't enjoy it as a scratching post.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Try PSST cat spray repellent. It is a motion activated canister than sprays AIR (nothing harmful) and was the only thing that kept my cats away from my sofa. After a while the cats no longer even try, so it is a training tool as well as a deterrent.”
— Eleanor M.

However, leather is prone to getting scratched, so if your cat likes to run around the house at full speed, launching himself over furniture like a parkour pro, you might end up with big, unsightly scratches across your expensive couch. Keep that in mind.

Hamilton Leather Sofa (West Elm)

Photo by West Elm

This beautiful sofa has a 1950s-inspired frame, and it comes in a variety of leather shades, including black, several browns and tans, and even navy blue.

Carleton Leather Sofa Bed (Wayfair)

This sofa transforms into a queen-size sleeper if you’re ever hosting guests, and it comes in 15 different genuine leather finishes.

Chamberlin Recycled Leather Sofa (Urban Outfitters)

Photo by Urban Outfitters

If you like a retro-inspired vibe, this sofa is the perfect option with its clean silhouette and metal legs. It’s even made from recycled leather that’s super soft and subtle.

Choose Microfiber or Microsuede

Another good fabric option for those with cats is microfiber or microsuede. These fabrics are more budget-friendly than leather, and they use very fine, tightly woven threads that are hard for cats to dig into. However, it does tend to be a hair magnet, so it’s best to pick an upholstery color that’s closest to your cat’s fluff.

Lewis Sofa (Joybird)

Photo by Joybird

Joybird offers a number of “pet-friendly” fabrics, including this Bentley Pewter option. The fabric is tightly woven for durability, but it’s plush, with a chenille-like finish.

Ibiza Sofa (Wayfair)

This sofa has flared arms and button-tufted cushions for an elevated appearance (for less), and you can choose from black or brown to match your pet’s fur.

Giovanny Reversible Sectional (Wayfair)

If you have a big family, you might need a larger seating area, such as this microsuede sectional that can seat five or more people—plus a few animals (because they’re now invited on there).

For the Worst Clawing: Sunbrella

I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t Sunbrella an outdoor fabric?” The brand does offer awnings, boat coverings, and other outdoor materials, but it’s become so popular that many furniture companies have started offering indoor Sunbrella upholstery. The indoor versions typically have a softer feel than canvas-type fabrics, but still retain the durability and convenience.

Sunbrella is widely regarded as one of the most pet-friendly fabrics you can buy today, and if that doesn’t stop your cats from clawing, we’re not sure what will.

Carlisle Upholstered Sofa (Pottery Barn)

Photo by Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn is one of the best places to shop for Sunbrella furniture, as you can get almost all of their sofas in a variety of Sunbrella colors. This particular couch, with its English roll arms and deep seat, will cradle you in comfort and style.

William Hybrid Recliner Sectional (Wayfair)

This large three-piece sectional is available in not one, but five Sunbrella finishes, and it even includes a power reclining seat and USB charging ports.

Bryant U-Sofa Bumper Sectional (Joybird)

Photo by Joybird

This cushy sectional is available in a number of Sunbrella finishes, and you can arrange its five pieces in a variety of ways for all the flexibility and function you need.

Extra Protective Measures

If you’re trying to protect your existing couch from further destruction, there are a number of products designed to deter clawing. The bad news is that they don’t always work—it really depends on how determined your cat is—but they’re worth a try. Here are two popular options.

Sofisti-Cat Scratch Deterrent Tape

This is essentially a large swatch of double-sided tape that you can place over the corners that your kitty likes to scratch. The idea is that your cat won’t enjoy the stickiness of the surface and will stop clawing at that area. However, the tape itself isn’t the most attractive, so you’ll have to be okay with the unsightly appearance of your furniture for a while.

Pet MasterMind Claw Withdraw Training Spray

You can also try this anti-clawing spray, which is basically just a blend of smelly herbs that your cat won’t like. You’re supposed to apply it several times a day to your furniture to deter your furry friend, but reviewers report varying degrees of success—some say their cats actually grow to like the smell! Good luck.

This post contains products that are independently selected by our editors, and Food52 may earn an affiliate commission.
Have other ideas for how to have a cat and own nice furniture? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • sjk
  • Carole Gothard Lowney
    Carole Gothard Lowney
  • Mal Vizz
    Mal Vizz
  • Sherre Wicks
    Sherre Wicks
  • Chrystene Thomas
    Chrystene Thomas
Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.


sjk March 20, 2021
I wrote before that my cat destroyed two leather chairs. I had them recovered in velvet and he hasn't touched them, he sits in them but doesn't scratch
Carole G. March 20, 2021
Leather???????? I have a leather couch and chair....the cat loves shredding it and it is VERY unforgiving. At least with fabric every little pick doesn't show up. This article can't really have been written by someone that has truly experienced a destructive cat.
Mal V. March 16, 2021
Leather is just the worst material for a sofa if you have cats. Not sure how exactly this is recommended here.

All it needs to ruin a leather sofa is just one try from the cat. Most other fabrics will take several scratches until they are ruined, but not leather.

The best sofa is a second hand one I reckon.
sjk July 3, 2020
My cat destroyed two very expensive leather chairs, with his claws
Sherre W. June 8, 2020
My daughter’s cat claws holes in the fabric cover on the bottom of sofas and chairs. Sprays, double sided tape, and the use of aluminum foil have not prevented new holes to be made in the underside of upholstered furniture. Will a Sunbrella fabric or tightly woven fabric work as a deterrent?
Isis A. October 1, 2020
You need to buy more cat scratchers. And then you put the scratchers in front of whatever corner or area they are clawing at on the couch. Buy more than just two cat scratchers, you need to buy like five of them. And then every time they use the scratcher instead of the couch you congratulate them by petting them and telling them good job. Just like you I tried everything to stop my cats from clawing the couch and nothing worked until I bought a bunch of cat scratchers. Cardboard scratchers, rope scratchers, carpet scratchers, all different ones. And that fixed the problem. Took a few months but it does work. Try it. The more cat toys and cat furniture you have in your home the better because then they have some thing to play on, stretch on and claw at.
Chrystene T. April 29, 2020
I think your way off with the sunbrella fabric. I just got the fabric swatches from Joybird and did a pin test with the sunbrella swatches and it looks BAD, really bad. In fact I just pin tested about 50 swatches and I would say Bently daisy comes in first, synergy pewter 2nd prime stone 3rd. I rubbed the material with the pin briskly and then simulated my cat getting claw stuck in fabric. On the other hand, most of the fabrics would be perfect if I just had a dog. So, sunbrella is perfect for dogs and kids and messy humans, just not unsavory types like my two cats.
Karyn W. September 29, 2020
I agee! I bought a beautiful sofa with Sunbrella fabric. My cats have destroyed it. They hardly touched our old microfiber couch. Do not buy a sofa with sunbrella fabric if you have cats!!
Susan G. January 12, 2020
Our cats absolutely love to use our leather couch as scratching post.
greytgrey January 7, 2020
I beg to differ on the leather front. Our cats LOVE our leather armrests. They've managed to puncture the leather and pull it up quite effectively.
SarahW. November 21, 2019
I love my cats, but when I first got them they did scratch up the couches. Luckily, cat spray repellent helped and they grew out of it. I've found that I can make my couches last 10x longer with my pets if I get them cleaned regularly. I normally just use a local cleaner (https://www.cjschemdry.com/upholstery-cleaning/). Do you have any tips for keeping couches clean with dogs?
Bubs56 October 13, 2019
I have 2 cats that love digging their claws into my leather chair. But not the couch ???
Doreen M. October 12, 2019
Cats do scratch leather furniture.
Sarah H. October 12, 2019
We got a performance weave from Maiden Home last year and it has worked perfectly for the cats! They do occasionally scratch it, but the fabric holds up! I think it is too tight for them to really get their claws into. Our Ikea sofa, on the other hand, has been a favorite scratching post for a while and shows!
TerryC February 10, 2020
Sarah could you tell me the name of fabric? We have two Maine Coon cats and leather in our RV lol!
KizKiz February 26, 2020
I went to their website and the fabric is Sunbrella fabric that was mentioned in the article. Good luck!
tia October 12, 2019
I just had an antique chair reupholstered and my cats immediately started clawing it in the mornings. I used Feliway and it worked! Apparently the science is a little iffy, but it worked for me. I'll take it!
May October 11, 2019
So far the only thing that has worked for my family is a slipcover made of denim. Not sure why that's not inviting to the cats but not complaining! The old sofa under the cover used to be decorated with double-sided tape and foil. Not a great look.

My boyfriend's cats are currently working on his leather sofa. It's starting to look like that's going the double-sided tape and foil route very soon. He always tells them that's why they can't have nice things. They're unrepentant jerks. Good thing they're cute.
SarahW. November 21, 2019
Interesting tip. I might have to try a denim slipcover next time a get a new cat.
bellw67 October 11, 2019
I'm lucky, my cat like to scratch horizontally instead of vertically. The only thing he scratches is the mat in the hall by the door. We did, however, buy a new couch covered in micro-suede. He likes to sleep along the back of it so we laid a same color comforter across the back for him.
Jessa S. October 11, 2019
Velvet is also good for cats--they can't get their nails in and the fur cleans off fairly easily.
Eleanor M. October 11, 2019
Try PSST cat spray repellent. It is a motion activated canister than sprays AIR (nothing harmful) and was the only thing that kept my cats away from my sofa. After a while the cats no longer even try, so it is a training tool as well as a deterrent.
LizB October 11, 2019
My cat loves my leather armchair. Sadly.
latenac October 11, 2019
I can't help but thing that the author has never actually had pets and leather furniture. Most people I know with both don't let the two mix as it gets clawed and destroyed fairly quickly.
Rachel P. October 11, 2019
Yeah, I don't know anyone with a leather sofa and a cat where the sofa has not been utterly destroyed.
Liz C. October 11, 2019
Wow, none of my cats go for the leather couch. They destroy baskets.